January 1998

Fact Sheet on the National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the world's foremost biomedical research centers, is a Government agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is comprised of 24 separate Institutes, Centers, and Divisions.
NIH seeks to uncover new knowledge that will lead to better health for everyone. NIH works toward this goal by conducting research in its own laboratories; supporting the research of non-Federal scientists in universities, medical schools, hospitals, and research institutions; helping to train researchers; and fostering communication of biomedical information to various groups including physicians, patients and the general public.
NIH invests more than 81 percent of its dollars through grants and contracts to support research and research training in more than 1,700 institutions, including every major university and medical school throughout the United States and abroad. About 35,000 scientists--who are the project directors--receive NIH funding.
About 11 percent of NIH's budget funds more than 2,000 projects conducted in the agency's own laboratories, most of which are located in Bethesda, Maryland; other sites include North Carolina, Montana and Arizona.
Ninety-four scientists who received NIH support have won Nobel Prizes for achievements as diverse as deciphering the genetic code and learning what causes hepatitis. Five of these Nobelists were NIH's own scientists.
NIH research played a major role in making possible many biomedical advances including:

    appleDeaths from coronary heart disease dropped by 58 percent between 1963 and 1994; deaths from stroke decreased by 65 percent during the same time period;

    appleImproved ways to detect and treat cancers increased the relative 5-year survival rate for people with cancer to 52 percent. At present, the survival gain over the rate in the 1960s represents more than 80,000 additional cancer survivors each year;

    appleThe extent of paralysis from spinal cord injury can be significantly reduced by rapid treatment with high doses of a steroid;

    appleNew or improved vaccines protect against infectious diseases that once killed and disabled millions of children and adults.

Today, NIH research focuses on a variety of diseases and health concerns including mental disorders, infectious diseases, and chronic illnesses.

To contact NIH, call 301-496-4000. On the World Wide Web, visit NIH's home page at <http://www.nih.gov/>


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