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National Center for Research Resources

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Mission

For nearly 50 years, the National Center for Research Resources provided laboratory scientists and clinical researchers with tools and training to understand, detect, treat and prevent a wide range of diseases. NCRR supported all aspects of clinical and translational research, connecting researchers, patients and communities across the nation. This support enabled discoveries at a molecular and cellular level to move to animal-based studies to patient-oriented clinical research, ultimately leading to improved patient care.

Important Events in NCRR History

1962—On April 13, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Luther L. Terry announced the creation of the Division of Research Facilities and Resources (DRFR), officially established on June 15.

In June, the Regional Primate Research Centers were transferred from the National Heart Institute to DRFR.

1967—The Biotechnology Resources Program was established with the transfer of Centers for Biomedical Computing and Bioengineering to DRFR from another NIH component. BRP funded the first Centers in Mass Spectrometry and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance.

1969—DRFR, in the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) Bureau of Health Professions Education and Manpower Training, was renamed the Division of Research Resources (DRR).

1970—DRR was removed from the Bureau of Health Professions Education and Manpower Training and became an independent NIH division.

1972—The Minority Biomedical Research Support Program was formed.

1975—The NIH Director approved a broadened mission for the division and an internal reorganization.

1979—The BRP funded the first synchrotron facility for use in X-ray crystallography by NIH investigators.

1980—The Minority High School Student Research Apprentice Program began.

1985—The Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) program was established.

The Biological Models and Materials Research Section was created in DRR's Animal Resources Program.

1986—The only national laboratory dedicated to biomedical applications of fluorescence was funded at the University of Illinois.

1987—The Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center was funded.

1988—The Research Facilities Improvement Program began.

1989—The Biological Models and Materials Resources Section of the Animal Resources Program became the Biological Models and Materials Research Program.

The Minority Biomedical Research Support Program was transferred from DRR to NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

1990—On February 15, Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approved the merger of the Division of Research Resources and the NIH Division of Research Services to form the National Center for Research Resources.

NCRR received appropriated funding for the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) program, which had been previously administered by DRR but funded by the Office of the Director, NIH, since the program's inception in l985.

1991—The Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program was established.

1993—NCRR began the Science Teaching Enhancement Award program, a 2-year pilot program to create a corps of master teachers to form institutional partnerships that would improve biology education at the pre-college level.

The Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program and the Research Facilities Improvement Program were established, as mandated by the NIH 1993 Revitalization Act.

1994—NCRR convened expert biomedical investigators, academic administrators, and staff to develop NCRR's first comprehensive strategic plan, NCRR: A Catalyst for Discovery, A Plan for the National Center for Research Resources.

1995—NCRR reorganized the original seven extramural programs into: Biomedical Technology, Clinical Research, Comparative Medicine, and Research Infrastructure.

The Center established the Research Centers in Minority Institutions Clinical Research Infrastructure Initiative to enable RCMI-eligible institutions with affiliated medical schools to develop their clinical research infrastructure.

Three National Gene Vector Laboratories were established with joint funding from the NCRR; National Cancer Institute; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; and NIH Office of AIDS Research.

1996—An agreement was formalized between the NIH/NCRR Shared Instrumentation Grant program and the National Science Foundation's Multi-user Equipment Program to jointly review and fund single scientific instruments costing more than $500,000.

1997—NCRR's intramural programs were transferred to the NIH Division of Intramural Research Services within the NIH Office of Research Services.

The NCRR Reporter, a quarterly magazine formerly published by DRR as the Reporter, celebrated its first 20 years of publication.

1998—A comprehensive five-year strategic plan, NCRR—A Catalyst for Discovery—A Plan for the National Center for Research Resources: 1998-2003, was published.

NCRR established the NIH Chimpanzee Management Program.

1999—NCRR established the nation's eighth Regional Primate Research Center at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research—the first center to be added to the RPRC network since the 1960s.

NCRR established the Mutant Mouse Regional Resource Centers (MMRRC) program.

Eight "collaboratory" projects were initiated within the NCRR-supported Biomedical Technology Resource Centers to demonstrate and evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of conducting multi-investigator research utilizing the Internet.

A full-scale biosafety level-4 (BL4) laboratory—partially funded by NCRR—was dedicated at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in Texas. It is 1 of 4 federally supported BL4 labs nationwide, but the only such facility dedicated to basic molecular studies and investigation of long-term pathogenesis of deadly microbes.

2000—As part of the IDeA program, NCRR established Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence at independent institutions located in states with historically low aggregate success rates for obtaining NIH grants. The COBRE support thematic multidisciplinary centers that augment and strengthen institutional biomedical research capacity.

2001—NCRR launched the Biomedical Informatics Research Network, a shared network of neuroimaging databases that serves as a test bed for development of hardware, software and protocols for mining data in a site-independent manner for both basic and clinical research.

The first NIH-wide High-End Instrumentation grant program was established to enable institutions to purchase instruments that cost more than $1 million.

NCRR began providing Science Education Partnership Awards (SEPA) to science centers and museums nationwide to enhance the reach of unique health-related education programs.

2002—NCRR, along with five other NIH components, issued infrastructure enhancement awards to increase the capacity for basic research using human embryonic stem cells for preclinical investigations. The awards, which support entities listed on the NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry, were designed to increase the supplies and access to self-renewing cells that are well characterized for quality controls.

A private, nonprofit organization received a contract to establish and operate a sanctuary for chimpanzees no longer needed for biomedical research. The Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act of December 2000 mandated such a sanctuary.

The eight Regional Primate Research Centers were renamed as National Primate Research Centers (NPRCs) to reflect their enhanced emphasis on providing nonhuman primates and related resources to biomedical scientists nationwide.

The Rat Resource and Research Center (RRRC), established at the University of Missouri (Columbia), serves as a resource for the study of rat models for biomedical research worldwide. The RRRC imports, cryopreserves, produces, and distributes high-quality laboratory rats.

2003—To address the challenges inherent in diagnosing and treating rare diseases, NCRR and other NIH components established the Rare Disease Clinical Research Network, which consists of 7 Rare Diseases Clinical Research Centers and a Data and Technology Coordinating Center. Each research center consists of a consortium of clinical investigators partnering with patient-support groups and institutions within and outside of the United States that have agreed to work together studying a group of rare diseases.

NCRR and the NIH National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) awarded a grant to Tuskegee University to complete its National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care. The grant allows the university to provide research and teaching facilities for faculty, researchers, and visiting scholars for studies in bioethics, public health, and integrated bioscience programs. The Center is the nation's first bioethics institute dedicated to addressing issues that involve African Americans and other vulnerable or disadvantaged populations.

IDeANet (an Internet-based network providing connectivity for high-bandwidth science applications. IDeANet enables collaboration among institutions) began with the funding of a test-bed consortium of six IDeA states (called the Lariat Project) to provide increased connectivity for high-bandwidth science applications and facilitate collaborations among these and other institutions. IDeANet enhances IT infrastructure by providing support for staff in bioinformatics and data management cores, computer hardware and software, and Internet2 broad-bandwidth access for biomedical applications. It was intended to relieve strategic bottlenecks in connectivity entering states and to improve Internet performance at many sites throughout the IDeA states.

The Division of Comparative Medicine funded 3 new resource centers. A Viper Resource Center was established at Texas A&M University in Kingsville, Texas, to provide a resource of more than 400 venomous snakes. A National Swine Research and Resource Center was established at the University of Missouri-Columbia to serve as a national repository and distribution center for genetically modified swine. The Drosophila Genomics Resource Center, housed at the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ill, was created to assist researchers in applying genomics in the model organism Drosophila by assuring economical access to quality-controlled genomics materials.

Three new resources were developed to integrate technologies that enhance the study of proteomics and glycomics, two emerging fields that seek to identify and uncover the structures, functions, and interactions of the thousands of proteins (proteomics) or carbohydrates (glycomics) found in cells. The new resources were the Proteomics Research Resource for Integrative Biology at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Integrated Technology Resource for Biomedical Glycomics at the University of Georgia, and the Integrated Proteome Technologies for Pathway Mapping resource at the University of Michigan, which houses a high-throughput robotic analysis system.

Tulane University, in New Orleans, established a center for the preparation, quality testing, and distribution of adult stem cells. Using standardized protocols, the center prepares and distributes a continuous supply of marrow stromal cells derived from adult human and rat bone marrow.

2004—A comprehensive five-year strategic plan, 2004-2008 Strategic Plan: Challenges and Critical Choices, was published, based on the input of biomedical investigators, senior administrators in research organizations, scholarly organizations and NIH senior program staff. The Strategic Plan guided NCRR's priorities for investments, including local and national networks, research resources, technology development, instrumentation, biological models, and biomedical informatics tools to facilitate research intended to prevent, alleviate, or treat human disease.

Using existing resources and centers, NCRR began serving as a significant partner in many NIH Roadmap initiatives, including those under the theme of Re-engineering the Clinical Research Enterprise. NCRR was the lead Center partnering with other NIH components to support Exploratory Centers for Interdisciplinary Research. NCRR was also the lead NIH component supporting National Technology Centers for Networks and Pathways. Additionally, NCRR supports the National Centers for Biomedical Computing initiative.

Comprehensive Centers on Health Disparities were established to systematically address one or more of the health disparities that negatively impact racial and ethnic minority populations served by the grantee institutions. The new centers are: Meharry Medical College in Nashville; Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles; and the Puerto Rico consortium, which consists of the 3 accredited medical schools in Puerto Rico (the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, the Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine, and the Ponce School of Medicine.) The health disparities to be studied include a variety of cancers (breast, prostate, and colorectal); diabetes mellitus; renal disease; infant mortality; AIDS; and cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases.

2005—The Research Centers in Minority Institutions program celebrated its 20th anniversary. Launched in 1985 with Congressional support, the RCMI program fosters environments that are conducive to excellence in basic, clinical and behavioral research. Through training and career development opportunities, the RCMI program also establishes a critical mass of scientists that more closely reflect the growing ethnic and cultural diversity of the U.S. population.

The WiCell Research Institute in Wisconsin was awarded $16.1 million over four years to fund a National Stem Cell Bank. The Bank will consolidate many of the federally funded eligible human embryonic stem cell lines in one location, reduce the costs that researchers have to pay for the cells, and maintain quality control over the cells. The Stem Cell Bank provides scientists affordable and timely access to federally approved human embryonic stem cells and other technical support that will make it easier for scientists to obtain the cell lines currently listed on the NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry.

Chimp Haven, the first federally funded chimpanzee sanctuary, opened on October 28, 2005. The sanctuary, funded by an NCRR contract, provides lifetime care for federally owned or supported chimpanzees that are no longer needed for biomedical research. NCRR also awarded construction grants so that Chimp Haven could develop and build a state-of-the-art facility that closely resembles the chimpanzees' natural habitat. The sanctuary was established in response to the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act of December 2000, which authorized $30 million in federal dollars for the sanctuary.

2006—The Clinical and Translational Science Awards program was launched to form a national consortium of research institutions that work together to transform the discipline of clinical and translational science. Led by NCRR, the CTSA Consortium was initiated through funding to 12 academic health centers located throughout the nation. An additional 52 awardees received planning grants to help them prepare applications to join the consortium. When fully implemented, the consortium will support approximately 60 CTSAs. CTSA Consortium members share a common vision to reduce the time it takes for laboratory discoveries to become treatments for patients, to engage communities in clinical research efforts, and to train a new generation of clinical and translational researchers.

By encouraging collaboration across disciplines, CTSA consortium members use innovative approaches to tackle research challenges and train clinical and translational researchers. As a direct result of the CTSA program, researchers are working together in new ways to advance medical research across many disease areas and conditions, including cancer, neurological disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. The CTSA Consortium's Web site (CTSAWeb.org) helps to ensure access to CTSA resources, to enhance communications and to encourage information sharing.

The Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network, an initiative of the NIH Office of Rare Diseases and NCRR—in collaboration with many NIH Institutes, facilitates clinical research of rare diseases. More than 20 studies opened at approximately 50 sites across the United States and in several other countries including the United Kingdom, Japan, and Brazil. The network has received five-year funding awards totaling $71 million.

NIH also awarded a set of cooperative agreements, totaling up to $52 million over five years, to launch the Knockout Mouse Project. The goal of this program was to build a comprehensive and publicly available resource of knockout mutations in the mouse genome. NCRR was one of the 19 NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices contributing to the Knockout Mouse Project.

2007—In April, NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., named Barbara Alving, M.D., M.A.C.P., as the director of NCRR. Dr. Alving joined NIH in 1999. She previously served as acting director of NCRR as well as NHLBI.

In September, NCRR expanded the CTSA consortium from 12 to 24 academic health centers. The consortium's major goal is to speed the translation of laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients. Currently, the CTSA consortium is working to address three major priorities: standardizing clinical research informatics, streamlining institutional review board processes, and developing national curricula for clinical and translational science. When fully implemented in 2012, 60 institutions will be linked together to energize the discipline of clinical and translational science. View Image.

Scientists have now added a third primate to the list of sequenced genomes: the rhesus macaque, Macaca mulatta. This old-world monkey is the nonhuman primate most widely used in biomedical studies focusing on major diseases, such as AIDS and diabetes. Its genome sequence is reported in the April 13, 2007, issue of Science. The sequencing, funded by NIH's National Human Genome Research Institute, was performed at the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center in Houston; the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University in St. Louis; and the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md. It was based on the DNA from a single individual—a female rhesus macaque housed at the NCRR-funded NPRC at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio. The California, Oregon and Yerkes NPRCs, also funded by NCRR, contributed additional biological samples used in the study. View Image.

NCRR provided $9.5 million over three years to launch a Translational Research Network that will increase the opportunity for multi-site clinical and translational research among minority and other collaborating institutions throughout the nation. Investigators at these institutions are focused on cancer, diabetes, renal disease, infant mortality, HIV/AIDS and cardiovascular diseases—all of which disproportionately affect minority populations.

Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University's NPRC—funded by NCRR—made a significant breakthrough in efforts to develop human stem cell therapies to combat devastating diseases. For the first time, scientists successfully derived embryonic stem cells by reprogramming the genetic material of skin cells from rhesus macaque monkeys. Related future studies will have the potential to accelerate progress in regenerative medicine.

A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers led by Dr. James Thomson reported the genetic reprogramming of human skin cells to create cells apparently indistinguishable from embryonic stem cells. This alternative to the embryo-based cloning technique shows that human skin cells can be reprogrammed into so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells that look and act like embryonic stem cells. These iPS cells could be used to generate patient-specific stem cells. Using this new reprogramming technique (inserting viral genes into adult human skin cells), the Wisconsin group developed eight new stem cell lines.

NCRR released a multimedia presentation—Harnessing Innovation to Advance Human Health—that provides an overview of the Center's mission, grant programs and resources.

2008—The NCRR Strategic Plan 2009–2013: Translating Research from Basic Discovery to Improved Patient Care, was published. This comprehensive five-year strategic plan reflects extensive discussions and advice from a broad spectrum of individuals, including biomedical scientists, senior administrators in research institutions, members of professional organizations, and NIH senior program staff. Implementation of the plan requires that NCRR continue to develop and explore creative ways to partner with other federal government agencies and additional organizations, both public and private. NCRR also will continue to enlist the help of researchers and administrators across the biomedical research community to ensure successful implementation of the plan and its continued evolution in response to new challenges and discoveries.

Fourteen academic health centers in 11 states became the newest members of the National Institutes of Health's CTSA consortium. These 14 centers joined 24 others announced in 2006 and 2007. Creating a unique network of medical research institutions across the nation, the consortium works to reduce the time it takes for laboratory discoveries to become treatments for patients and to engage communities in clinical research efforts. The 2008 CTSA grants expanded state representation in the consortium to Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts and Utah. They also supported pediatric research at 13 dedicated children's hospitals, expanded research in genetics and genomics, enhanced research in behavioral immunology and infection risk, and increased outreach into local communities. View Image.

CTSA institutions have formed regional networks within the national consortium. Such networks have formed on the West Coast, in the Midwest, and on the East Coast, improving collaboration between CTSA institutions in these areas. These regional alliances also provide opportunities to cultivate equitable and collaborative partnerships between regional communities and the CTSA institutions, create new ways to disseminate information about research findings, and conduct research that leads to measurable improvements in community health.

CTSA networks also are building partnerships with other NCRR programs—such as the Institutional Development Awards and the Research Centers in Minority Institutions programs—through research collaborations, visiting professorships, working groups, and sharing and leveraging resources and infrastructure. The goal is to extend the CTSA philosophy of interdisciplinary interactions and connectivity to generate partnerships and collaboration beyond the consortium to organizations involved with health care throughout the nation. These partnerships enable scientists to expand research opportunities and to share their expertise and resources to further advance clinical and translational research.

Scientists developed the first genetically altered monkey model that replicates some symptoms observed in patients with Huntington's disease, according to a new study funded by NCRR. Researchers are now able to better understand this complex, devastating and incurable genetic disorder affecting the brain. This advance, reported in the May 18 advance online edition of Nature, could lead to major breakthroughs in the effort to develop new treatments for a range of neurological diseases. View Image.

NCRR funded five new IDeA grants over the next five years. The awards support multidisciplinary centers that strengthen institutional biomedical research capability and enhance research infrastructure. The IDeA program is designed to improve the competitiveness of investigators in states that historically have not received significant levels of competitive NIH research funding. The new centers are being established at the University at Hawaii, Manoa to study reproductive biology; University of Kentucky to identify mechanisms linking the epidemic of obesity to cardiovascular disease; University of Louisville Research Foundation, Inc., to study the cardiovascular causes and consequences of diabetes and obesity; University of Nebraska Medical Center to research nanomedicine, drug delivery, therapeutics and diagnostics; and The Mind Research Network, a nonprofit research organization in Albuquerque, N.M., to study the neural mechanisms of schizophrenia.

2009—Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, NCRR provided the following funding opportunities: $1 billion for extramural core facilities and other construction, renovation or repair; $300 million in high-end and shared instrumentation awards; approximately $200 million in Challenge Grants in health and science research; and approximately $215 million in Administrative Supplements, including $15 million to support core facilities consolidation. View Image.

NCRR's Recovery Act awards included $27 million to the University of Florida and Harvard University Medical School to harness the power of social networking. This initiative is bringing the power of Internet-based tools, as exemplified by social networking, to biomedical research. These modern technologies for communication and collaboration have the potential to enhance interdisciplinary research by enabling individuals to connect with each other and with resources irrespective of location to address challenges in new ways.

Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) were made to eight additional academic health centers, bringing the consortium to 46 member institutions. This national network of medical research institutions works to reduce the time it takes for laboratory discoveries to become treatments for patients, to engage communities in clinical research efforts and to train clinical and translational researchers. NCRR also released the first CTSA Progress Report 2006 – 2008, which outlines the impact of the CTSA program in its first two years. View Image.

NCRR announced ResearchMatch.org, a not-for-profit, free, secure Web site designed to provide people who are interested in participating in research the opportunity to be matched with studies that may be the right fit for them. A collaborative effort of the national network of medical research institutions affiliated with the CTSAs, the site is the first disease-neutral, volunteer recruitment registry.

NCRR awarded $8.5 million through 18 grants to 17 CTSA institutions to support studies of pharmaceutical treatments for children. The funding supports studies that focus on three areas critical to health (pediatric cardiology, neonatology and pediatric neurology) and is part of NIH's continuing efforts in studying drugs for use in pediatric populations.

Researchers at the Center for Functional Imaging Technologies at Massachusetts General Hospital —an NCRR-supported Biomedical Technology Research Center (BTRC)—created a powerful MRI brain-scanning instrument that it can detect the tiniest of lesions, even those as small as blood vessels. The instrument uses dozens of overlapping coils that pick up the MRI signal, all built into a helmet that fits closely to the patient's head. The Center for Functional Imaging Technologies is one of more than 50 NCRR-funded BTRCs across the United States that enable researchers to develop and distribute new technologies and methodologies. View Image.

NCRR's support of its Institutional Development Award program in 2009 included $274 million over the next five years for IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) in 16 IDeA-eligible states. In addition, NCRR granted $137.4 million for its IDeA Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) program, including $20.4 million for two new COBREs in Rhode Island and South Carolina. The IDeA program fosters health-related research and enhances the competitiveness of investigators at institutions located in states in which the aggregate success rate for applications to NIH historically has been low. The program also serves unique populations—such as rural and medically underserved communities—in these states.

Through the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) program, NCRR awarded $75 million to support four institutions over the next five years. Three of the four institutions will receive funding through a new program, the RCMI Infrastructure for Clinical and Translational Research (RCTR). The fourth grant establishes a new RCMI center at Xavier University of Louisiana. The three institutions receiving RCTR awards are Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (Los Angeles), Meharry Medical College (Nashville) and Morehouse School of Medicine (Atlanta).

NCRR awarded an estimated total of $19.2 million along—with nearly $1.4 million in funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences—to fund 17 Science Education Partnership Awards. The awards provide two to five years of grant support to stimulate scientific curiosity and encourage hands-on science education activities among students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The grants support partnerships among scientists, educators, museums and community organizations to encourage choosing science as a career path and to improve public understanding of NIH-funded biomedical research. View Image.

2010—As mandated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, NCRR continued to administer and award funding for construction, instrumentation and biomedical research activities to advance human health.

Research institutions across the nation will use NCRR-administered Recovery Act construction funds to help advance studies in disease areas such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, autism, pediatric illnesses and other health disorders. For example, the awards include nearly $8.5 million to create a state-of-the-art facility for pediatric clinical research at the Indiana University School of Medicine; $14.3 million to build a world-class data center at the Washington University School of Medicine to support human genome research; $9.5 million to enable the San Francisco Department of Public Health to increase its capacity to recruit research participants and to provide critical data to HIV/AIDS researchers worldwide; and $9.5 million to Rutgers University to broaden the scope of its molecular biology services.

Recovery Act instrumentation grants included $7.8 million to the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, to purchase components for a 10.5 Tesla whole-body magnetic resonance imaging system; $8 million to researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, to purchase a powerful 950 megahertz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer; and $215,000 to investigators at the University of Washington, Seattle, to develop a multicolor total internal reflection fluorescence microscope, enabling them to examine cell division in greater detail.

The North East Cyberinfrastructure Consortium, established in part with NCRR Recovery Act funding, began work on determining the genome sequence of the little skate (Leucoraja erinacea) — one of 11 non-mammalian organisms strategically selected for sequencing by an NIH National Human Genome Research Institute advisory panel because the skate shares characteristics with the human immune, circulatory and nervous systems.

In addition to its Recovery Act grants, NCRR made Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) to nine academic health centers, increasing the CTSA consortium membership to 55 institutions. This national network of medical research institutions works to reduce the time it takes for laboratory discoveries to become treatments for patients, to engage communities in clinical research efforts, and to train clinical and translational researchers. The 2010 CTSAs expanded consortium representation to new areas including New Mexico, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

A website created by University of Washington researcher Eric Chudler, with funding from an NCRR Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA), won the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education. The prize recognizes exceptional online materials that are available free of charge to science educators. The website, "Neuroscience for Kids," provides some 150 million file downloads each year.

With pilot funding from the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, supported through the CTSA program, researchers studied sticky proteins produced by the foot of the common mussel (Mytilus edulis). Northwestern University researcher Phillip Messersmith developed synthetic materials mimicking these proteins that can stick to different surfaces even in wet environments. Messersmith tested these mussel-based "glues" to repair tears that occur in amniotic sacs, a complication of some pregnancies. View Image.

At NCRR-funded Biomedical Technology Research Centers, interdisciplinary teams created unique, transformative technologies and promoted their widespread use. During the past decade, University of California, Irvine, biomedical engineering professor Bruce Tromberg has been developing a device that uses thousands of colors of low-energy light to look at breast cancers in a new way. This noninvasive device, called a Laser Breast Scanner, conducts noninvasive, functional imaging of breast tumors and may help to improve cancer treatment while also lowering health care costs.

Researchers led by Chris Johnson at the University of Utah's NCRR-supported Center for Integrative Biomedical Computing developed an iPhone application that is changing how and where doctors practice medicine. The ImageVis3D Mobile visualization program enables them to retrieve and view high-resolution 3-D medical images on their mobile phones. View Image.

NCRR also funded the development of genetically engineered rodents and research rodent colonies. A research team led by Qi-Long Ying at the University of Southern California demonstrated that a gene-targeting mutation in rat embryonic stem cells can be transmitted through the germline to produce rats with the same mutation, providing a powerful new approach for creating models to study gene function relevant to human diseases. View Image.

At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, NCRR veterinary career development participant Rebecca Johnson studied rat models of diseases that affect myelin, such as Multiple Sclerosis. Severely affected MS patients often suffer from complications in breathing, but the cause is unclear. By studying rats that lack myelin in the brain and spinal cord, Johnson discovered that these animals have abnormalities in central nervous system signals that cause the diaphragm to contract and draw air into the lungs, which in turn may explain relationships between myelin disorders and breathing control in humans. View Image.

NCRR IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) researchers at the National Center for Genome Resources in Santa Fe, N.M., and their collaborators from the University of California at San Francisco; Stanford Medical School, Calif.; Wayne State Medical School, Mich.; Illumina Inc.; and Genentech, integrated state-of-the-art next generation DNA sequencing and analysis technologies to compare genes, gene activity and methylation gene controls associated with Multiple Sclerosis. Their work underscored the potential significance of environmental exposures and other non-genetic factors in complex disorders.

2011—NCRR made new Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) to five academic health centers, increasing the CTSA consortium membership to 60 institutions. This national network of medical research institutions supports the innovation and partnerships necessary to bridge the traditional divides between basic research and medical practice.

With NCRR support from the Weill Cornell Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC), Michelle Bradbury, a clinician-scientist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and her collaborators have taken C-dots through federal regulatory approvals and into their first ever clinical study with melanoma patients. Innovative research funding and a diverse team of experts at both the cancer center and Cornell University helped to facilitate her research and expedite the protocol process. Bradbury is hopeful that imaging cancer tumors with C-dots could one day help surgeons better identify metastatic disease, define tumor margins and provide targeted tumor therapy — all in one platform.

NCRR electronically published the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Progress Report 2009 – 2011 Foundations for Accelerated Discovery and Efficient Translation. This report illustrates how the CTSA-funded institutions are supporting discoveries for health at the local, regional and national levels.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center was awarded a five-year, $20 million federal grant to coordinate the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Consortium. The CTSA Consortium has generated resources that enhance the efficiency and quality of clinical and translational research, such as a searchable database of potential industry partners to aid scientists seeking public-private partnerships to take their research hto the next level. Another example is a secure Web application designed to assist scientific teams with research data collection, sharing and management.

NCRR provided approximately $31.8 million to fund 18 Science Education Partnership Awards (SEPAs). SEPAs provide two to five years of support to stimulate scientific curiosity and encourage hands-on science education activities. By supporting interactions among scientists, educators and community organizations, the SEPA program helps improve public understanding of NIH-funded medical research and encourages the participation of young people in science careers.

NCRR provided $2.5 million to the National Center for Image-Guided Therapy at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School to develop the Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating (AMIGO) Suite, a one-of-a-kind surgical facility combining real-time imaging of X-ray fluoroscopy and ultrasound with computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET). AMIGO enables radiologists, surgeons, engineers, computer scientists and physicists to work together to introduce, test and perfect cutting-edge surgical procedures for a wide range of diseases. Surgical teams already have used the suite for minimally invasive brain tumor surgery as well as prostate and renal biopsies.

NCRR awarded five-year grants to the University of California, San Diego, and Vanderbilt University to develop two new Biomedical Technology Research Centers (BTRCs). These BTRCs provide researchers with access to specialized tools, training and equipment. The National Resource for Network Biology is funded by a $6.5 million grant to the University of California, San Diego, and directed by Trey Ideker. This resource is developing bioinformatic tools to visualize complex biological networks and to model their function. The new National Resource for Imaging Mass Spectrometry, funded by a $10 million grant to Vanderbilt University and headed by Richard Caprioli, develops new technologies and methods for in situ mass spectrometry directly from tissue sections.

Using an advanced Shared Instrumentation Grant-funded Flow Cytometer, researchers at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences have discovered cell cycle abnormalities associated with Adult T-Cell Leukemia/Lymphoma. These changes can be partially reversed in vitro using an anti-tumor agent. This work, which was published in the Journal of Virology in March 2011, may lead to new therapies.

Researchers at the NCRR-supported National Resource for Mass Spectrometric Analysis of Biological Macromolecules, a BTRC at Rockefeller University, discovered a potential HIV vaccine target. Passive transfer of broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies can prevent infection. This suggests that vaccines eliciting such antibodies would be protective. In the September 2011 issue of Science, the Rockefeller team identified broad and potent antibodies that mimic CD4 binding. CD4 provides a way for HIV to access host T-cells and a potential vaccine target.

Immunologist Louis Picker and a team of investigators at the Oregon Health & Science University developed a new vaccine strategy for HIV in nonhuman primates. The vaccine strategy uses a benign, yet ever-present virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV) to carry HIV's unique proteins. To develop the vaccine, Picker worked in the rhesus monkey model of HIV at the NCRR-funded Oregon National Primate Research Center. By continuing to leverage the primate center’s resources, Picker ultimately hopes to develop a human version of the vaccine. Results of this research were published in the May 26, 2011 issue of Nature.

James A. Thomson directed the group at the NCRR-funded Wisconsin National Primate Research Center that isolated embryonic stem cell lines from rhesus and marmoset monkeys in 1995 and 1996. He then led his group to the successful isolation of human embryonic stem cell lines in 1998. For this work, Thomson was named winner of the 2011 Albany Medical Center Prize, which he shares with Elaine Fuchs, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher at Rockefeller University, and Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University.

NCRR-funded researcher Pierre Comizzoli of the Smithsonian Institution received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for his innovative fertility work in September 2011. He has been investigating innovative processes relating to fertility — including methods for isolating and drying the DNA of egg cells, which is a less expensive and easier alternative to freezing and preserving the entire egg. His work, funded by NCRR, could someday be used not only to extend human fertility but also to save endangered species.

John Postlethwait, researcher and professor of biology at the University of Oregon Institute of Neuroscience, and his team screened thousands of drug candidates for activity against mutations that cause Fanconi anemia (FA), a rare genetic blood disease. With NCRR support, they developed a model system in zebrafish that carries the human genes for FA and exhibits structural changes that parallel some of those found in humans with the disease.

Supported by NCRR's Institutional Development Award Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence program, Elena Batrakova strives to get drugs past the brain's protective blood barrier using nanoparticles. Nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems form the crux of nanomedicine — applying the technology of extremely small engineered particles to improve medicine — and have been particularly useful for targeting chronic diseases. For her Parkinson’s research, she used macrophages to deliver nanozymes that destroy inflammation-causing free radicals behind the blood-brain barrier in mice. Using the resources of the NCRR-supported University of Nebraska’s Center for Drug Delivery and Nanomedicine, Batrakova’s Parkinson's disease mouse model holds promise for the human disorder as well as other neurodegenerative diseases.

NCRR-supported investigator Emily Scott, an associate professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Kansas, received national recognition for her innovative research. Scott conducts pioneering research on the structure and function of membrane cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are proteins responsible for breaking down drugs and other foreign chemicals in the body. For this work, the Drug Metabolism and Disposition Division of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics selected Scott for its 2011 Early Career Achievement Award. Scott's research, which received early support from NCRR, examines how the shapes and chemical features of these enzymes influence which drugs and chemicals they can break down. These findings help us understand how chemical toxicity works and someday could contribute to a new therapy to prevent lung cancer in tobacco users.

Paul Tchounwou and his team at Jackson State University's Center for Environmental Health, funded by NCRR's Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) program, studied the effects of a chemotherapy drug called arsenic trioxide and the immune booster vitamin C as a therapy for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). People with APL produce abnormal white blood cells that never mature and that accumulate in the bone marrow, crowding out normal cells. Patients suffer from decreased red blood cell production, which causes them to feel tired and weak; they also bruise easily and are more susceptible to infections. Tchounwou’s therapy enables doctors to identify APL by a characteristic genetic change that affects a cellular protein that recognizes vitamin C.

RCMI-funded Morehouse School of Medicine microbiologist Jonathan Stiles discovered a way to detect Plasmodium falciparum — the parasite responsible for human malaria — without the need for blood. Focusing instead on saliva, he and his research team developed a noninvasive way to detect Plasmodium antigens, telltale signs of the parasite's presence. This finding has the potential to one day revolutionize malaria screening efforts in resource-poor countries.

NCRR Legislative Chronology

July 30, 1956—The Health Research Facilities Act of 1956 (Title VII of the Public Health Service act) authorized a PHS program of federal matching grants to public and nonprofit institutions for the construction of health research facilities. 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 $23.9 million 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 Facilities Improvement Program was created in DRR in response to this legislation.

November 6, 1990—Public Law 101-613, NIH Revitalization Act of l990, mandated new programs, specified program funding levels, and reauthorized existing activities.

June 10, 1993—Public Law 103-43, NIH Revitalization Act of l993, provided the statutory authority to redesignate DRR as NCRR and the authority to fund construction of biomedical and behavioral research facilities, with a special provision for centers of excellence and regional centers for research utilizing nonhuman primates. It also authorized the Institutional Development Award program, which supports programs in states that historically have been unsuccessful in competing for NIH grants.

November 13, 2000—The Clinical Research Enhancement Act of 2000, which is Title II of the Public Health Improvement Act [Minibus] (P.L. 106-505), provided the NCRR director with statutory authority to award grants for the establishment of GCRCs. The bill also required the NIH director to establish a Loan Repayment Program to encourage recruitment of new clinical investigators and to award grants that will enhance clinical research career development.

November 13, 2000—The Twenty-First Century Research Laboratories Act, which is Title III of the Public Health Improvement Act [Minibus] (P.L. 106-505), authorized $250 million for FY 2001 to the NCRR director to make grants or contracts to public and nonprofit private entities to expand, remodel, renovate, or alter existing research facilities or to construct new research facilities, including centers of excellence. It also authorized such sums as necessary for FY 2002 and FY 2003. In addition, the Act created, in statute, a specific authorization for NCRR's Shared Instrumentation Grant program, authorizing $100 million for FY 2000 and such sums as necessary for subsequent fiscal years.

December 20, 2000—The Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act (P.L. 106-551) required NIH to enter into a contract with a nonprofit private entity for the purpose of operating a sanctuary system for the long-term care of chimpanzees that are no longer needed in research conducted or supported by the federal government. The law provides for standards for permanent retirement of chimpanzees into the system, including prohibiting using sanctuary chimpanzees for research except in specified circumstances.

January 15, 2007—President George W. Bush signed into law the NIH Reform Act of 2006. Of specific importance to NCRR, the legislation enhances the Clinical and Translational Science Awards by requiring the establishment of a mechanism to preserve independent funding and infrastructure for pediatric clinical research centers.

December 26, 2007—President Bush signed into law P.L. 110-170, the Chimp Haven is Home Act. Provisions modified the program for the sanctuary system for surplus chimpanzees by terminating the authority for the removal of chimpanzees from the system for research purposes.

February 17, 2009—President Obama signed into law P.L. 111-5, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Provisions included $1 billion for NCRR's Extramural Construction program, $300 million for NCRR's Shared Instrumentation Grant program, and approximately $300 million for NCRR's biomedical research priorities.

December 23, 2011— President Obama signed into law P.L. 112-74, the Fiscal Year 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act. As part of this legislation, the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) was dissolved and its' programs were re-assigned to the following NIH Institutes and Centers:

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

  • Clinical and Translational Science Awards
  • Related Small Business (SBIR/STTR) Grants

NIH Office of the Director, Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives, Office of Research Infrastructure Programs

  • All Division of Comparative Medicine Programs
    • Nonhuman Primate Resources
    • Vertebrate and Invertebrate Animal Resources
    • Genetic, Biological and Other Resources
    • Human Tissue and Organ Resource for Research
    • Career Development
  • Extramural Construction
  • Research and Animal Facilities Improvement
  • Shared and High-End Instrumentation Grants
  • Science Education Partnership Awards
  • Related Small Business (SBIR/STTR) Grants

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

  • Imaging and Point-of-Care Diagnostics Biomedical Technology Research Centers
  • Investigator-Initiated Research Grants for Technology Research and Development
    • R21 Instrument Development Grants Specific to Imaging and Poinre Diagnostics
    • Small Business Grants Related to Imaging and Point-Of-Care Diagnostt-of-Care Diagnostics
    • All Other Research Project Grants Related to Imaging and Point-Of-Caics

National Institute of General Medical Sciences

  • Institutional Development Awards
  • Basic, Molecular and Cellular Research Biomedical Technology Research Centers
  • Investigator-Initiated Research Grants for Technology Research and Development
    • R21 Instrument Development Grants Specific to Basic, Molecular and Cellular Research
    • All Other Research Project Grants Related to Basic, Molecular and Cellular Research
    • Small Business Grants Related to Basic, Molecular and Cellular Research
  • Biomedical Informatics Research Network
  • Technology Centers for Networks and Pathways
  • All Synchrotron-Related Activities

National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

  • Research Centers in Minority Institutions

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

  • Pancreatic Islet Cell Resource Centers

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

  • National Gene Vector Biorepository

Biographical Sketch of NCRR Acting Director Louise E. Ramm, Ph.D.

Louise E. Ramm, Ph.D., served as the acting director of the National Center for Research Resources at the National Institutes of Health from October 1 to December 23, 2011. She earned her Ph.D. in microbiology at the University of Virginia. After post-doctoral training in biochemistry, also at the University of Virginia, she became a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the Microbiology Department.

In 1977, Dr. Ramm joined the Microbiology Department at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, serving as research scientist. From 1982 to 1987, she served as a research associate in Hopkins’ Subdepartment of Immunology.

Later in 1987, Dr. Ramm joined the Division of Research Resources, the predecessor organization of NCRR, as a health scientist administrator in the Biological Models and Materials Program and subsequently became the director of the program. She has served as the NCRR deputy director since 1994 and also has served as the director of extramural activities.

In addition, Dr. Ramm has served as the executive secretary of National Advisory Research Resources Council and in various capacities on numerous other NIH committees. She has been an invited lecturer at many biomedical research conferences. Her research in immunochemistry, particularly in the interactions and structure of the complement proteins with cell membranes, resulted in numerous peer-reviewed publications.

NCRR Directors

Name In Office from To
Frederick L. Stone July 1962 June 1965
Thomas J. Kennedy July 1965 November 1969
Thomas G. Bowery November 1969 December 1981
James F. O'Donnell (Acting) January 1981 September 1982
Betty H. Pickett October 1982 October 1988
Robert A. Whitney, Jr. November 1988 August 1992
Judith L. Vaitukaitis September 1992 March 2005
Barbara M. Alving (Acting) April 2005 March 2007
Barbara M. Alving April 2007 October 2011
Louise E. Ramm, Ph.D. (Acting) October 2011 December 2011

Major Extramural Programs

Division of Biomedical Technology

Biomedical Technology Research Centers

The Division of Biomedical Technology supported the development of a broad spectrum of technologies, techniques and methods via more than 50 Biomedical Technology Research Centers (BTRCs) at academic and other research institutions nationwide. The BTRCs develop versatile new technologies and methods that help researchers who are studying virtually every human disease, each creating innovative technologies in one of five broad areas: imaging resources, informatics resources, optical and laser technology, structural biology, and systems biology. They are complemented by programs providing research project grants to individual investigators and small businesses, often focusing on high-risk, high-reward technological innovation.

These resources create critical, often unique technology and methods at the forefront of their respective fields, and apply them to a broad range of basic, translational and clinical research. This is accomplished through a synergistic interaction of technical and biomedical expertise, both within the resources and through intensive collaborations with other leading laboratories.

BTRCs serve a unique purpose in the broad context of NIH-funded research. They represent a wealth of technological and intellectual resources focused on service and training for investigators. To accelerate translational research, BTRCs actively disseminate technologies, methods and software through approaches ranging from direct distribution to commercialization. The goal of the centers is to promote widespread application of cutting-edge technological discoveries across the full spectrum of science and medicine, from bench to bedside.

Since the dissolution of NCRR, the BTRCs are being administered by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Biomedical Informatics Research Network

The Biomedical Informatics Research Network (BIRN), funded by NCRR through December 2011, uses emerging technologies to enhance collaborative efforts that integrate data, expertise and unique technologies from research centers across the country. The collaborative infrastructure is used by BIRN test beds to create new tools and procedures that enable multi-site studies and also benefit single-laboratory research. The tools and datasets, and the underlying collaborative infrastructure, are publicly available. Collaborations within BIRN include scientists in a large number of biomedical sub-disciplines as well as computer scientists and engineers who are creating this cyberinfrastructure.

BIRN tools currently focus on neuroscience and are available to researchers worldwide as they pursue the causes and new treatments of Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, major depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism. However, researchers in other medical fields, including cardiology and cancer, also can benefit from this infrastructure to support collaborative research and sharing of data and applications.

Since the dissolution of NCRR, BIRN is being administered by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Shared Instrumentation Grant

The Shared Instrumentation Grant (SIG) program provides funding—using the S10 funding mechanism—to institutions to purchase commercially available, expensive, technologically sophisticated equipment for use by groups of NIH-supported researchers. Examples of instrumentation supported by SIG funding include nuclear magnetic resonance systems, electron and confocal microscopes, mass spectrometers, protein and DNA sequencers, biosensors, X-ray diffractometers, and cell sorters. Shared use of these high-sensitivity and high-resolution instruments, essential to understanding fundamental biological processes, optimizes this federal investment. The SIG mechanism provides between $100,000 and $600,000 for the purchase of such instruments.

Since the dissolution of NCRR, the SIG program is being administered by the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs within the Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives under the NIH Office of the Director.

High-End Instrumentation

Rapid technological development has led to the production of a new generation of advanced instruments. Instruments in this price range include structural and functional imaging systems, macromolecular NMR spectrometers, high-resolution mass spectrometers, electron microscopes and supercomputers. As the capabilities of these high-sensitivity, high-resolution instruments increases, so does their cost. To meet the investigators' needs for this advanced technology, in FY 2002, NCRR began the High-End Instrumentation (HEI) program, which allows institutions to acquire equipment that costs more than $750,000. The maximum award is $2 million. The HEI grant program complements the SIG program and also uses the S10 funding mechanism.

Since the dissolution of NCRR, the HEI program is being administered by the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs within the Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives under the NIH Office of the Director.

Division for Clinical Research Resources

The NCRR Division for Clinical Research Resources administered the Clinical and Translational Science Awards, a part of the NIH Common Fund enabling researchers to provide new treatments more efficiently and quickly to patients. The division also provided funding to biomedical research institutions to establish and maintain specialized clinical research facilities and clinical-grade biomaterials that enable clinical and patient-oriented research. The DCRR supported these resources through the following programs:

Clinical and Translational Science Awards

The Clinical and Translational Science Award program is designed to more rapidly and efficiently transfer discoveries made in the laboratory into new treatments for patients. Through the CTSAs, academic health centers are working together as a consortium to provide enriched resources to educate and develop the next generation of researchers trained in the complexities of translating research discoveries into clinical trials and ultimately into practice; design new and improved clinical research informatics tools for analyzing research data and managing clinical trials; support outreach to underserved populations, local community, and advocacy organizations and health care providers; assemble interdisciplinary teams that include biologists, clinical researchers, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, biomedical engineers, and veterinarians; and forge new partnerships with private and public health care organizations, including pharmaceutical companies, Veterans Administration hospitals, and health maintenance organizations as well as state health agencies. Additionally, each CTSA is creating an academic home at each grantee institution for clinical and translational research.

The CTSA program was reassigned from NCRR to the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

General Clinical Research Centers

NCRR funded a national network of General Clinical Research Centers (GCRCs) that provided settings for medical investigators to conduct safe, controlled, state-of-the-art, in-patient and out-patient studies of both children and adults. GCRCs also provided infrastructure and resources that supported several career development opportunities. Many of the GCRCs (except for the Baylor College of Medicine — Children) are now being funded under the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program.

National Gene Vector Biorepository

The National Gene Vector Biorepository and Coordinating Center was established on March 31, 2008. The Center stores tissue products for patients who received gene therapy products, purified vectors for pre-clinical and clinical trials. It also houses a searchable pharmacology/toxicology (P/T) database, a reagent repository, educational resources, and insertion site analysis. As of January 2010, it included 33 studies in the P/T database, archived over 70 reagents from seven sites including the NCI, stored 9,322 tissue samples with requests increasing at greater than 40 percent per 6 months, and completed testing on 67 samples for replication competent retrovirus. The site also received a 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act supplement for high-throughput sequencing for clonal outgrowth of vector transduced cells. The proposal requested support for the development of an alternative automated method to standard LM-PCR and LAM-PCR for cloning. The novel method required the development of a novel vector insertion site chip. The biorepository supports an information coordinating center and performs original research in gene vector toxicity. The National Gene Vector Biorepository and Coordinating Center at Indiana University serves as a critical resource for academic investigators conducting gene therapy research. It also seeks to further improve safety for research subjects through education and compliance efforts.

Since the dissolution of NCRR, the National Gene Vector Biorepository and Coordinating Center are being administered by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Human Tissues and Organs Resource

The Human Tissues and Organs Resource Cooperative Agreement supports a procurement network within the National Disease Research Interchange—a not-for-profit organization. By collaborating with various medical centers, hospitals, pathology services, eye banks, tissue banks and organ procurement organizations, the Resource provides a wide variety of human tissues and organs—both diseased and normal—to researchers for laboratory studies. Such samples include tissues from the nervous system, pulmonary system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, eyes, bone, and cartilage.

Since the dissolution of NCRR, the Human Tissues and Organs Resource is being administered by the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs within the Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives under the NIH Office of the Director.

Science Education Partnership Award

The Science Education Partnership Award program encourages scientists to work with educators and other organizations to improve students' (K-12) and the public's understanding of health sciences. The SEPA program supports development of a variety of model projects in biomedical and behavioral science education that make it feasible for scientists, educators, media and community leaders to partner in order to promote science by increasing science literacy. Past models have included a national video education program, a traveling and fixed museum exhibit about AIDS and other health issues, biotechnology research experiences for students and teachers, and health-promoting outreach programs for inner-city and rural communities. SEPA also funds mobile laboratories outfitted with state-of-the-art biotechnology equipment that provide opportunities for science education directly to students at their schools.

Since the dissolution of NCRR, the SEPA program is being administered by the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs within the Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives under the NIH Office of the Director.

Division of Comparative Medicine

The NCRR Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM) provided scientists with essential resources—including specialized laboratory animals, research facilities, training and other tools—that enable health-related discoveries. Animal models are a critical part of the biomedical research continuum to bridge the gap between basic science and human medicine. Division programs supported the maintenance and distribution of primate, rodent, aquatic and comparative animal models and resources. The division also funded a unique training program aimed at providing research training for veterinarians and veterinary students.

Since the dissolution of NCRR, DCM programs and resources are being administered by the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs within the Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives under the NIH Office of the Director.

Nonhuman Primates

Nonhuman primates are critical components in translational research because of their close physiological similarities to humans. They are used in hypothesis-based research to enable discoveries that allow investigators to relate their research findings directly to human health. Nonhuman primates also are used in pre-clinical, applied research studies to test therapeutic approaches and vaccines. NCRR funded a network of eight National Primate Research Centers, which provide the animals, facilities and expertise to enable studies of nonhuman primates. In addition, the NCRR supported more specialized resources and applied research grants that help to develop specific animal colonies, technologies and reagents that are complementary to, and synergize with, the research activities at the rest of the NPRCs and at other sites. Key research areas included infectious diseases (particularly AIDS), neurobiology, reproductive biology, bio-defense and regenerative medicine. Finally, the Chimpanzee Sanctuary provides housing and lifetime care for chimpanzees no longer needed for research.

Rodents

Rodents play a central role in research that can translate into treatments for human disease. Mice share much in common with human genetics, development, physiology, behavior and disease and are used to predict promising directions in biomedical research. NCRR's laboratory rodents program funded development of genetically engineered rodents and research rodent colonies, facilities that distribute rodents and related biological materials, and new ways to study, diagnose and eliminate laboratory rodent disease.

Aquatics

Some aquatic animals serve as models for studying human development, behavior and disease. With short reproductive cycles and transparent eggs that are easily observed as they develop, zebrafish are useful for research. Other aquatic models include marine slugs. NCRR's aquatic models program funded development and maintenance of critical genetic stocks, biological materials and online information for researchers.

Comparative Models

Comparative models that add flexibility and ease of manipulation in the early stages of the translational discovery process include fruit flies and round worms, which are genetically well characterized and inexpensive and can undergo many genetic manipulations. Results from experiments involving these less complex models can help scientists decide whether to pursue similar research with higher species. NCRR's Comparative Models program supported development and use of new and improved models that complement those more traditionally used to study human diseases.

Genetic, Biological and Information Resources

NCRR supported a variety of sources for genetic analysis services, array technology and databases. This program also supplied critical biological materials, such as stem cells, enzymes and proteinases, as well as online information on model organisms.

Research Training and Career Development Programs

Molecular and genomic studies using animal models help lay the foundation for translational research that benefits human health. Scientists with a background in veterinary medicine contribute unique expertise and important knowledge and skills to this paradigm. To address the significant shortage of trained veterinary researchers, NCRR funded National Research Science Award programs specifically aimed at biomedical research trainees with a veterinary medicine background; NCRR was the only unit within NIH to uniquely fulfill this need. These programs either introduce veterinary students to research during a summer session, allow veterinary students to immerse in a full-time pursuit of research studies for an entire academic year, or encourage graduated veterinarians to pursue biomedical research studies.

Division of Research Infrastructure

The Division of Research Infrastructure developed and invigorated the nation's research capacity and infrastructure at all stages of research—from basic discoveries in the laboratory to advanced treatments for patients. The division supported the following programs to enhance the competitiveness of investigators in underserved states and institutions and also provides funding to build, expand, remodel or renovate research facilities throughout the nation:

Research Centers in Minority Institutions

The Research Centers in Minority Institutions program developed and enhanced the research infrastructure of minority institutions by expanding human and physical resources for conducting basic, clinical and translational research. The RCMI program provided grants to institutions that award doctoral degrees in the health professions or health-related sciences and have enrollments that are predominately students from minority communities underrepresented in the biomedical sciences. These communities include African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Because many RCMI investigators study diseases that disproportionately affect minority populations—such as a variety of cancers, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and cardiovascular diseases—the program served the dual purpose of increasing the number of minority scientists engaged in biomedical research and enhancing studies on minority health.

The RCMI program supported research by: 1) providing a wide array of research resources to enhance institutional infrastructure, ranging from state-of-the-art instrumentation to outpatient clinical research facilities; 2) sponsoring faculty development, enrichment and expansion activities; 3) enhancing grants management and research development activities; 4) improving biostatistical and informatics resources and developing new technologies; 5) funding pilot projects; and 6) renovating laboratory and animal facilities. Since the dissolution of NCRR, the RCMI program is being administered by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Institutional Development Award

The Institutional Development Award program was initiated by Congress to broaden the geographical distribution of NIH grant funding for biomedical and behavioral research. Through the IDeA program, NCRR fostered health-related research and improves the competitiveness of investigators in states that historically have not received significant levels of competitive research funding from NIH. The program serves unique populations, such as minority, rural and medically underserved communities in these states. The IDeA program supports multidisciplinary centers or statewide networks of collaborative partnerships that increase the capacity to conduct cutting-edge biomedical research. Specifically, the IDeA program establishes Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence within institutions to explore multidisciplinary research themes and foster mentoring opportunities. It also creates IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence within a state that share multidisciplinary, thematic scientific goals. Funding for these networks supports statewide partnerships that include community colleges, tribal colleges, undergraduate and graduate/professional institutions. These networks serve as a "pipeline" for undergraduate students to continue in health research careers.

Since the dissolution of NCRR, the IDeA program is being administered by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Research and Animal Facilities Improvements

Research Facilities Improvement grants increase the nation's ability to conduct state-of-the-art research by providing competitive funding to modernize, repair, renovate and construct research facilities that support basic and/or clinical biomedical and behavioral research investigations. Funding has supported the construction and renovation of numerous biomedical research facilities. Through the Animal Facilities Improvement Program, NCRR provided federal funding to improve animal research facilities, including facility upgrades and the development of programs related to laboratory animal care and use.

Since the dissolution of NCRR, the Research and Animal Facilities Improvements program is being administered by the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs within the Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives under the NIH Office of the Director.

NCRR Information Dissemination

The purpose of the NCRR Reporter magazine was to foster communication, collaboration and resource sharing in areas of current interest to scientists and others in the biomedical research field.

The NCRR website presented information about Center programs and activities, while providing ready access to information of interest to both current and potential grantees. The site fostered communication, collaboration and resource sharing in areas of current interest to scientists and the public, as well as other stakeholders in research, such as leaders in academia, industry, voluntary health organizations, patient advocacy groups and scientific professional societies; policy makers; and science teachers.

NCRR's Twitter page offered real-time information about the Center and its grantees to websites and mobile devices. As do other Web-based social media platforms, Twitter allowed users to select content they wished to view, based on relationships and common interests.

NCRR's Facebook page informed social media users about the work accomplished by the Center's grantees and programs and also provided a gateway to the Center's public website. It complemented other NCRR Web communications efforts as well as those across NIH and other parts of the federal government.

This page last reviewed on May 1, 2012

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