NIH 1998 Almanac/The Organization/NICHD/      

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development : Organization

The NICHD has six major components--the Center for Research for Mothers and Children, the Center for Population Research, and the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, all extramural programs supporting research through grants and contracts the Division of Intramural Research the Division of Epidemiology, Statistics, and Preventive Research and the Division of Scientific Review.

Center for Research for Mothers and Children

The Center for Research for Mothers and Children (CRMC) supports research and research training in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. The work is designed to foster pregnancies and births that produce sound infants--infants who can grow to adulthood free of disease and disability. The CRMC has six branches.

The Endocrinology, Nutrition and Growth Branch supports research on the nutritional needs of pregnant women, fetuses, and children and on the interrelationships of nutrition, endocrinology, and growth and development. The branch also focuses on nutritional and hormonal aspects of growth and development, both the normal and abnormal biological development of the fetus and infant, and on the effects of perinatal conditions and events on development.

The Human Learning and Behavior Branch is concerned with the development of human behavior, from infancy, through childhood and adolescence, into early maturity. Studies are supported in developmental psychobiology, behavioral pediatrics, cognitive and communicative processes, social and affective development and health-related behaviors, as well as learning disabilities, dyslexia, language disorders, day care and unintentional injuries.

The Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Branch focuses on the etiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental retardation and related disabilities, examining the biomedical, behavioral and social processes involved. The branch also supports 14 Mental Retardation Research Centers where research is conducted on mental retardation and related aspects of human development.

The Developmental Biology, Genetics and Teratology Branch develops and supports research and research training in the etiology of congenital malformations. The branch also examines gene transfer, the genetic basis of human development, and the development of the immune system.

The Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch studies research related to pregnancy and maternal health, embryonic development, fetal growth, and infant well-being. The branch also supports research on high-risk pregnancies, low birth weight, premature birth, perinatal pharmacology and toxicology, sudden infant death syndrome, exercise during pregnancy, and the impact of conditions and/or treatments during pregnancy such as antibiotics, analgesics, anesthetics, drug use and addiction, cigarette smoking, obesity and infections on the outcome of pregnancy.

The Pediatric, Adolescent and Maternal AIDS Branch develops and supports research on HIV infection and disease as it affects women of childbearing age, pregnant women, mothers, fetuses, infants, children, adolescents and families. Research efforts focus on the epidemiology, natural history, pathogenesis, behavioral aspects, treatment and prevention of HIV infection and disease.

Center for Population Research

The Center for Population Research (CPR) conducts the Federal Government’s central effort in population research. Through grants and contracts, the center supports:

  • Fundamental biomedical research on reproductive processes influencing human fertility and infertility;

  • Development of better methods for regulating fertility;

  • Evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of contraceptive methods now in use; and

  • Behavioral and social science research on the reproductive behavior of individuals, and the causes and consequences of population change.

There are four branches in the CPR. The Reproductive Sciences Branch supports fundamental biomedical research and research training in reproductive biology and medicine relevant to problems of human fertility and infertility.

The Contraceptive Development Branch supports projects aimed at developing safe and effective methods for regulating fertility in both men and women. The Contraceptive and Reproductive Evaluation Branch funds a national research program focusing on the epidemiology of reproductive health including studies of contraceptive and noncontraceptive gynecological products, medical devices, and surgical procedures.

The Demographic and Behavioral Sciences Branch supports studies on the social, psychological, economic and environmental factors governing population change, relationship between individual, household, and social behavior and population change.

National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research

The NCMRR funds research training and projects on restoring, replacing or enhancing the function of individuals with physical disabilities. Medical rehabilitation research is directed towards restoration or improvement of functional capability lost as a consequence of injury, disease, or congenital disorder.

The Applied Rehabilitation Medicine Research Branch supports research to develop and evaluate new physical medicine/rehabilitation techniques and methods in prosthetics, orthotics, bioengineering, and technology transfer.

The Basic Rehabilitation Medicine Research Branch supports research and training in the physical medicine/rehabilitation areas of replacement, recovery, and restoration of function in neural, muscular, cardiac, pulmonary, urinary, and other physiological systems.

Division of Intramural Research

The intramural research program conducts fundamental and clinical research at the Clinical Center and laboratories at NIH.

A limited number of research patients are admitted to the program's clinical research projects under guidelines established by the director of the Clinical Center. Patients must be referred by a physician. The DIR is broadly concerned with the biological and neurobiological, medical and behavioral aspects of normal and abnormal human development. In addition to four major clinical research and training programs in the areas of genetics, endocrinology, and maternal-fetal medicine, a diversity of developmental models are under study in 11 fundamental research laboratories and branches.

Fundamental Research

In the laboratories of the scientific director, the section on viruses and cellular biology studies the molecular events which influence the fidelity of the genome, facilitating both evolution and species stability. A major objective is to elucidate the mechanisms which determine whether DNA repair is error-free or -prone in bacteria and in primate cells. The dynamics of mutagenesis are also of interest.

The section on growth factors studies the biochemical and physiological actions of nerve growth factor, a peptide required for the development of the sympathetic and sensory nervous systems.

The Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology studies cellular, membrane and molecular mechanisms that determine nervous system functions and that figure importantly in brain development and mental retardation.

The Laboratory of Molecular Genetics examines how genetic information is transferred and expressed during development in a variety of organisms from yeast to mammals.

The Laboratory of Developmental and Molecular Immunity conducts research into developmental and molecular biology of "natural" and immunization-induced immunity to bacterial and other antigens. Emphasis has been placed on the study of pathogenic mechanisms, immunoregulatory mechanisms of the host, and the development of vaccines directed against serious bacterial infections.

The Laboratory of Theoretical and Physical Biology applies mathematical, statistical, and computer-based techniques to the analysis of complex clinical, biological, and pharmacological problems.

The Laboratory of Mammalian Genes and Development studies fundamental questions of development, differentiation and oncogenesis. Gene regulation at specific stages of mouse development is studied.

The Laboratory of Molecular Growth Regulation focuses on the control of mammalian cell growth, gene regulations and immune system function. Its goal is to understand normal control mechanisms and disorders of growth control that are manifested as cellular immortalization, transformation, or senescence.

The Laboratory of Molecular Embryology investigates the mechanisms by which gene expression is stabilized in embryogenesis. The laboratory is concerned with understanding the molecular mechanisms by which stable states of gene activity are established and maintained. Attention has been focused on germ cell-specific class II and class III genes.

The Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Neurophysiology studies how neurotransmitter receptors and ion channels regulate information processing in the central nervous system.

The Endocrinology and Reproduction Research Branch studies the secretion and cellular actions of peptide and protein hormones, with particular reference to hypothalamic-pituitary hormones and their receptor-mediated responses in endocrine and neural cells.

The Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch carries out research in the areas of cell, molecular, and receptor biology. The molecular mechanisms of iron metabolism, the biology of intracellular organelles and membrane traffic, the mechanisms which regulate the fate of newly synthesized membrane proteins, the genetic response to environmental stress, and the biology of receptors central to the immune system are of interest.

Clinical Research

The Laboratory of Comparative Ethology investigates cognitive, social and motivational development in humans and in nonhuman primates. Research focuses on early environmental influences onbehavior development, and on the complex relationships between the organism and its environment. Research undertaken with primates seeks to relate brain function to behavioral states.

The Developmental Endocrinology Branch conducts basic and clinical studies of endocrine disease with emphasis on adult and pediatric reproductive endocrinology. Fundamental research focuses on endocrine and reproductive processes and gynecologic disorders. A major objective is to translate research findings into practical bedside application.

Human Genetics Branch interests range from studies on the etiology, diagnosis and treatment of genetic and developmental disorders of young people to very basic studies on eukaryotic gene expression utilizing recombinant DNA methodology. Current research projects concern lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, the mucopoly-saccharidoses, heritable disorders of the bone and connective tissue, lysosomal storage diseases (e.g., cystinosis), temperature-sensitive models of cellular differentiation, and heritable disorders of bone and connective tissue.

The Perinatal Research Branch conducts clinical investigations of obstetric and neonatal conditions contributing to infant mortality. Emphasis is placed on antenatal diagnostic techniques, premature labor, and other causes of low birth weight.

Division of Epidemiology, Statistics, and Prevention Research

The division provides the institute with the skills of four disciplines: biostatistics, behavioral sciences, computer sciences, and epidemiology. The Biometry and Mathematical Statistics Branch provides statistical consulting and data analyses to support intramural and extramural investigators and conducts its own methodological research in biostatistics. It also participates as a statistical unit in studies and projects of NICHD.

The Epidemiology Branch studies determinants of high risk pregnancies and of infant mortality and childhood mortality including congenital malformations. Particular attention is give to determinants which lend themselves to interventions and prevention.

The Computer Sciences Branch serves as the division's central resource for systems analysis, design and programming expertise with emphasis on the development and implementation of analysis, statistical procedures, and data processing procedures in epidemiology and biometry. It also houses the data coordinating center for the NICHD study of early child care.

The Prevention Research Branch conducts biobehavioral research to promote healthful behaviors and to prevent or ameliorate disease during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood through adolescence. The focus is the development and evaluation of interventions in health care setting and school-based programs for children and adolescents.

Division of Scientific Review

The Division of Scientific Review is responsible for a broad range of functions related to the review of research and training grant applications and research contract proposals.

The division provides policy direction and coordination for the planning and conduct of initial scientific and technical merit review of applications for various types of grants, including program projects, centers, institutional training, career development and conferences. The division serves the same function for NICHD research and development contracts in the biomedical, clinical, and behavioral sciences.


National Institutes of Health