National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)


The mission of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) is to improve health by leading the development and accelerating the application of biomedical technologies. The Institute is committed to integrating the physical and engineering sciences with the life sciences to advance basic research and medical care. This is achieved through: research and development of new biomedical imaging and bioengineering techniques and devices to fundamentally improve the detection, treatment, and prevention of disease; enhancing existing imaging and bioengineering modalities; supporting related research in the physical and mathematical sciences; encouraging research and development in multidisciplinary areas; supporting studies to assess the effectiveness and outcomes of new biologics, materials, processes, devices, and procedures; developing technologies for early disease detection and assessment of health status; and developing advanced imaging and engineering techniques for conducting biomedical research at multiple scales.

Important Events in NIBIB History

December 29, 2000—The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering Establishment Act (H.R. 1795) is signed into law by President William Jefferson Clinton.

2001—The NIBIB Establishment Plan is approved by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Mr. Tommy G. Thompson.

Dr. Donna J. Dean is named as Acting Director of NIBIB.

The National Advisory Council for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering is established.

NIBIB assumes administration of the NIH's Bioengineering Consortium (BECON).

The NIBIB website is launched.

2002—A working group is established to review and recommend the transfer of grants to NIBIB.

NIBIB receives its first budget appropriation (FY 2002) in the amount of $112 million.

NIBIB announces its first 2 Requests for Applications.

The NIBIB announces the award of its first research grants.

Dr. Roderic Pettigrew, professor of radiology, medicine (cardiology), and bioengineering, and director of the Emory Center for MR Research, Emory University School of Medicine, assumes the position of Director of NIBIB.

Dr. Donna Dean becomes the first Deputy Director of NIBIB.

2003—The National Advisory Council for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering meets for the first time in Bethesda, Maryland.

A new NIBIB organization is announced by Dr. Roderic Pettigrew.

The NIBIB Special Emphasis Panel is established.

Dr. Belinda Seto is named the Deputy Director of NIBIB.

2004—NIBIB initiates its Strategic Planning process.

NIBIB and the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, FDA, sign an interagency agreement establishing the joint Laboratory for the Assessment of Medical Imaging Systems.

NIBIB hosts a Blue Ribbon Panel on Intramural Research to provide recommendations on the planning and development of an intramural research program.

NIBIB and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announce a partnership to support the HHMI/NIBIB Interfaces Initiative for Interdisciplinary Graduate Research Training.

The Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Radiochemistry Group joins the Institute as the NIBIB Intramural Research Program.

NIBIB and the National Science Foundation sponsor a conference on "Research at the Interface of the Life and Physical Sciences: Bridging the Sciences."

2005—NIBIB issues a draft Strategic Plan and invites public comment.

NIBIB holds its first Regional Grantsmanship Seminar in Troy, New York. The seminars are intended to provide an overview of NIBIB funding opportunities and NIH application, review, and grant-making processes and policies.

NIBIB launches re-designed website.

2006—NIBIB awards its first Quantum Grant to Baylor College of Medicine.

NIBIB names Dr. Richard Leapman as Scientific Director of the Intramural Sciences Program.

NIBIB publishes its first strategic plan, Strategic Plan I, following a year-long process of input from the public, staff, and groups of outside experts. This plan is designed to (1) define key goals, (2) optimize the use of resources, and (3) install tools and processes for smart management in order to help NIBIB achieve its mission and realize its vision.

NIBIB website wins Award of Distinction from The Communicator Awards.

2007—NIBIB celebrates its 5-year anniversary with a commemorative scientific symposium on technological innovation in medicine entitled, "Changing the World's Healthcare through Biomedical Technologies." View Image.

NIBIB presents the first NIBIB Landmark Achievement Award to Dr. Paul Lauterbur (posthumously), 2003 Nobel Laureate, Physiology or Medicine, for his vision and fundamental discoveries in the development of magnetic resonance imaging. View Image.

The Division of Bioengineering and Physical Science is transferred from the NIH Office of Research Services to the NIBIB intramural research program.

NIBIB and the Department of Biotechnology of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Republic of India, sign a bilateral agreement to develop low-cost healthcare technologies aimed at the medically underserved. View Image.

2008—NIBIB enters into a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense and the Office of Naval Research to support and manage the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM). Over the next 5 years, AFIRM will provide $8.5 million per year for research in the field of regenerative medicine.

NIBIB holds the first Quantum Grantees' meeting.

NIBIB's Point-of-Care Technologies Network holds a first-year meeting to discuss progress and future plans.

NIBIB and the Department of Biotechnology of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Republic of India, hold a 2-day workshop entitled "Low-Cost Diagnostic and Therapeutic Medical Technologies," in Hyderabad, India, aimed at promoting U.S./Indian scientific collaborations in the development of low-cost diagnostics and therapeutics.

2009—NIBIB hosts the first in a series of forums on Technology Translation. The first forum focused on the role of public-private partnerships in the development and translation of in-vitro diagnostic technologies.

NIBIB provides support for the RSNA RadLex Ontology Project, which will provide a uniform source of terms and concepts for indexing and retrieving imaging information sources.

The Neuroimaging Tools and Resources Clearinghouse (NITRC) wins the 2009 Excellence in Government Award from the American Council for Technology. NITRC is supported by the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research and managed by NIBIB. View Image.

NIBIB awards ten grants in Phase II of the NIBIB-HHMI Interfaces Initiative for Interdisciplinary Graduate Research Training.

2010—NIBIB announced a new training initiative in Team-Based Design in Biomedical Engineering Education.

NIBIB established a collaboration with Wellcome Trust to solve key medical engineering challenges facing healthcare.

NIBIB received $3M from DHHS to fund imaging-based comparative effectiveness research to improve clinical decision-making.

2011—In a first in human study a man with a paralyzing spinal cord injury is able to stand and move muscles after intensive physical therapy and electrical stimulation to the spine. This breakthrough research is supported by an NIBIB Bioengineering Research Partnership grant at University of California Los Angeles. Watch the video

With NIBIB  contract support, the RSNA Image Share Network enrolled the first patients to test a new system that allows patients to have complete access to their imaging reports and share them with physicians anywhere in the world.

NIBIB and the Office of National Coordinator held a workshop on Images, Electronic Health Records and Meaningful Use.

NIBIB co-organized a Summit on Management of Radiation Dose in Computerized Tomography: Toward the Sub-mSv Exam.

2012—NIBIB marks its Tenth Anniversary with A Decade of Innovation for Health — a science symposium and technology showcase featuring patient testimonials, video interviews with investigators, and presentations by premier leaders in academia and government.

NIBIB announced the winners of its first DEBUT challenge, a biomedical engineering design competition for teams of undergraduate students. Watch the video. 

NIBIB Intramural Research lab wins video award and recognition from The Scientist magazine for advances in light microscopy that allows the mapping of cell migration during embryogenesis and capture dynamic processes at the cellular level. Watch the video

NIBIB publishes its second Strategic Plan.

2013—NIBIB establishes a partnership with Mexico to develop technologies to treat complications of diabetes.

With NIBIB grant support, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital developed the i-Chip, a device for isolating circulating tumor cells from patients’ blood in a way that leaves them completely intact for further analysis.

NIBIB issued a funding opportunity announcement, "Blood Pressure Measurement Technologies for Low-Resource Settings in the US and India" as part of its joint effort with the Department of Science and Technology in India, which invites researchers to propose new approaches to the measurement of blood pressure that are low-cost, unobtrusive or passive  and which can provide frequent data recording and reporting to healthcare workers as well as the patients themselves.

Researchers in NIBIB’s Intramural Program developed two new microscopes, both the first of their kind. The first captures small, fast moving organisms at an unprecedented rate and the second displays large cell samples in three dimensions while decreasing the amount of harmful light exposure to the cells. Both microscopes surpass in clarity any other currently on the market. Watch the video. 

2014—Building on first in human study findings in 2011 (see above) and subsequent research, NIBIB launches the Consortium on Addressing Paralysis through Spinal Stimulation Technologies. An initial workshop with representatives of NIH, FDA, industry, and researchers was held in November.

NIBIB established a collaboration with research teams in the U.S., Ireland, and Northern Ireland to tackle the lack of an accurate and reliable test for prostate cancer.

NIBIB reissued a call for Quantum grants to make  a profound (quantum) impact on the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a major disease or national public health problem through the development and implementation of biomedical technologies.

NIBIB established a working group of the Advisory Council to examine how to most efficiently use our research dollars.

2015—NIBIB-funded researchers used non-invasive transcutaneous spinal stimulation (electrodes placed on the skin of the lower back) to enable five men with complete motor paralysis to voluntarily generate step-like movements. Read more here.

NIBIB-funded researchers developed a new technology called chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) MRI. The technique uses natural agents in the body such as amino acids, proteins and sugars as MRI contrast agents in place of currently used contrast agents that can be toxic for certain patients. The technique was used to image early heart damage and previously undetectable epileptic seizure sites in the brain.

An NIBIB grantee developed an ultrafast camera that can acquire images at 100 billion frames per second, a speed capable of observing previously unobservable biological phenomena, such as the interaction of proteins within cells. When coupled to a microscope, the ultrafast camera will allow researchers to visualize processes such as energy metabolism occurring within a cell’s mitochondria, or the way light passes through tissue, an important consideration for therapies that use lasers to destroy or repair diseased tissue. Read more here.

NIBIB administered NIH Neuroimaging Informatics Tools and Resources Clearinghouse (NITRC) receives one of seven HHS Innovates Awards from the HHS IDEA Lab.

NIBIB launches Want to Be a Bioengineer? game app. The game introduces students to real-life examples of how bioengineers are improving people’s lives, from helping paralyzed individuals stand, to re-growing fingertips, to finding new ways to see inside the body. The game was made available for free to download to phone or tablet from the iTunes App store and is also available to play from NIBIB’s website.

NIBIB Director Roderic Pettigrew receives first gold medal from Academy of Radiology Research (ARR) for his extraordinary contributions in advancing radiology research. ARR is an alliance of 28 professional imaging societies, which works nationwide to enhance patient care through advances in biomedical imaging.

NIBIB’s Director, Dr. Roderic I. Pettigrew is named co-chair of the Interagency Working Group on Medical Imaging (IWGMI).  The IWGMI is a subcommittee under the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and its charter is to craft a strategy to encompass opportunities and a vision for clinical and research use of medical-imaging technologies. 

2016—Dr. Jill Heemskerk is named the Deputy Director of NIBIB.

NIBIB’s Director, Dr. Roderic I. Pettigrew is appointed liaison to represent NIH in the NIH-NASA Partnership which provides a framework for cooperation between NIH and NASA to facilitate space related research and integrate results into improved understanding of human physiology and human health.

NIBIB Quantum grantee tests efficacy and appeal of flu vaccine patch. Following receipt of FDA investigational new drug status, Dr. Mark Prausnitz performed a phase 1 clinical trial of the microneedle technology, which included 100 adult participants

NIBIB Posts Active NIH-funded Point-of-Care Technology Projects. The database uses the NIH RePORTER platform to quickly explore point-of-care technologies by Projects, Publications, Patents, Clinical Studies, Maps, News and more.  This report on technologies that bring care to the patient rather than take the patient to care showcases the database of point-of-care technology projects with active NIH-funding for use by patients and researchers in compliance with the President’s Open Government Directive.

NIBIB-funded team wins gold medal at first Cyborg Olympics in Zurich on October 8. Researchers used high-density nerve-cuff electrode technology to enable cyclists to generate pedal power and motion. The Olympics-style Cybathlon showcased the use of advanced assistive devices. Team Cleveland, which included researchers from Case Western Reserve University and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center were the only team to use implanted electrode technology. Read more here.

NIBIB introduces Trailblazer R21 Awards for New and Early Stage Investigators. Eligible projects included exploratory, developmental. Proof of concept, or high risk-high impact and technology design directed, discovery-driven, or hypothesis-driven with minimal or no preliminary data. The award mechanism was created based on recommendations from the NIBIB Advisory Council Working Group charged with examining the most efficient use of NIBIB research dollars. Read more here.

The Interagency Working Group on Medical Imaging co-chaired by NIBIB’s Director, Dr. Roderic I. Pettigrew issues a roadmap for medical imaging research and development. Read more here.

2017—Dr. Roderic Pettigrew retires from government service in November after serving as NIBIB Director for 15 years.

Dr. Jill Heemskerk is named the Acting Director of NIBIB.

2018—Dr. Bruce Tromberg is selected as NIBIB Director in September.

2019—Dr. Bruce Tromberg is sworn in as NIBIB Director in January.

2020—As the global coronavirus pandemic emerged, NIBIB pivoted priorities to respond. Major highlights are listed below. Additional information and materials including videos and news items can be found on the COVID-19 and RADx program pages.

March 27 - Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act becomes law.  The legislation appropriated $60 million to NIBIB to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally. In response, NIBIB issues three Notices of Special Interest and awards grants that are creating, adapting, and applying technologies that address critical unmet needs.

NIBIB also awarded a contract to launch the Medical Imaging and Data Resource Center (MIDRC), an ambitious effort that harnesses the powers of artificial intelligence, and medical imaging to fight COVID-19. The multi-institutional collaboration is creating new tools that physicians can use for early detection and personalized therapies for COVID-19 patients.  Led by NIBIB, collaborative partners are the University of Chicago, American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America, and the American Association of Physicists in Medicine. 

NIBIB also awarded a contract to CareEvolution, LLC for SAFER-COVID, a digital health solution that integrates self-reported symptoms, data from consumer wearable devices, electronic health record and claims data, and COVID-19 test results to indicate whether users are ready to return to work and normal activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The app was piloted and later implemented at the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD.

April 24 – The Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act becomes law.  The legislation appropriated $500 million to NIBIB to accelerate research, development, and implementation of point of care and other rapid testing related to coronavirus. 

April 29 – In response to the $500 million in supplemental funding, NIBIB launched the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx℠) Tech program, one of four programs under the NIH RADx Initiative. RADx Tech leverages NIBIB's existing Point-of-Care Technologies Research Network (POCTRN) to accelerate the development, validation, and commercialization of innovative POC and home-based SARS-CoV-2 tests, as well as improvements to existing clinical laboratory methods. RADx? Tech supports the full range of product development including technology validation, clinical translation, commercialization, and product distribution using a milestone-driven phased innovation funnel. 

As of November, 22 projects are in Phase 2 of the RADx technology development pipeline. Additional information about funded projects can be found on the NIBIB dashboard

2021—March 31 – NIH and CDC launch a community health intervention called Say Yes COVID Test. This effort provides free, at-home tests to targeted communities to determine if frequent self-testing helps reduce transmission of the virus. The initiative started with two sites and has since expanded to others throughout the country.

April 29 – RADx initiative is one year old. In the first year, 290 million home, point-of-care, lab tests, and tests products were produced.

June 7 to 28 – RADx Tech II solicitation accepts applications for diagnostic tests to meet specific unmet needs such as point-of-care tests that can detect SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory pathogens, less costly, rapid home tests with analytical performance comparable to lab tests, and home and point-of-care tests that can be used with pooled samples, among others.

September – Dr. Peter Schuck, Senior Investigator in NIBIB’s intramural research program, Laboratory of Dynamics of Macromolecular Assembly receives tenure.

October – Dr. Carlo Pierpaoli, Senior Investigator in NIBIB’s intramural research program, Laboratory on Quantitative Medical Imaging receives tenure.

October 27 – Announcement of the Independent Test Assessment Program to accelerate regulatory review and availability of high-quality, accurate, and reliable over-the-counter tests to the public.

2022—January 30 - The Instrumentation, Development, and Engineering Application Solutions (IDEAS) lab joins the NIBIB Intramural Research Program.  This lab was previously known as the Signal Processing and Instrumentation Section (SPIS) and was part of the NIH Center for Information Technology. 

2023—January - Establishment of a Scientific Diversity Officer post in the NIBIB Office of the Director. Albert Avila, Ph.D. is selected for this post.

January 15 - Manu O. Platt, Ph.D., joined NIBIB as Director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering Technology Acceleration (BETA Center) and Associate Director for Scientific Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

January 15 - NIBIB established the Center for Biomedical Engineering Technology Acceleration (BETA Center), a new intramural research program to solve a range of medicine’s most pressing problems. The BETA Center serves the wider NIH intramural research program as a biotechnology resource and catalyst for NIH research discoveries.The center will incorporate a focused engineering approach to accelerate the development, validation and dissemination of cutting-edge technologies. Areas of emphasis will include biomedical imaging, biosensing, engineered and synthetic biology, nanomaterials and biomaterials, artificial intelligence, modeling, computation and informatics. A unique feature of the center will be its ability to rapidly assemble expert teams for purpose-driven technology development to address urgent national and global health needs.

Biographical Sketch of NIBIB Director Bruce J. Tromberg, Ph.D.

Dr. Tromberg is the Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where he oversees a portfolio of research programs focused on developing, translating, and commercializing engineering, physical science, and computational technologies in biology and medicine.  In addition, he leads NIBIB’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx Tech) program, a $1.7 billion initiative to increase SARS-COV-2 testing capacity and performance. His laboratory, the Section on Biomedical Optics (SBO) in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), develops portable, bedside, non-contact, and wearable technologies for quantitative sensing and imaging of tissue composition and metabolism.

Prior to joining NIH in January 2019, he was a professor of biomedical engineering and surgery at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).  During this time he served as director of the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic (BLIMC) (2003-2018) and the Laser Microbeam and Medical Program (LAMMP), an NIH National Biomedical Technology Center at the BLIMC (1997-2018).

Dr. Tromberg specializes in the development of optics and photonics technologies for biomedical imaging and therapy. He has co-authored more than 450 publications and holds 25 patents in new technology development as well as bench-to-bedside clinical translation, validation, and commercialization of devices.  He has trained more than 80 students and fellows, is co-founder of the biophotonics company, Modulim, Inc, and has served on numerous advisory boards in academia, industry, government, and private foundations.

Dr. Tromberg received his undergraduate training in chemistry from Vanderbilt University (1979) and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from the University of Tennessee (1988) where he was a U.S. Department of Energy/Oak Ridge Associated Universities Fellow at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He was a Hewitt Foundation Photomedicine Fellow at the BLIMC and joined the UC Irvine faculty in 1990. 

Recent honors and awards include election to the 2022 class of National Academy of Medicine.  Other recognition includes the R&D 100 award, the Michael S. Feld Biophotonics Award from The Optical Society (OSA), the Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award from the International Society of Optical Engineering (SPIE), the Horace Furumoto Innovator Award from the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS), and is a Fellow of the OSA, SPIE, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineers (AIMBE), and the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

NIBIB Directors

Name In Office from To
Donna J. Dean (Acting) April 26, 2001 September 22, 2002
Roderic I. Pettigrew September 23, 2002 2017
Bruce J. Tromberg January 2019 Present

NIBIB Programs

Extramural Research

The NIBIB extramural research program brings together the research communities of biomedical imaging, bioengineering, the physical sciences, and the life sciences to advance human health by improving quality of life and reducing the burden of disease. The extramural research program is organized into four divisions:

The Institute supports basic research and research training through investigator-initiated grants, contracts, program project and center grants, and career development and training awards.

Intramural Research

The NIBIB Intramural Research Program plays a key role in advancing the Institute's mission. Specifically, the program advances knowledge in imaging and bioengineering research using a combination of basic, translational, and clinical science. The intramural research program has also developed several unique training opportunities in these and related fields.

The Intramural Research Program has expertise that spans technologies ranging in scale from near-atomic resolution to intact organisms. Current research areas include: molecular imaging probe development; nano theranostics; cardiovascular imaging; high resolution optical imaging; biophotonics; supramolecular structure and function; dynamics of macromolecular assembly; complex biological systems; immunochemical nanoscale analysis and diagnostics; pharmacokinetics and drug delivery; and non-invasive optical imaging.

NIBIB's Intramural Research Program offers training opportunities at several educational levels:

This page last reviewed on February 29, 2024