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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, October 23, 2007

NIH Media Branch

The NIH Public Trust Initiative Launches the "Partners in Research" Program

The Public Trust Initiative (PTI), an initiative of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announces the release of a new Request for Applications (RFA) for the Partners in Research program. The purpose of this program is to support studies of innovative programs designed to improve public understanding of health care research and promote collaboration between scientists and community organizations. In turn, these studies should help in the development of strategies to increase the public awareness and trust in both the role of NIH and the importance of new directions of research for advancing the public health.

The NIH Partners in Research program is intended to engage the energy of a diverse group of scientists, community leaders, members of the public, and patient advocacy groups. It will seek to develop partnerships between scientific or research institutions and community organizations, and evaluate a variety of approaches in a range of target audiences or communities. The goals of the program are to:

  • identify and implement new ways to increase science literacy;
  • communicate the research needs and interests of communities; and
  • encourage understanding of biomedical and behavioral research by partnering with community-sanctioned organizations, such as voluntary and professional organizations, health groups, faith-based groups, and housing organizations.

"Recent advances in health care research have enhanced our capability to promote health by focusing on disease prevention and personalized medicine," according to NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni. "This has allowed medicine and health care research to shift from a curative to a more preemptive role, an important goal to improve public health. However, realization of this goal requires a fuller public understanding of research and greater engagement of communities. The Partners in Research program is one step in the NIH effort to build public trust and to move toward this goal."

"This program is designed to address the practical questions surrounding the development of true partnerships between researchers and the public, said Dr. Patricia A. Grady, Director of the National Institute of Nursing Research and a co-chair of the PTI. "Though other activities in this arena emphasize partnerships in clinical research, this program extends the challenge to all types of research supported by the NIH, including the basic biological, medical, and behavioral research that informs clinical questions, clinical research, and, ultimately, clinical practice."

Added Dr. Yvonne Maddox, Deputy Director of the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development and co-chair of the PTI, "The public has participated in NIH-supported studies at medical centers around the country for many years, and their participation has led to major medical advances that benefit all people. And now through this Public Trust Initiative, community organizations will become full partners with researchers, participating in research that will address the health needs of their communities. These organizations will also play a key role in communicating health-related findings back to their communities."

Along with the immediate goals listed above, the long-term objectives of this program are to: (1) raise the level of public awareness and understanding of biomedical and behavioral research related to health, the role of the NIH, the role the public can play in the research enterprise, and the value of public funding; (2) increase scientists' awareness of the importance of public engagement; and (3) develop a range of techniques for researchers and communities to implement to facilitate the participation of lay communities in the health research endeavor.

"The research that NIH conducts on our campus and supports at institutions across the nation represents a large and significant investment of the American taxpayer," said Dr. Zerhouni. "At NIH, we take this responsibility to heart. Helping people to understand the mission of NIH and how research plays a role in improving their everyday lives will advance the public health across all walks of life."

The NIH Partners in Research RFA is available on the NIH Guide website at:

The mission of NIH's Public Trust Initiative is to enable the public to understand and have full confidence in the research that NIH conducts and supports nationally and internationally (see http://publictrust.nih.gov).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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