NIH 1999 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 are all extramural programs supporting research via grants and contracts. Other components are the Divisions of Intramural Research; Epidemiology, Statistics, and Prevention Research; and Scientific Review.
Center for Research for Mothers and Children
The Center for Research for Mothers and Children (CRMC) serves as the principal NIH source of support for research and research training in maternal and child health. Through this research, CRMC-sponsored scientists advance fundamental and clinical knowledge concerning maternal health and child development problems such as high-risk pregnancies, prematurity and low birth weight, mental retardation and developmental disabilities, specific learning disabilities, congenital and genetic defects, growth retardation, HIV, and other congenital infectious diseases. The center and its programs help to maximize human development, prevent diseases and disorders, and improve diagnosis, therapy, and clinical care. Primary goals of the center are to ensure that mothers and families are healthy and all babies are born healthy, will reach adulthood, and achieve their full potential. 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 Child Development 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 develops and supports research related to pregnancy and maternal health, embryonic development, fetal growth, and infant well-being. The branch also funds 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) is the Federal Government's focal point for 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, sexual transmission of HIV, and the causes and consequences of population change.
There are three 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, up to and including implantation.
The Contraception and Reproductive Health Branch supports projects aimed at developing safe and effective methods for regulating fertility in both men and women. The 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; the relationship between individual, household, and social behavior and population change; and behavioral and social science research related to sexual risk of HIV transmission.
National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research
The NCMRR funds research training and projects to foster the development of scientific knowledge needed to promote the health, productivity, independence, and quality of life for people with disabilities. A primary goal is to bring the health-related problems of people with disabilities to the attention of America's best scientists to capitalize upon the myriad advances occurring in the biological, behavioral, and engineering sciences.
The NCMRR's Research Plan for Medical Rehabilitation Research describes seven cross-cutting areas of research that guide the funding priorities of the center. These are: improving mobility; enhancing behavioral adaptation to disability; understanding the body's responses to disabling conditions from an integrated standpoint; developing new assistive technology to improve useful functioning; improving measurement tools to assess the consequences of irreversible physical impairments; investigating the effectiveness of rehabilitative interventions; and training medical rehabilitation scientists.
Division of Intramural Research
The DIR is broadly concerned with the biological and neurobiological, medical and behavioral aspects of normal and abnormal human development.
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. In addition to five clinical research and training programs in the areas of genetics, endocrinology, and maternal-fetal medicine, a diversity of developmental models are under study in 18 research laboratories and branches.
In the laboratories of the scientific director, the section on DNA replication, repair, and mutagenesis 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 Neuro-biology 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 such organisms from yeast to vertebrates.
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 Cellular and Molecular Biophysics 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.
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. Of interest are molecular mechanisms of iron metabolism, biology of intracellular organelles and membrane traffic, mechanisms which regulate the fate of newly synthesized membrane proteins, genetic response to environmental stress, and biology of receptors central to the immune system.
The Laboratory of Eukaryotic Gene Regulation studies molecular mechanisms of gene expression at the transcriptional and translational levels in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Regulation of these processes according to environmental stimuli, particularly through protein phosphorylation, is also analyzed intensively. The replication mechanism of a retrotransposon is being analyzed in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, focusing on the interplay between gene products and functions of the retroelement and the host cell.
The Laboratory of Integrative and Medical Biophysics works to devise new research and diagnostic modalities, which at present include optical techniques for detection of targets buried deeply in tissue, diffusion-tensor MRI to characterize tissue microstructure and monitor its changes in disease, and laser capture microdissection for molecular pathology and developmental biology.
The Laboratory of Physical and Structural Biology examines the forces between and within biological macromolecules. In order to understand biological structures through the physical forces that animate them, the laboratory measures force vs. separation between molecules from all classes of bio-matter.
The Laboratory of Comparative Ethology investigates cognitive, social and motivational development in humans and in nonhuman primates. Research focuses on early environmental influences on behavior 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 reproductive endocrinology and pediatric growth and hormonal disorders. Fundamental research focuses on endocrine and reproductive processes and gynecologic disorders. A major objective is to translate research findings into practical bedside application.
The Heritable Disorders 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 bone and connective tissue, lysosomal storage diseases (e.g., cystinosis), and temperature-sensitive models of cellular differentiation.
The Perinatalogy 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 DESPR provides the institute with the skills of four disciplines: biostatistics, epidemiology, computer sciences, and prevention research. All research funded by DESPR is done under contracts--not grants.
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 and childhood mortality including congenital malformations. Particular attention is given to determinants which lend themselves to interventions and prevention. Included in the branch are the pediatric epidemiology section, which studies epidemiological aspects of birth defects, and the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for the Clinical Evaluation of Vaccines in Developing Countries.
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 settings 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.