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National Institute of Nursing Research

Mission | Important Events | Legislative Chronology | Director | Programs | Photo Gallery


The mission of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) is to promote and improve the health of individuals, families, and populations. NINR supports and conducts clinical and basic research and research training on health and illness across the lifespan to build the scientific foundation for clinical practice, prevent disease and disability, manage and eliminate symptoms caused by illness, and improve palliative and end-of-life care.

In focusing on this vision, NINR supports clinical and basic, extramural and intramural research to:

  • Explore the mechanisms underlying symptoms and develop personalized  treatments that address these mechanisms through symptom science research;
  • Enhance wellness in diverse groups through culturally-appropriate interventions designed to prevent illness and promote health;
  • Engage individuals as active participants in their own health, especially those with chronic illnesses and conditions through self-management;
  • Improve quality of life for patients with advanced and life-limiting illness, as well as their caregivers and families, through evidence-based palliative and end-of-life care; and
  • Develop new technologies that facilitate self-management, improve clinical care, and lead to better communication, care coordination, and clinical practice.

NINR also places great emphasis on research training to cultivate the next generation of nurse scientists. NINR-supported opportunities for research training are available for students beginning their research careers, as well as for scientists seeking to expand their research expertise. Among these opportunities, NINR provides support for trainees from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds.

NINR fosters collaborations with many other disciplines in areas of mutual interest such as long-term care for older adults, the special needs of women across the lifespan, genetics and genomics, biobehavioral aspects of the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, and the impact of environmental influences on risk factors for chronic illnesses, among many others. NINR also supports interdisciplinary team science initiatives through its involvement with the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program.

The NINR Strategic Plan: An Overview

Released in October 2011, Bringing Science to Life: NINR Strategic Plan, describes NINR’s approach for advancing the "science of health." It seeks to leverage 25 years of nursing science accomplishments to pave the way for future discoveries in scientific areas that have the greatest potential to impact the health of the Nation. Developed with the input of scientists, clinicians, experts in health care and public policy, other stakeholders, and members of the public, the Plan also provides a vision for the next quarter century of nursing science achievements. NINR’s focus on research that supports the science of health, which encompasses the investigation of multiple health determinants—including psychological, physiological, genomic, environmental, familial, societal, and cultural factors—is based on the premise that individuals would benefit from being actively involved in maintaining their own health through the prevention of disease and self- management of illness.

To advance the science of health, NINR  supports research to:

  • Enhance health promotion and disease prevention
  • Improve quality of life by managing symptoms of acute and chronic illness
  • Improve palliative and end-of-life care
  • Enhance innovation in science and practice
  • Develop the next generation of nurse scientists

NINR’s Innovative Questions Initiative:

In fall 2013, NINR launched the Innovative Questions (IQ) Initiative, the next step in the implementation of NINR’s Strategic Plan. IQ is an interactive, collaborative initiative designed to stimulate a dialogue among the scientific community, professional organizations, and the public. NINR is interested in thoughts and ideas that will encourage new thinking and creativity in nursing science, explore unanswered questions, promote results-oriented research, and guide the science over the next 5 to 10 years.

The initiative consists of two components: NINR’s IQ Workshopsand the IQ Website. The IQ Workshop series brings together leading scientists to identify innovative questions that could stimulate novel research in nursing science. On the IQ Website, members of the scientific community and the general public can contribute their own innovative questions.

Important Events in NINR History

November 10, 1985—Public Law 99-158, the Health Research Extension Act of 1985, became law, overriding a presidential veto. Among other provisions, the law authorized the National Center for Nursing Research (NCNR) at NIH.

April 18, 1986—The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary announced the establishment of NCNR at NIH.

April 1986–June 1987—Dr. Dorris Merritt, Special Assistant to the NIH Director, was appointed the Acting Director of NCNR. NCNR’s initial budget was $16 million.

December 3, 1986—The HHS Secretary appointed the first members of the NCNR Advisory Council.

February 17, 1987—The NCNR Advisory Council held its inaugural meeting.

June 1987–June 1994—Dr. Ada Sue Hinshaw was appointed the first Director of NCNR.

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

1992—NINR-funded researcher Dr. David Olds established that visits by home nurses significantly lower mothers' high blood pressure during pregnancy and result in better timing of subsequent pregnancies. Abuse and neglect of children were also reduced.

June 10, 1993—P.L. 103-43, the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, became law. Among other provisions, it elevated NCNR to full status as an NIH Institute.

June 14, 1993—The HHS Secretary signed the Federal Register notice establishing the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR).

July 1994–April 1995—Dr. Suzanne Hurd served as Acting Director of NINR.

1994—NINR-funded researcher Dr. Loretta Sweet Jemmott tested several gender-appropriate, culturally sensitive interventions on hard-to-reach vulnerable populations and significantly reduced sexual risk behaviors for HIV. Her "Be Proud! Be Responsible!" intervention became the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's model curricula

April 3, 1995—Dr. Patricia A. Grady was appointed Director of NINR.

1997—The NIH Director designated NINR as the lead NIH institute to coordinate collaborative research on end-of-life care.

1998—NINR-funded researcher Dr. Joanne Harrell, building on research that showed risk for cardiovascular disease can begin at an early age, demonstrated that a specially designed classroom educational program for elementary school children could significantly lower their cholesterol levels in just eight weeks. NINR-funded researcher Dr. Nancy Bergstrom, in a multi-site study, tested the Braden scale for risk of pressure sores and found its predictive capability accurate. The scale is now widely used in nursing homes and hospitals.

1999—NINR-funded researcher Dr. Mary Naylor demonstrated that transitional care from hospital to home could significantly improve the health of older adult patients and substantially reduce per patient days in hospital, hospital readmissions, and costs to the health care system. NINR-funded researcher Dr. Jon Levine established that gender plays a key role in pain relief, with women obtaining satisfactory relief from kappa-opioids while men receive little benefit.

Summer 2000—NINR held its first Summer Genetics Institute.

2002—NINR funded researcher Dr. Linda Aiken demonstrated that hospital working conditions and adequacy of nurse staffing per patient can affect patients' recovery and that in hospitals where nurses have lower patient workloads, patients have substantially lower mortality rates.

April 2002—NINR launched a free online training, "Developing Nurse Scientists" to acquaint students interested in nursing research with the field.

2003—NINR Director Dr. Patricia A. Grady named co-chair of the Interdisciplinary Research component of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research and co-chair of the NIH Pain Consortium.

2003—NINR-funded researcher Dr. Martha Hill found that interventions conducted at the community level by a multidisciplinary health care team reduced high blood pressure in young inner city African-American males, who are typically underserved by the health care system, illustrating that culturally sensitive, successful interventions can be conducted for vulnerable populations and can help reduce health care disparities.

2004—NINR Director Dr. Grady named co-chair of NIH Public Trust Initiative.

2004—NINR launched a new pilot training project, the Graduate Partnerships Program (GPP) in Biobehavioral Research.

December 2004—NINR co-sponsored the NIH State of the Science conference, Improving End-of-Life Care, bringing together almost 1,000 health care practitioners from around the world.

2005–6—NINR celebrated its 20th anniversary at NIH.

2006—NINR-funded researcher Dr. Bernadette Melnyk demonstrated that her Creating Opportunities for Parent Empowerment (COPE) program, which aims to support the parents of premature infants, resulted in improved knowledge and parenting behaviors, decreased parental stress, and shortened length of NICU stays by about four days, reducing health care costs associated with premature births by about $4,800 per infant. COPE has been adopted by hospitals and insurers throughout the U.S.

2007—NINR-funded researcher Dr. J. Randall Curtis and collaborators reported that an intervention to improve communication between ICU clinicians and family members of dying patients significantly reduced feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in the family members for up to three months after the loss of their loved one.

2008—NINR Director Dr. Grady named co-chair, Science of Behavior Change Roadmap Initiative.

2008—First two NINR Graduate Partnerships Program fellows graduated.

2009—NINR published an award-winning patient information brochure, “Palliative Care: The Relief You Need When You’re Experiencing the Symptoms of Serious Illness.”

2009—NINR-funded researcher Dr. Pamela Mitchell reported that a behavioral intervention called Living Well with Stroke reduced the incidence of depression in stroke survivors, both immediately after treatment for stroke and at a one-year follow up.

2009—Using the unprecedented additional funding made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, NINR supported an additional $36 million in research in fiscal year 2009-2010. Projects supported under ARRA included a new research cooperative for palliative care science and multiple training opportunities to build the scientific workforce. Approximately 73 additional research grants were supported, along with multiple research and training supplements.

2010—NINR intramural researcher Dr. Taura Barr identified a gene panel useful for stroke diagnostics and outcome prediction as well as other neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injury. Her work may lead to the development of bedside tests for assessment of the extent of brain injury and to guide individualized therapeutics. NINR intramural researcher Dr. Wendy Henderson developed a devise for collecting patient-reported outcomes related to pain called the "Gastrointestinal Pain Pointer" (GIPP), enabling a patient to describe the location, intensity, and subjective components of their pain on a graphic interface. These data are then captured electronically for quantification and comparison to later reports of pain.

2010—NINR held the first Methodologies Boot Camp, focusing on pain research.

2010—First NINR history book released: NINR: Bringing Science to Life.

2010-11—NINR celebrated its 25th anniversary at NIH with a series of scientific events.

2011—NINR launched a new annual NINR Director's Lecture series, designed to bring the nation’s top nurse scientists to the NIH campus to share their work and interests with a transdisciplinary audience. Dr. Bernadette Melnyk presented the inaugural lecture on “COPE: Improving Outcomes for Premature Infants and Parents.”

January 2011—NINR established a YouTube channel, “NINR News,” to post videos highlighting its events and trainings.

August 11–12, 2011—NINR convened a national summit on “The Science of Compassion: Future Directions in End-of-Life and Palliative Care,” attended by nearly 1,000 scientists, health care professionals, and public advocates.

October 13, 2011Bringing Science to Life: NINR Strategic Plan released at NINR's 25th Anniversary Concluding Symposium.

November 2011—NINR published Spanish-language public education brochure: Cuidados Paliativos: El alivio que necesita cuando tiene síntomas de una enfermedad grave (Palliative Care: The Relief You Need When You're Experiencing the Symptoms of Serious Illness).

January 2012—Dr. Elaine Larson delivered the 2nd Annual NINR Director's Lecture on “Infection Prevention: An Interdisciplinary Team Approach.”

March 2012—NINR launched the Video Grantsmanship Workshop, designed to help pre- and post-doctoral students and early career nurse scientists learn the basics of grantsmanship, on its YouTube channel and website.

April 2012—NINR-supported researcher Dr. Marilyn Rantz found that, in a trial of an early warning sensor system that alerts nurses to declining health, long-term care residents participating in the intervention demonstrated better functional measures (e.g., hand-grip; gait) than did residents receiving usual care.

October 2012—Dr. Jessica Gill joined NINR as one of the first Lasker Clinical Research Scholars, the premier clinical intramural training program at NIH.

April 2013NINR Twitter account launched.

May 2013—Dr. Mary Woo delivered the 3rd Annual NINR Director's Lecture on “It's All in the Mind: Heart Failure and the Brain.”

November 2013—Dr. Ann Cashion was appointed Scientific Director for the NINR Division of Intramural Research.

November 2013—NINR launched its Innovative Questions Initiative (, the next step in the implementation of NINR’s Strategic Plan.

December 2013Dr. Jessica Gill, a Lasker Clinical Research Scholar and NINR intramural investigator, and Dr. Ida Spruill, an NINR-supported extramural scientist, were selected to receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The PECASE is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

NINR Legislative Chronology

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

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

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

2010—U.S. Senate resolution, S. Res. 642, congratulated NINR on a quarter century of achievement in science and public service. The resolution was introduced by Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and cosponsored by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine).

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Grady has been recognized with several prestigious honors and awards for her leadership and scientific accomplishments, including the first award of the Centennial Achievement Medal from Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Sciences, being named the inaugural Rozella M. Schlotfeld distinguished lecturer at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University, and receiving the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service from the University of Maryland. Dr. Grady was named the Excellence in Nursing Lecturer by the Council on Cardiovascular Nurses of the American Heart Association. In 2005, Dr. Grady received Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa degrees from the Medical University of South Carolina and Thomas Jefferson University, and Columbia University School of Nursing honored her with its prestigious Second Century Award for Excellence in Health Care. In 2008, Dr. Grady received a Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa degree from the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center. View Image.

In 2011, Dr. Grady was named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington by Washingtonian Magazine and received Arizona State University's College of Nursing and Health Innovation’s Discover Award, which honors those who are dedicated to improving the health of the American public and who “pursue big dreams, lead innovative changes, and achieve their goals.” This was followed in 2012 by the University of California-Los Angeles School of Nursing’s Sterling Award, presented in recognition of “superior achievement in science and health” by those who have taken “great strides in promoting and improving health across the nation through scientific research and leadership in health communities.”

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

NINR Directors

Name In Office from To
Doris H. Merritt (Acting) April 18, 1986 June 1987
Ada Sue Hinshaw June 6, 1987 June 30, 1994
Suzanne S. Hurd (Acting) July 1, 1994 April 2, 1995
Patricia A. Grady April 3, 1995 Present

Major Programs

Division of Extramural Science Programs (formerly Division of Extramural Activities)

The Division of Extramural Science Programs consists of the Office of End-of-Life and Palliative Care Research, the Office of Extramural Programs, the Office of Grants Management, and the Office of Review.

The Office of End-of-Life and Palliative Care Research (OEPCR) serves as a central coordinating space to support ongoing NINR research efforts in end-of-life and palliative care (EOL PC) science, including: 1) stimulation of end of life and palliative care research initiatives; 2) creation of opportunities for collaborative activities; and, 3) facilitation of interdisciplinary EOL PC science. A major program priority is to coordinate the development, implementation and evaluation of end-of-life and palliative care research in direct collaboration with NIH Institutes and Centers, federal research agencies and other outside constituencies.

The Office of Extramural Programs (OEP) manages the funding activities of NINR that occur outside of NIH, in research institutions across the country and around the world. A major program priority is the integration of biological and behavioral research. Three foci—promoting health and preventing disease, managing the symptoms and disability of illness, and improving the environments in which care is delivered—cut across NINR's science areas.

The Office of Grants Management (OGM) is the central point of contact for all business-related activities associated with the negotiation, award, and administration of grants and cooperative agreements within NINR.

The Office of Review (OR) provides policy direction and coordination for the planning and execution of initial scientific and technical reviews conducted within NINR. The reviews conducted by the office are considered to be first level reviews, and involve panels of experts established according to scientific disciplines or current research areas for the purpose of evaluating the scientific and technical merit of grant applications.

Research Centers Program

The OEP oversees a nationwide Research Centers program. The NINR Research Centers program is designed to increase research capability and expand the science of investigators working on multiple projects by promoting collaboration between groups and across institutions, through the use of shared resources and expertise. These settings promote the development of skilled new investigators dedicated to interdisciplinary research. The collaborative approach to research typified in Centers has been found to be valuable in producing results that become the evidence base for practice. NINR funded Centers bring together scientists, students, and other colleagues with similar interests to focus on a common area of investigation, such as symptom management in chronic diseases, nursing outcomes, or end-of-life care. They also serve to advance the NINR goals of building research infrastructure, expanding research capacity, and increasing training opportunities. The focus of currently funded centers includes Building the Science of Self-Management, End-of-Life Transition Research, Pain Studies, Evidence-based Practice in the Underserved, Sleep Disturbances, and Promotion of Cardiovascular Health.

The Research Centers represent a continuum of institutional research programs at different stages of development, each with unique needs and potential. They are funded through three grant mechanisms:

  • Exploratory Center (P20) grants target schools of nursing with emerging research programs, helping them to expand their early research efforts, centralize resources, strengthen research capabilities, and increase productivity to generate new research.
  • Core or Center of Excellence (P30) grants, designed for institutions with several years of demonstrated research success, support interdisciplinary collaborative research programs among established investigators in specific areas of basic and/or clinical research of strategic interest to NINR.

Extramural Research Training and Career Development

Through its OEP, NINR offers a range of extramural training awards and opportunities.


The National Research Service Awards (NRSA) enable scientists to be trained to conduct independent nursing research and to collaborate in interdisciplinary research through individual and institutional predoctoral, postdoctoral, and senior fellowships. NINR currently supports F31, F32, F33, and T32 mechanisms of funding for fellowship grants.

Career Development Awards

NINR supports several career development awards funded through the K01, K23, K24, and K99 mechanisms.

For postdoctoral and established investigators, the K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award provides for a period of additional mentored research experience with an expert sponsor as a way to gain expertise in an area new to the candidate or would demonstrably enhance the candidate’s scientific career. NINR also supports research career awards that offer mentored research experiences for trainees from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds. Also funded by the K01 training mechanism, investigators have addressed such issues as serious developmental problems in Mexican migrant infants; culturally appropriate community-level suicide prevention programs for American Indian rural youth; improvement of awareness of prostate cancer screening among African American men; and ways to identify triggers or markers for increased risk for sudden death in Asian heart failure patients.

NINR participates in the NIH Pathway to Independence (PI) Award, which offers another excellent opportunity for highly promising, postdoctoral research scientists. This award uses the combination K99/R00 funding mechanism and is designed to facilitate receipt of an R01 award earlier in an investigator's research career. The PI Award provides up to 5 years of support consisting of 2 phases: 1-2 years of mentored support, followed by up to 3 years of independent support for career transition, contingent on securing an independent research position. Topics NINR has funded range from improving cognitive impairment in older adults with heart failure to discovering biomarkers of pulmonary infection in the critically ill, to understanding access to hospice care. Award recipients will be expected to compete successfully for independent R01 support from NIH during the career transition period.

Other career development awards offered by NINR’s OEP include the Mentored Patient-oriented Research Career Development Award (K23); the Translational Scholar Career Award in Pharmaco-genomics and Personalized Medicine (K23); and the Midcareer Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research (K24).

For students considering a research career, NINR offers a CD-ROM program titled "Discover Nursing Research." This program presents interviews with nurse scientists and their doctoral students as a way to improve understanding of the scope of nursing science and recruit nurses into research careers. Copies are available upon request.

NINR also offers a video-based grantsmanship workshop via its YouTube channel and the NINR website. The workshop’s seven modules are geared to pre- and post-doctoral students and early career nurse scientists.

Division of Intramural Research

NINR maintains a robust intramural program on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, dedicated to conducting basic and clinical research on the interactions among molecular mechanisms underlying a single symptom or cluster of symptoms and environmental influences on individual health outcomes. It encompasses the individual variability inherent in symptoms associated with digestive disorders, cancer-related fatigue, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorders as well as clinical interventions to alleviate these symptoms.

NINR's laboratories leverage the benefits of the highly collaborative research environment of the NIH intramural research community, wherein scientific partnerships can be readily established and the nursing science community can take full advantage of resources, infrastructure, and mentoring opportunities available at NIH. The Division of Intramural Research (DIR) consists of the Office of the Scientific Director and three branches: Tissue Injury, Symptom Management, and Biobehavioral. The DIR also offers several research training opportunities.

Tissue Injury Branch

The Tissue Injury Branch conducts clinical and laboratory-based studies on the mechanisms of tissue injury, including the identification of molecular targets and pathways activated in response to cellular damage, to provide greater understanding of the pathophysiology associated with tissue injury and identify novel targets for therapeutic intervention.

The Tissue Injury Branch currently consists of three units: Brain Injury, Vascular Biology, and Muscle Disease.

The Brain Injury Unit examines the risks for post-concussive syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The purpose of this unit’s research is to design screening methods to approximate psychological and neurological risks following TBI and to design interventions to mitigate risks and treat early symptoms.

The Vascular Biology Unit focuses on dietary factors and nutrients that are associated with the development of cardiovascular disease and symptoms, the role of nutrition interventions, and personalized nutrition based on individual genomic profiles.

The Muscle Disease Unit focuses on the measurement and treatment of symptoms associated with various forms of congenital muscle disease, including Collagen 6 Related Myopathy, LAMA2 Related Muscular Dystrophy, and RYR1 Congenital Myopathy. The measures will then be implemented in interventional trials in an effort to find treatments for patients with congenital muscle disease.

Symptom Management Branch

The Symptom Management Branch is dedicated to improving the understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms of a range of symptoms, their effect on patients, and the biological and behavioral basis for how patients respond to interventions.

The Symptom Management Branch consists of two units: Symptom Biology and Cardiovascular Symptoms.

The Symptom Biology Unit examines the nature and causes of fatigue in association with cancer treatments and pain associated with fibromyalgia.

The Cardiovascular Symptoms Unit focuses on vasculoprotective nutritional interventions that may improve the lipid profile in hyperlipidemia and decrease high blood pressure in hypertension.

Biobehavioral Branch

The Biobehavioral Branch supports research into the interplay of behavioral, biological, and environmental determinants of health and wellness across populations. The Biobehavioral Branch consists of  the Digestive Disorders Unit.

The Digestive Disorders Unit seeks to understand the mechanisms involved in symptom distress related to digestive disorders, specifically the biobehavioral relationships between inflammation and patient symptoms, in order to identify genetic or other biologic/physiologic factors that predict patient-related clinical outcomes.

Intramural Research Training and Career Development

NINR is committed to developing the next generation of nurse scientists and provides research training through several mechanisms. Post-baccalaureate training positions are available that allow BSN-prepared nurses interested in exploring a career in research to spend a year engaged in biomedical investigation in the DIR laboratories. Pre- and postdoctoral fellowship positions, as well as summer internships, are also available.

NINR also offers mentored research support to post-doctoral intramural investigators via the K99 mechanism. Known as the Pathway to Independence Award, it is designed to facilitate receipt of an R01 award earlier in an investigator's research career.

The DIR also supports the Graduate Partnerships Program (GPP). The NINR GPP is a doctoral fellowship training program that coordinates training and funding for PhD students attending a school of nursing. The program combines the academic environment of a university with the breadth and depth of research resources available at NIH. The goal is to encourage and support the training of nursing doctoral students who are motivated to undertake careers in basic or clinical research.

Through the DIR, NINR sponsors the Summer Genetics Institute (SGI), an intensive research training program held at NIH. The SGI provides a foundation in molecular genetics for use in research and clinical practice and features both lecture and hands-on laboratory training. The purpose of the SGI is to increase the research capability among graduate students and faculty, and develop and expand the basis for clinical practice in genetics among clinicians. The program awards eight hours of graduate-level college credit. SGI graduates are making a difference in their communities in many ways. They are successfully building programs of research in genetics related to nursing (e.g., genetic components involved in organ transplantation outcomes, gene-to-gene and gene-environment interactions in childhood asthma); disseminating findings through publications and scientific conference presentations; and integrating genetics content into nursing school curricula across the country.

The NINR Symptom Research Methodologies Series is a one-week intensive research training course at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. Sponsored by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), the course is administered by the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES) as one of the Bio-Trac programs.

The purpose of the series is to increase the research capability of graduate students and faculty. The course features lectures by distinguished guest speakers, classroom discussion, and laboratory training.

NINR co-sponsors nursing students in the Minority Faculty Student Partnership conducted by the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences.  The program is a one-week training program in targeted areas of molecular to third or fourth year science majors along with their mentors from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic or Native American Institutions. 

The NINR DIR also participates in the NIH Lasker Clinical Research Scholar (Lasker Scholar) program. The Lasker Scholar program supports a small number of exceptional clinical researchers in the early stages of their careers to promote their development to fully independent scientists. It combines a period of research experience as a tenure-track Principal Investigator in the NIH IRP with an opportunity for additional years of independent financial support, either within the IRP or at an extramural research institution.

The NINR brochure Research Training Grants and Opportunities (PDF- 573 KB) provides an overview of both the extramural and intramural training programs offered by NINR. NINR also offers a video-based grantsmanship workshop via its YouTube channel and the NINR website. The workshop's seven modules are geared to pre- and post-doctoral students and early career nurse scientists.

Leadership in End-of-Life Research

In recent years, many factors have converged to increase public and professional interest in issues surrounding the end of life.

The 1997 report from the Institute of Medicine, Approaching Death: Improving Care at the End of Life, found widespread dissatisfaction with end-of-life care and many gaps in our scientific knowledge of this phase of life. In response, NINR sponsored a workshop on the symptoms of terminal illness. Later that year, the NIH Director designated NINR as the lead Institute within NIH for end-of-life research. NINR studies on the management of pain and other symptoms, family decision-making, caregiving, advance planning, and quality of care for the elderly and critically ill provided an important base of knowledge on which to build. NINR has sponsored several community events to gather input on concerns related to end-of-life issues.

In December 2004, NINR co-sponsored the NIH State of the Science conference, Improving End-of-Life Care, bringing together almost 1,000 health care practitioners from around the world. This conference served to evaluate the current state of the science in end-of-life care and to determine future directions for research. It also highlighted the interactions among patients, caregivers, and the health system, and their effects on outcomes. The consensus statement from this conference is available here.

In 2009, NINR released a patient information brochure entitled: "Palliative Care: The Relief You Need When You're Experiencing the Symptoms of Serious Illness."(PDF-15.5 MB) In 2011, it released the Spanish version: Cuidados Paliativos: El alivio que necesita cuando tiene síntomas de una enfermedad grave. Both brochures are copyright free and may be downloaded and reproduced without charge from NINR's Publications webpage. To order print copies or printer files to produce larger quantities, please email or call 301-496-0207.

In 2011, NINR convened a three-day, trans-NIH national summit on "The Science of Compassion: Future Directions in End-of-Life and Palliative Care. " This summit was intended to examine the state of research and clinical practice in end-of-life and palliative care (EOL PC). With speakers from multiple disciplines and almost 1,000 registrants, it also provided an opportunity for scientists, health care professionals, and public advocates to gather together, talk, and network. The summit commenced with the NIH Institute-led public forum "The Ethics of Science at the End of Life: A Town Hall Discussion." An executive summary and videocast of summit highlights are available on NINR's website at

NINR participates as a member of the NIH End of Life and Palliative Care Special Interest Group (EOL PC SIG). Membership is open to anyone with a shared interest in EOL PC science, including researchers across NIH ICs, academia, fellows/trainees, clinicians, students, and interested professionals and non-scientists. The NIH EOL PC SIG serves as an important source for ideas and inter-institute discussions of ongoing activities in end-of-life and palliative care research, and provides a forum to foster career development, investigator training, and opportunities to collaborate in new initiatives.

Supported by a trans-NIH organizing committee from NCI, NINR, NHLBI, NCCAM, NIA, and the NIH Clinical Center, the NIH EOL PC SIG meets four times a year on the NIH campus. Lectures and discussions reflect emerging scientific issues such as challenging research methodologies, new technologies, interventions, treatments, resources, and training. The group also has a listserv that exchanges EOL PC research information, grant opportunities, news items, and educational events.

For more information or to subscribe to the listserv, please visit the NIH EOL PC SIG website at:

NINR and Trans-NIH Initiatives

NINR plays an active role in several trans-NIH initiatives, including the:

  • NIH Pain Consortium
  • NIH Neuroscience Blueprint
  • NIH Science of Behavior Change Roadmap initiative
  • NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet)
  • NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory Work Group

NINR is a key member of the NIH Pain Consortium, for which Dr. Grady serves on the Executive Committee. The consortium promotes collaboration among the many NIH Institutes and Centers that conduct or fund pain research. NINR is also a member of the NIH Neuroscience Blueprint, which is designed to develop resources (i.e., people, tools, methods, knowledge bases) for the advancement of research in neuroscience. NINR involvement in these areas opens further avenues of research to NINR-supported investigators.

NINR is a co-sponsor of the Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) Roadmap initiative, and Dr. Grady serves as an SOBC Roadmap Development co-chair. Advancing the science of behavior change has been identified as a top priority for NIH-wide research efforts, and this initiative is focused on developing new and innovative approaches to enhance health-related behavior change.

In 2009, NIH launched the Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet), a trans-NIH initiative to expand the agency’s funding of basic behavioral and social sciences research (b-BSSR). Basic-BSSR studies mechanisms and processes that influence behavior at the individual, group, community and population level. Research results lead to new approaches for reducing risky behaviors and improving the adoption of healthy practices. All NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) share the mission of supporting b-BSSR. Representatives for NINR are involved in the OppNet Steering Committee, the Executive and Coordinating Committees, and other working groups and initiatives. OppNet has developed a plan for focused multi-year programs across ICs to advance priority b-BSSR topics, such as the impact of culture on health and well-being and multisensory processing.

NINR is a key member of the Collaboratory whose mission is to promote trans-NIH engagement in pragmatic clinical trials.  The Collaboratory’s current initiative is to stimulate pragmatic clinical trials for multiple chronic conditions. 

For more information about NINR, nursing science, and research training opportunities, please visit the NINR website at:

This page last reviewed on April 2, 2014

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