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NINR logo   National Institute of Nursing Research
Mission | Important Events | Legislative Chronology | Director | Programs | Appropriations


The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) supports basic and clinical research to establish a scientific basis for the care of individuals across the life span - from management of patients during illness and recovery to the reduction of risks for disease and disability and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. According to its broad mandate, the NINR implements programs of research to understand and ease the symptoms of acute and chronic illness, to prevent or delay the onset of disease or slow its progression, to find effective approaches to achieving and sustaining good health, and to improve the clinical settings in which care is provided. This research extends to problems encountered by patients' families and caregivers. It also emphasizes the special needs of at-risk and under-served populations. These efforts are crucial in translating scientific advances into cost-effective health care that does not compromise quality.

NINR programs are conducted primarily through grants to investigators across the country. The NINR intramural program focuses on health promotion and symptom management on the NIH campus, and also provides training opportunities.

NINR fosters collaborations with many other disciplines in areas of mutual interest such as long-term care for older people, the special needs of women across the life span, bioethical issues associated with genetic testing and counseling, biobehavioral aspects of the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, and the impact of environmental influences on risk factors for chronic illnesses.

Important Events in NINR History

November 10, 1985 P.L. 99-158, the Health Research Extension Act of 1985 became law, overriding a presidential veto. Among other provisions, the law authorized the National Center for Nursing Research at NIH.

April 18, 1986 Health and Human Services Secretary, Otis R. Bowen, M.D., announced the establishment of NCNR at NIH.

December 3, 1986 Members of the NCNR Advisory Council were appointed by the HHS secretary.

February 17, 1987 The first meeting of the NCNR Advisory Council was held.

May 30, 1988 The NCNR Advisory Council was renamed the National Advisory Council for Nursing Research.

June 10, 1993 P.L. 103-43, the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, became law. Among other provision, it changed the center to an NIH institute.

June 14, 1993 DHHS Secretary Donna Shalala signed the Federal Register notice establishing the National Institute of Nursing Research.

1997 NINR was designated as the lead NIH institute to coordinate collaborative research on end-of-life palliative care.

NINR Legislative Chronology

November 10, 1985 P.L. 99-158, the Health and Research Extension Act of 1985 became law. Its provisions included the establishment of NCNR to support research and research training related to patient care.

1986 A series of continuing resolutions (P.L. 99-500, P.L. 99-599) established NCNR as a separate NIH appropriation.

June 10, 1993 NCNR was redesignated as an NIH institute under a provision in P.L. 103-43, the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993.

Biographical Sketch of NINR Director Patricia A. Grady, Ph.D., R.N.

Dr. Patricia A. Grady was appointed Director, NINR, on April 3, 1995. She earned her undergraduate degree in nursing from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. She pursued her graduate education at the University of Maryland, receiving a master's degree from the School of Nursing and a doctorate in physiology from the School of Medicine.

An internationally recognized stroke researcher, Dr. Grady's scientific focus has primarily been in stroke, with emphasis on arterial stenosis and cerebral ischemia. She was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 1999 and is a member of several scientific organizations, including the Society for Neuroscience, the American Academy of Nursing, and the American Neurological Association. She is also a fellow of the American Heart Association Stroke Council.

In 1988, Dr. Grady joined the NIH as an extramural research program administrator in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) in the areas of stroke and brain imaging. Two years later, she served on the NIH Task Force for Medical Rehabilitation Research, which established the first long-range research agenda for the field of medical rehabilitation research. In 1992, she assumed the responsibilities of NINDS Assistant Director. From 1993 to 1995, she was Deputy Director and Acting Director of NINDS. Dr. Grady served as a charter member of the NIH Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center Board of Governors.

Before coming to NIH, Dr. Grady held several academic positions and served concurrently on the faculties of the University of Maryland School of Nursing and School of Medicine.

Dr. Grady has authored or co-authored numerous published articles and papers on hypertension, cerebrovascular permeability, vascular stress, and cerebral edema. She is an editorial board member of the major stroke journals. Dr. Grady lectures and speaks on a wide range of topics, including future directions in nursing research, developments in the neurological sciences, and Federal research opportunities.

Dr. Grady has been recognized with several prestigious honors and awards for her leadership and scientific accomplishments, including the first award of the Centennial Achievement Medal from Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Sciences, being named the inaugural Rozella M. Schlotfeld distinguished lecturer at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University and receiving the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service from the University of Maryland. Dr. Grady was named the 1995 Excellence in Nursing Lecturer by the Council on Cardiovascular Nurses of the American Heart Association.

Dr. Grady is a past recipient of the NIH Merit Award and received the Public Health Service Superior Service Award for her exceptional leadership as Acting Director of the NINDS.

NINR Directors

Date of Birth
In Office From
Doris H. Merritt (Acting) 1923 April 18, 1986 June 1987
Ada Sue Hinshaw 1939 June 6, 1987 June 30, 1994
Suzanne S. Hurd (Acting)   July 1, 1994 April 2, 1995
Patricia A. Grady   April 3, 1995 Present

Major Programs

Extramural Research

The NINR extramural program invites investigator-initiated applications containing innovative ideas and sound methodology in all aspects of nursing research consistent with the institute mission. A program priority is the integration of biological and behavioral research. Three dimensions - promoting health and preventing disease, managing the symptoms and disability of illness, and improving the environments in which care is delivered - cut across the following seven areas.

  • Research in chronic illness and long-term care, including health issues of individuals with arthritis, diabetes, and urinary incontinence. This area also encompasses family care-giving and long-term care.

  • Research in health and risk behaviors, including studies of women's health; developmental transitions, such as adolescence and menopause; environmental health; and health and behavior research, such as studies of exercise, nutrition, and smoking cessation.

  • Research in cardiopulmonary health, including prevention and care of individuals with cardiac or respiratory conditions. This area also includes research in critical care, trauma, wound healing, and organ transplantation.

  • Research in neurofunction and sensory conditions, including pain management, sleep disorders, and symptom management in persons with cognitive impairment or chronic neurological conditions. This area also includes research on patient care in acute care settings.

  • Research in immune responses and oncology, including symptoms primarily associated with cancer and AIDS, such as fatigue, nausea and vomiting, and cachexia. Prevention research on specific risk factors is also included.

  • Research in reproductive and infant health, including prevention of premature labor and low birth weight, reduction of health-risk factors during pregnancy, labor and delivery and the postpartum period, and issues related to prenatal care, neonates, infant growth and development, and fertility.

  • Research on end-of-life palliative care, including clinical management of physical and psychological symptoms, communication, ethics and clinical decision-making, care-giver support, and care delivery issues.

The following areas of opportunity have been identified for fiscal year 2003:

  • Interventions at the community level that reduce health disparities by building on existing community resources, knowledge, skills, and attributes, and engaging community members in actively identifying and addressing key health issues.

  • Decreasing the number of adolescents engaging in high-risk behaviors, thus reducing the short and long-term consequences of these behaviors.

  • Improving care of individuals in long-term care facilities that enhances improved mobility, sleep, and physical activity and decreases the occurrence of falls, injuries, complications of chronic illnesses and depression.

  • Developing new models for palliative care, with a focus on pediatric and genetic end-of-life issues, with continued efforts to include minorities in the research programs.

  • Diversifying opportunities in nursing research training, including programs that foster earlier entry into research careers. Research career development of minority nurses will be emphasized to enhance research on health disparities.

  • Funding minority research partnerships to address health disparities by involving partnerships between schools of nursing of universities with established research programs in this area, and those with developing research programs that have a significant number of minority students.

Research Training and Career Development

A critical activity of NINR ensures that there will be an adequate pool of well-trained nurse scientists to meet future research needs. This is accomplished through national research service awards for pre- and postdoctoral individual and institutional support, as well as senior fellowships for experienced investigators.

For career development, NINR offers a "Mentored Research Scientist Development Award - Nursing," which is available to doctorally prepared students who need a mentored research experience with an expert sponsor to gain expertise in an area new to the candidate or to demonstrably enhance the candidate's scientific career.

The NINR Career Transition Award will provide up to 3 years of support for research training in an NINR or NIH intramural laboratory followed by 2 years of support for an independent program of research in an extramural institution. It is anticipated that awardees will subsequently obtain a research project grant to support the continuation of his/her work. A new Summer Genetics Institute will be launched through the Intramural Research Program to provide a foundation in molecular genetics for clinical practice and for biological and psychosocial research.

The NINR also funds minority research career awards that offer mentored research experiences. Under this training mechanism, minority investigators have addressed such issues as serious developmental problems in Mexican migrant infants; culturally appropriate community-level youth suicide prevention programs for American Indian rural youth; improvement of awareness of prostate cancer screening among African-American men; and ways to identify triggers or markers for increased risk for sudden death in Asian heart failure patients.

Intramural Division

NINR intramural laboratories are small and developing. The major organizing theme of the labs is Symptom Management. One specific study underway focuses on understanding anorexia (which means the severe weight loss that sometimes occurs with some cancers, HIV/AIDS or other serious chronic illnesses).

The intramural division also sponsors the Summer Genetics Institute, a two-month intensive program on the NIH campus that features classroom and laboratory components designed to provide a foundation in molecular genetics and prepare nurses with tools to investigate critical clinical genetics questions. Another week-long Research Training Workshop targets doctorally prepared nurses and provides them with knowledge and skill development for submitting competitive applications for research funding.

NINR Appropriations Grants and Direct Operations

Fiscal Year
Total Grants
Direct Operations1
(Amounts in thousands of dollars)

1 Includes the Intramural Research Program, R&D contracts, and research management support.

This page was last reviewed on June 22, 2005 .

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