Institutes and Research Divisions
National Center for Research Resources


NCRR conceives and develops a broad array of critical research technologies and resources and ensures their availability, thereby strengthening and enhancing biomedical research supported or performed by NIH.

The center, established on February 15, 1990, merged the Division of Research Resources--which provided extramural research resources to NIH-supported institutions, and the Division of Research Services--which provided resources to NIH intramural research programs.

Research resources and technologies provided by NCRR include General Clinical Research Centers--hospital inpatient and outpatient facilities staffed by specially trained medical personnel that host multicategorical clinical research studies; biomedical research technology resources--state-of-the-art computers, laboratories, and complex instrument systems that provide scientists with the latest tools from the physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering; animal resources--facilities such as the seven Regional Primate Research Centers and other valuable animal colonies at which laboratory models of human disease are developed and studied; and nonmammalian research models such as cell systems, lower organisms, and other biological materials critical to research on human diseases.

NCRR programs also provide funds for pilot research projects and unanticipated research opportunities, science education for minority students and teachers, and for enhancing the research capabilities of minority institutions that award doctorates in the health professions or health-related sciences. NCRR also offers the ICDs scientific library and translation services, and medical arts and photography.


Important Events in NCRR History

February 15, 1990--Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, secretary of Health and Human Services, merged the Division of Research Resources and the Division of Research Services, forming the National Center for Research Resources.


DRR Important Events

April 13, 1962 --Dr. Luther L. Terry, PHS Surgeon General, announced the creation of the Division of Research Facilities and Resources.

1962--The Biomedical Research Technology Program began with the transfer of centers for biomedical computing and bioengineering.

June 1962 --Regional Primate Research Centers transferred from the National Heart Institute to DRFR.

July 15, 1962 --Dr. Shannon, NIH director, officially established DRFR.

August 1966 --BRTP funded the first centers in mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance.

January 4, 1969 --DRFR was renamed the Division of Research Resources and placed into the Bureau of Health Professions Education and Manpower Training.

September 18, 1970 --The Division of Research Resources was removed from BHME, and became a separate NIH division.

June 1972 --The Minority Biomedical Research Support Program was formed to increase minority opportunities in biomedical research.

October 29, 1975 --The NIH director approved a broadened mission for the division and an internal reorganization.

March 1979 --The BRTP funded the first synchrotron facility for use in x-ray crystallography by NIH investigators.

March 1980 --The Minority High School Student Research Apprentice Program was begun.

September 1985 --The Research Centers in Minority Institutions Program was established to enhance research environments at predominantly minority institutions.

August 1986 --DRR funded at the University of Illinois the only national laboratory dedicated to biomedical applications of fluorescence.

September 1987 --DRR funded the Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center.

October 1988 --The Research Facilities Improvement Program was begun.

October 1, 1989 --Funding for the Research Centers in Minority Institutions Program was transferred from the Office of the Director, NIH, to DRR, which had managed the program since its inception.

October 17, 1989 --The biological models and materials resources section of the Animal Resources Program was raised to program status as the Biological Models and Materials Research Program.

October 22, 1989 --The Minority Biomedical Research Support Program was transferred from DRR to NIGMS.


DRS Important Events

1956 --DRS was established on January 1 to provide equipment and professional and technical services essential to intramural programs.

1960 --NIH acquired 513 acres of farmland near Poolesville, Md., on May 5 as the site of the NIH Animal Center.

Three branches--Instrument Engineering and Development; Library; and Medical Arts and Photography--were established.

1974 --WHO designated the Veterinary Resources Branch as a Collaborating Center for Defined Laboratory Animals (the NIH Animal Genetic Resource). The International Council for Laboratory Animal Science designated the small animal section, VRB, as an international nude mouse reference center.

Well-defined open formula diets for mice and rats were developed and put into use, enabling elimination of nutritional status as an experimental variable.

DRS was made responsibile for administrative support of the interagency primate steering committee established to plan and develop a national primate program to an adequate supply for health-related activities.

A center for domestic production of nonhuman primates for NIH intramural research was established at Perrine, Fla.

1977 --A unit was established to monitor the genetic integrity of mice and rats maintained by VRB.

1980 --A reproductive services laboratory was established to develop and apply gamete and embryo cryopreservation techniques to preserve animal models.

1983 --The assistant secretary for health reorganized the interagency primate steering committee as the interagency research animal committee (IRAC) responsible for conservation, use, care and welfare of research animals. NIH remained the lead agency, with DRS providing administrative support.

DRS also incurred responsibilities in support of the NIH animal care and use committee, including projects to help institute intramural programs fulfill NIH requirements.

1985 --Integration and automation of the NIH Library circulation and catalog system was completed.

Production of nonhuman primates at the Perrine, Fla., breeding center was discontinued because of decreased need and budget restrictions.

A statement of "U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research, and Training," prepared by the IRAC at the request of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, was published in the Federal Register on May 20, expressing acceptance of the principles by Federal agencies participating in IRAC.

1986 --DRS celebrated its 30th anniversary.

VRB phased out dog breeding and large-scale production of rodents to focus on more direct support of research projects. Developing and breeding small numbers of special laboratory rodents continued in the NIH Genetic Resource.

The Medical Arts and Photography Branch began to supply videorecording services.

VRB coordinated development of an NIH-wide "Animal Awareness Program" for the NIH animal care and use committee. Posters and presentations stressed the importance of humane care of laboratory animals.

1987 --The Office of Animal Care and Use (OACU) was established, located in the Office of Intramural Research but administratively supported by DRS. Its mission is to ensure that NIH intramural programs comply with Federal laws and regulations on animal care and use. The DRS director was named OACU director. Administration of the IRAC and the NIH animal care and use committee was transferred from VRB to OACU.

The In-vivo NMR Research Center, managed by the BEIB, began operations, providing facilities for NIH investigators using magnetic resonance imaging or NMR spectroscopy.


NCRR Legislative Chronology

July 30, 1956 --The Health Research Facilities Act of 1956 (Title VII of the PHS act) authorized a PHS program of Federal matching grants to public and nonprofit institutions for health research facilities construction. Congress extended title VII through 1971. No grants were made under this authority after 1969.

August 19, 1959 --Congress appropriated $2 million to establish two primate research centers.

September 15, 1960 --Public Law 86-798 amended the PHS act to authorize grants-in-aid to universities, hospitals, laboratories, and other public and nonprofit institutions to strengthen their programs of research and research training in sciences related to health. The act also authorized the use of funds appropriated for research or research training to be set aside by the Surgeon General in a special account for general research support grants. Passage of this law resulted in the Biomedical Research Support Program.

July 29, 1971 --The Minority Biomedical Research Support Program was created with $2 million from the Senate Appropriations Committee under authority of sec. 301(c) of the amended PHS act.

October 3, 1984 --The Research Centers in Minority Institutions Program was created with a $5 million congressional appropriation to the NIH Office of the Director. DRR was given administrative authority for the program.

December 22, 1987 --Public Law 100-202 provided $23,935,000 for the "repair, renovation, modernization, and expansion of existing research facilities, and for the purchase of associated equipment." The accompanying report, H.R. 100-498, directed that the money be spent on improving AIDS research facilities. The Research Facility Improvement Program was created in DRR in response to this legislation.

Director's of NCRR

NameDate of Birth Dates of Office
Robert A. Whitney, Jr..........................November 1984August 1992
Judith L. Vaitukaitis.........................September 1992.........................
Director's of DRR

Frederick L. Stone.........................July 15, 1962July 1965
Thomas J. Kennedy.........................July 1, 1965July 1, 1976
Thomas G. Bowery.........................Sept. 3, 1968Jan. 15, 1981
James F. O'Donnell (Actg).........................January 1981September 1982
Betty H. Pickett.........................Oct. 1, 1982Oct. 1, 1988
Director's of DRS

Chris A. HansenSept. 15, 1915April 1956July 1968
William B. DeWittJune 3, 1921July 1968August 1971
Roger D. Estep.........................November 1971July 1972
Joe R. Held1931July 1972November 1984

Biographical Sketch of NCRR Director

Judith L. Vaitukaitis, M.D.

Dr. Vaitukaitis is a native of Hartford, Conn. She earned a B.S. degree in chemistry and biology from Tufts University in 1962, and an M.D. degree from Boston University School of Medicine in 1966. She completed her residency at Cornell Medical Services, Bellevue Memorial Hospital, New York.

In 1970 she came to NIH as a postdoctoral researcher in the Endocrinology Branch of NCI. She continued her postdoctoral training in the Reproduction Research Branch, NICHD, first as a special research fellow in the USPHS and then as a senior staff fellow. She subsequently served as senior investigator and medical officer in that branch until 1974.

From 1974 to 1983, Dr. Vaitukaitis served as professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, including 6 years as professor of physiology. In addition to teaching, she conducted extensive basic research on the mechanisms controlling hormonal action and metabolism at the cellular level, and clinical research in reproductive endocrinology.

For significant contributions to the development of radioassay methodology, including the development of the first specific pregnancy assay, she received the Clinical Radioassay Society's 1980 Mallinckrodt Award for Investigative Research. The pregnancy assay she developed continues to be used. It has evolved into over-the-counter products for early pregnancy detection and as a method for monitoring patients with tumors developed from placental tissue.

In 1982 Dr. Vaitukaitis wrote Clinical Reproductive Neuroendocrinology and in 1983 received Boston University School of Medicine's Distinguished Alumna Award.

Her clinical studies were conducted in Boston University's General Clinical Research Center, where she served as codirector from 1975 to 1977 and director from 1977 to 1986.

Dr. Vaitukaitis returned to NIH in 1986 as director of NCRR's General Clinical Research Centers Program. She became deputy director for extramural research resources in 1991, acting NCRR director in September 1992, and director in May 1993.


Major Programs--Extramural

General Clinical Research Centers

NCRR's nationwide network of 75 General Clinical Research Centers offers a special environment for the study of research patients by medical scientists in their pursuit of improved diagnosis and treatment of human disease and disability. At clinical research centers, advances in basic sciences are translated into clinical tools used to diagnose, treat and prevent illness. Grants awarded through this program may be used for equipment, special laboratories, diet kitchens, salaries for highly trained staff (including nurses, dietitians, biostatisticians and other professionals), and the hospitalization costs of research patients. Support for biostatistical as well as for data management and analysis also may be provided.

Regional Primate Research Centers

NCRR's seven regional Primate Research Centers provide unique research resources for biomedical and behavioral research using nonhuman primates as experimental animal models. Initial awards were made for construction of physical facilities at all seven centers. Operating awards are made each year following review of each center's proposed budget by NIH staff. The overall programs of each center also receive regular peer review from outside supporting agencies. Universities serve as host institutions for centers and provide academic environments of high standard for staff and visiting scientists.

Areas of emphasis include reproductive biology, infectious diseases, neurosciences, biobehavioral research, metabolic, nutritional and cardiovascular diseases, and environmental health and toxicology. Based on the availability of facilities and other resources, the centers maintain extensive collaborative programs for scientists from many institutions. Visiting scientist programs for investigators from the U.S. and abroad also are included within the centers.

Laboratory Animal Sciences

The Laboratory Animal Sciences Program funds research, research animal resources, and scientific training in the field of comparative medicine. Of particular interest is to develop new and improved animal models of human disease. To assist institutions in their efforts to meet animal care guidelines established by PHS and the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act, LASP supports projects to enhance the environmental conditions of laboratory animals and improve their health. The goal of LASP-supported training is to provide graduate veterinarians with the research skills and motivation to become career participants in biomedical and health research.

AIDS Animal Models

The Chimpanzee Biomedical Research Program was established in 1986 to provide a stable supply of healthy chimpanzees for biomedical investigations related to AIDS and hepatitis, and to perpetuate the chimpanzee population in the U.S.

The Specific-Pathogen-Free (SPF) Rhesus Monkey Breeding and Research Program was established in 1988 to create self-sustaining rhesus breeding colonies that are free from contamination with certain simian retro-viruses and herpes B virus, and to make SPF animals available for PHS-supported research projects related to AIDS.

Biomedical Research Technology

A biomedical research technology resource combines expensive equipment, complex methodologies, and scarce expertise to help find solutions to important biomedical research problems. It serves investigators within a university, research institution, region, or the entire Nation. Biomedical research technology resource centers take many forms such as biomedical computer centers, biomedical engineering centers, and instrument-oriented centers for studying biomolecular and cellular structure and function.

Program funds support the technology resource allowing scientific collaborators to increase its usefulness in biomedical research. Thus, the resource adds a new dimension in special expertise and capability to the research potential of qualified investigators. Particular emphasis is placed on shared resources operating on a regional or national basis.

The program also funds grants for the development of new technologies and instrumentation for biomedical research.

Biomedical Research Support

The Biomedical Research Support Program includes three science education programs to improve science literacy and attract tomorrow's cadre of biomedical scientists. The Minority High School Student Research Apprentice Program (MHSSRAP), begun in 1980, provides summer "hands on" research experiences. The goal is to motivate minority students to pursue careers in health research or a health profession. The program includes teachers in elementary, middle and junior high schools, plus preservice teachers. The MHSSRAP is being phased out and replaced by the new competitive program "NCRR Minority Initiative: K-12 Teachers and High School Students."

The Science Education Partnership Award Program fosters alliances among educators, biomedical researchers, and local communities. Model programs further knowledge and excitement about the health sciences in young people (K-12) and the public.

The Science Teaching Enhancement Award Program is testing the feasibility of preparing science instructors (grades 6-12) to become master teachers. These individuals assume leadership roles in acting as liaisons between biomedical research scientists, their home institutions and science educators, school administrators, and others in the local school systems. The goal is to improve the quality of precollege science education.

The Institutional Development Award Program is a congressionally mandated effort to broaden the geographic distribution of NIH funding. The program helps investigators in designated states obtain long-range NIH research grant funding.

The unique Shared Instrumentation Grant Program provides funds for instruments costing $100,000 to $400,000. Groups of 10 or more NIH-supported investigators share NMR imagers, coupled hybrid mass spectrometers, scanning laser confocal microscopes, and the latest in gene sequencing equipment. This cost-effective program affords NIH grantees with tools for state-of-the-art biomedical research.

NCRR Appropriations -- Grants and Direct Operations
[Amounts in thousands of dollars]

Total Grants
Direct Operations
1969130,501 4,409134,910
1982 175,5058,672184,177
1Includes health research facilities construction grants transferred to the Bureau of Health Professions Education and Manpower Training in FY 1969. Appropriations for such construction were terminated by Congress in FY 1970.
2 Includes AIDS funds transferred from the Office of AIDS Research.

Research Centers in Minority Institutions

Begun in 1985, the Research Centers in Minority Institutions Program is a congressionally mandated initiative.

The program seeks to expand the national capability for research in health sciences by assisting, through grant support, predominantly minority institutions that offer doctorates in either the health professions or health-related sciences. The grants enhance the capacity of minority institutions to conduct biomedical and behavioral research by strengthening their research environments.

Funds are typically used to hire additional research faculty in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, support training in specialized analytical methods, upgrade facilities, and purchase advanced scientific instruments.

Biomedical Models

The Biomedical Models Program develops and supports nonmammalian models such as lower vertebrates and invertebrates and nonanimal models such as cell systems, lower organisms, and nonbiological systems for biomedical research and provides biological materials that serve as important resources to the biomedical community. The program is enhancing and expanding utilization of nonmammalian models in biomedical research.


Major Programs--Intramural

Biomedical Engineering and Instrumentation

The Biomedical Engineering and Instrumentation Program supports intramural scientists in applications of engineering, mathematics, physics, and the physical sciences to the solution of problems in biology and medicine, through 1) collaborations involving measurement, imaging, mathematical and physical modeling, and design of specialized equipment, and 2) construction, modification, maintenance, repair, and lease of scientific equipment.

Veterinary Resources

The Veterinary Resources Program contributes to intramural research at NIH by procuring, housing, and maintaining laboratory animals at holding facilities in Bethesda and Poolesville. VRP provides technical consulting services to meet individual research needs in studies involving nonhuman primates, dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents, and livestock. Services and support available to intramural scientists include: disease diagnostics, animal model selection and development, genetic monitoring, germfree technology, behavior, nutrition, preoperative and postoperative care, cryopreservation, and surgery. VRP also manages the NIH Animal Genetic Resource, which supplies scientists at NIH and around the world with a large selections of genetically defined small animal models.

Library Services

The NIH Library provides NIH with extensive research information resources and services. Housing approximately 80,000 monographs, 155,000 bound periodicals, and 2,600 current journal titles, the NIH Library is one of the country's largest biomedical libraries. It provides free access to a variety of databases including MEDLINE, AIDSLINE, PDQ, EMBASE, Biological Abstracts, PsychInfo, CANCERLIT, BIOETHICSLINE, and CHEMLINE. Several training courses are available on how to use these resources. The library also can translate foreign-language medical and scientific articles into English.

Medical Arts and Photography

The Medical Arts and Photography Branch provides NIH with complete visual communication services. MAPB designers, artists, photographers, video production specialists, etc., work with NIH personnel to produce effective visual presentations of biomedical research results. Services include design, graphics, video production, medical illustration, micro- and macrophotography, information and patient photography, and consulting.