National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

Originally National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness. Name changed 1968 to National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke; March 1975 to National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke; and October 1988 to present name.


Created by the U.S. Congress in 1950, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) has occupied a central position in the world of neuroscience for nearly 75 years.

The mission of NINDS is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease for all people.

To accomplish this goal, the institute supports and performs basic, translational, and clinical research on the brain and nervous system; fosters the training and career development of investigators in the basic and clinical neurosciences; seeks better understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of neurological disorders; and disseminates scientific discoveries to the public, health professionals, researchers, and policymakers.

The institute's extramural program supports thousands of research projects at institutions across the country. Institutional training grants and individual fellowships support hundreds of scientists in training and provide career awards that offer a range of research experience and support for faculty members at various levels. Scientists in the institute's laboratories and clinics in Bethesda, Maryland, conduct research in the major areas of neuroscience and on many neurological disorders. NINDS staff researchers also collaborate with scientists and professionals across NIH.

This is a time of accelerating progress and increasing hope in research related to neurological disorders and stroke. Advances in understanding the nervous system are beginning to pay off in the form of treatments for previously untreatable disorders and conditions such as spinal cord injury, acute stroke, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and Parkinson's disease, to name a few.

Important Events in NINDS History

1950—On August 15 President Harry S. Truman signed Public Law 81-692, establishing the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness (NINDB).

1951—NINDB received its first budget of $1,232,253.

1953—The NINDB budget became a line item in the NIH budget.

1953-54—An intramural program of clinical investigation was initiated, including medical neurology, surgical neurology, and electroencephalography. Training programs in neurology and ophthalmology were initiated.

1955—Basic science training grants were initiated.

1956—The intramural clinical investigations program was expanded to include work in ophthalmology.

1957—Training programs in otolaryngology and pediatric neurology began.

Field investigations involving collaborative and cooperative clinical studies began and the initial phase of the Collaborative Perinatal Project was started.

1960—The joint intramural basic research program of NINDB and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) was divided and organized into 2 basic research laboratory programs.

1961—First program projects and clinical research centers in stroke and communicative disorders were supported.

1962—Funds were appropriated for professional and technical information assistance. Training grants in neurosurgery and neuroradiology were initiated.

1963—Developmental graduate training grants were initiated.

1965—A head injury research program was established.

1966—The stroke research program was expanded; additional grants for clinical research centers were awarded. An antiepileptic drug testing program began.

1967—Vision outpatient research centers were established. A program of research in neural control mechanisms and prostheses was initiated.

1968—The Institute was renamed the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke. The NINDS blindness program became the nucleus of the National Eye Institute.

1969—Research Building 36—dedicated by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) Secretary Robert H. Finch—was occupied by NINDS and NIMH research laboratories.

1971—Programs in applied neurological research (epilepsy, head injury), infectious diseases, and biometry were added to the Collaborative and Field Research Division.

1973—Two new communicative disorders programs began with the establishment of an intramural Laboratory of Neuro-Otolaryngology and a section on communicative disorders in the Collaborative and Field Research Division.

1974—Laboratories for neuroimmunology and neuropharmacology were established.

1975—NINDS was renamed the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke (NINCDS).

The Institute reorganized into 6 units for intramural research, fundamental neurosciences, communicative disorders, neurological disorders, stroke and trauma, and extramural activities.

1976—Dr. D. Carleton Gajdusek, chief, Laboratory of Central Nervous System Studies, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for work on atypical slow viruses.

1979—A neuroepidemiology section and a section of neurotoxicology were established within the Intramural Research Program. NINCDS substantially expanded extramural support of research studies using positron emission tomography.

1982—The Institute's Neurological Disorders Program was replaced by 2 new program units: convulsive, developmental, and neuromuscular disorders and demyelinating, atrophic, and dementing disorders.

1984—NINCDS established the Senator Jacob Javits Neuroscience Awards, which provide research grant support for up to 7 years in the basic and clinical neurosciences and communicative sciences.

A Laboratory of Neurobiology and a Laboratory of Experimental Neuropathology were established within the Intramural Research Program.

1986—A Laboratory of Neural Regeneration and Implantation was established within the Intramural Research Program.

1987—NINCDS programs were renamed divisions, reflecting major areas of research interest: communicative and neurosensory disorders; convulsive, developmental, and neuromuscular disorders; demyelinating, atrophic, and dementing disorders; fundamental neurosciences; stroke and trauma; extramural activities; and intramural research.

A Clinical Neuroscience Branch was established within the Division of Intramural Research.

1988—The communicative disorders program became the nucleus of the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. NINCDS was renamed the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

1989—On July 25 President George H.W. Bush signed P.L. 101-58, declaring the 1990s the "Decade of the Brain."

1990—A Stroke Branch was established within the Division of Intramural Research.

1998—NINDS formed 7 planning panels comprising neuroscience leaders. Panel members outlined opportunities for research investment.

1999—NINDS published Neuroscience at the New Millennium: Priorities and Plans for the NINDS, Fiscal Years 2000-2001.

2000—The Parkinson's Disease Research Agenda was developed.

2001—NINDS celebrated its 50th anniversary with a 2-day scientific symposium, "Celebrating 50 Years of Brain Research: New Discoveries, New Hope."

The Stroke Progress Review Group was created.

The Research Agenda for Epilepsy was developed.

2002—The Report of the Stroke Progress Review Group was published.

2004—The new National Neuroscience Research Center opened.

NINDS and NIMH develop a concept to fund collaborative neuroscience research projects, leading to the formation of the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research, or NIH Blueprint. By pooling resources and expertise, NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices (ICOs) that support research on the nervous system confront challenges in neuroscience too large for any single ICO.

2007—NINDS launched a new strategic planning process, in which it convened external panels on basic, translational, and clinical research and on neurological diseases.

2008—The NINDS Division of Extramural Research created an Office of Translational Research and an Office of Clinical Research, each led by an Associate Director.

2009-10—As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, NIH received $10.4 billion to stimulate biomedical research over a 2-year period. NINDS’s share ($400 million) was used to fund existing and peer-reviewed projects, and to support trans-NIH programs that solicited innovative ideas and research projects.

2010—The new NINDS Strategic Plan: "Priorities and Plans for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke" was released.

The NIH Blueprint Human Connectome Project (HCP), an ambitious effort to map all the connections within the human brain, began with two major research consortia which took complementary approaches to deciphering the brain’s complex wiring diagram. Over the years, HCP expanded with the Lifespan Connectome, Disease Connectome, and Connectome Coordination Facility projects. Additionally, the NIH Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network (BPN) program was initiated to enable neuroscientists in academia and biotechnology companies to develop new treatments for nervous system disorders – the program has expanded to include small molecule and biotherapeutic drug discovery and development.

2011—The NINDS Division of Extramural Research created an Office of Training, Career Development and Workforce Diversity and an Office of Special Programs in Diversity.

2012—A Pain Health Science Policy Advisor position was established within the NINDS Office of the Director to serve as the Designated Federal Official for the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee and to support the expanding programs of the NIH Pain Consortium.

2013—Creation of an Office of Scientific Liaison within the NINDS Office of the Director.

The Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® Initiative, or The BRAIN Initiative®, launches with NINDS and NIMH co-leading the NIH effort. The BRAIN Initiative is a partnership between Federal and non-Federal partners with a common goal of accelerating the development of innovative neurotechnologies.

NINDS is part of a collaborative effort to launch the NIH NeuroBioBank, which has catalyzed scientific discovery through the centralization of resources aimed at the collection and distribution of human post-mortem brain tissue.

2014—The NIH Blueprint program for “Enhancing Neuroscience Diversity through Undergraduate Research Education Experiences (ENDURE)” is announced to raise interest and opportunities in neuroscience research for individuals at the undergraduate level who are typically underrepresented in the field.

The Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) is launched. A collaboration among NIH, FDA, biopharmaceutical companies, and several non-profits, the project is designed to transform the current model for developing new diagnostics and treatments by jointly identifying and validating promising biological targets of disease. NINDS contributes substantially to the AMP Parkinson’s disease project, launched in 2016.

2016—The NINDS Extramural Program was restructured to include the Division of Neuroscience, Division of Extramural Activities, Division of Clinical Research, and Division of Translational Research.

The NIH Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) Award is initiated to support a defined pathway across career stages for outstanding graduate students who are from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups that are underrepresented in neuroscience research.

Creation of the Office of Programs to Enhance Neuroscience Workforce Diversity (OPEN).

Creation of the NINDS Director of Research Quality position within the NINDS Division of Extramural Activities.

Launch of the NINDS Research Program Award (R35), which seeks to help investigators make meaningful contributions to neuroscience by providing greater funding stability, flexibility, and support.

2018—Office of Pain Policy and Planning (OPPP) established within the NINDS Office of the Director.

Office of Emergency Care Research (OECR) transferred to the NINDS Division of Clinical Research from National Institute of General Medicine Sciences (NIGMS) due to NINDS’ strong expertise in and support for clinical research related to emergency medicine.

Creation of the NINDS Landis Award for Outstanding Mentorship by an NINDS Investigator in honor of former NINDS Director Dr. Story Landis.

2019—Creation of the NINDS Office of Global Health and Health Disparities.

2020—The NIH Office of the BRAIN Director established within NINDS with the appointment of the BRAIN Director.

2021—The new NINDS Strategic Plan, “Investing in the Future of Neuroscience,” was released.

The NIH Blueprint MedTech program begins, which provides funding, resources, and support services needed to catalyze the translation of novel neurotechnologies from early-stage development to first-in-human studies.

The NIH launches the REsearching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) Initiative to support large-scale studies on the long-term effects of COVID-19. NINDS co-chairs this initiative, along with NHLBI.

Creation of the NINDS Deputy Director for Scientific Management and Operations position within the Immediate Office of the Director.

Office of Neural Exposome and Toxicology Research (ONETOX) established in the Division of Translational Research seeks to advance knowledge of internal and external exposures that affect brain and nervous system health, research related to chemical threats, and provides resources that promote chemical safety. ONETOX also coordinates NINDS’ contributions to the NIH-wide CounterACT program, which was launched in 2006 by NINDS.

2022—Creation of the NINDS Director for Research Operations and Analysis within the Division of Extramural Activities.

2023—The Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®, was transferred into NINDS and NIDA from the NIH Office of the Director.

NINDS combined its Office of Communications and Public Liaison and Office of Scientific Liaison into the Office of Neuroscience Communications and Engagement (ONCE).

Publication of the NINDS Social Determinants of Health Framework and Health Equity Strategic Plan in the journal Neurology.

NINDS Legislative Chronology

August 15, 1950—Public Law 81-692 established NINDB "for research on neurological diseases (including epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis) and blindness."

August 16, 1968—Public Law 90-489 renamed the NINDB the National Institute of Neurological Diseases.

October 24, 1968—Public Law 90-636 changed the name of the Institute to the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke.

October 25, 1972—Public Law 92-564 established a temporary National Commission on Multiple Sclerosis supported by NINDS.

March 14, 1975—Part 8 of a HEW Statement of Organization, Functions, and Delegations of Authority was amended to change the title of NINDS to the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke.

July 29, 1975—Public Law 94-63 established two temporary commissions to be supported by NINCDS: the Commission for the Control of Epilepsy and Its Consequences, and the Commission for the Control of Huntington's Disease and Its Consequences.

October 28, 1988—Public Law 100-553 changed the name of NINCDS to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

June 10, 1993—Public Law 103-43 added language on multiple sclerosis research to the legislative mandate of NINDS.

November 13, 1997—Public Law 105-78, the Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Disease and Research Act, added language authorizing increased Parkinson's disease research and training, including research centers.

November 17, 2000—Public Law 106-310, the Children's Health Act of 2000, amended the Public Health Service Act on a wide range of issues affecting children's health. Specifically relevant to the NINDS mission were authorizing provisions for the expansion of autism research, including research centers of excellence, and the establishment of an interagency Autism Coordinating Committee; the establishment of a Pediatric Research Initiative; the development of a pediatric research loan repayment program; the conduct of a national longitudinal study of environmental influences on children's health and development; the study of risk factors for childhood cancers, including malignant tumors of the central nervous system; the support of research with respect to cognitive disorders and neurobehavioral consequences arising from traumatic brain injury; and the expansion and coordination of muscular dystrophy research.

December 18, 2001—Public Law 107-084, the Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research, and Education Amendments of 2001, or the "MD-CARE Act," amended the Public Health Service Act to provide for the expansion and coordination of research with respect to various forms of muscular dystrophy, including the establishment of research centers of excellence and an interagency coordinating committee.

December 19, 2006—Public Law 109-416, the Combating Autism Act of 2006, amended the Public Health Service Act to expand and coordinate research activities with respect to autism spectrum disorders through the Centers of excellence and to establish the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee.

October 8, 2008—Public Law 110-361, the Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research, and Education Amendments of 2008 reauthorized programs at NIH focused on muscular dystrophy and designated the previously established research centers of excellence as Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Centers.

March 30, 2009—Public Law 111-11, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which includes text of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, authorized the NIH Director to: coordinate paralysis research and rehabilitation activities at the NIH; establish consortia in paralysis research; and establish networks of clinical sites that will collaborate to design clinical rehabilitation intervention protocols and outcome measures on paralysis.

September 26, 2014—Public Law 113-166, the Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research, and Education Amendments of 2014 reauthorized and extended the Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research, and Education Amendments (MD-CARE) of 2008. The bill added cardiac and pulmonary function to the research areas covered by the Wellstone Centers, added members to the Muscular Dystrophy Coordinating Committee, and specified twice-yearly meetings of the Committee.

December 13, 2016—Public Law 114-255, the 21st Century Cures Act, establishes the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot and NIH Innovation Projects, to carry out the BRAIN Initiative®, Precision Medicine Initiative, cancer research, and regenerative medicine. The law provided $1.5 billion for the BRAIN Initiative through FY 2026.

January 4, 2011—Public Law No: 111-375, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, establishes both the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease in the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services and an Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services to evaluate federally funded efforts in Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias and recommend priority actions to be reported in an annually updated National Plan.

December 23, 2021—Public Law No: 117-79, the Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for ALS Act (“ACT for ALS”) directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a grant program for research utilizing data from expanded access to investigational amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) treatments for individuals who are not otherwise eligible for clinical trials. It also directs the Secretary to establish a public-private partnership for rare neurodegenerative diseases between the NIH, the FDA, and at least one eligible private entity to advance research that will support the development and regulatory review of medications that address ALS and other rare neurodegenerative diseases.

Biographical Sketch of NINDS Director Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D.

Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., serves as Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. He joined NINDS in 2007 as Deputy Director and has held leadership roles in a number of NIH and NINDS programs, including co-leading the NIH BRAIN Initiative, the NIH RECOVER Initiative in the study of Post Acute Sequelae of COVID-19, the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience, the Traumatic Brain Injury Center collaboration between the NIH intramural program and the Uniformed Health Services University, the NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®, and the Undiagnosed Diseases Network. He co-leads a number of the NIH Common Fund’s programs including the Acute to Chronic Pain Transition programs, Somatic Gene Editing program, and the Accelerating Leading-edge Science in ALS (ALS2) initiative. Dr. Koroshetz was also instrumental in founding the NIH Office of Emergency Care Research.

Before joining NINDS, Dr. Koroshetz served as Vice Chair of the neurology service and Director of Stroke and Neurointensive Care Services at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). He was a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and led neurology resident training at MGH from 1990 to 2007. Over that same period, he co-directed the HMS Neurobiology of Disease Course with Edward Kravitz, M.D., and Robert H Brown, M.D.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Koroshetz graduated from Georgetown University and received his medical degree from the University of Chicago. He trained in internal medicine at the University of Chicago and MGH. He then trained in neurology and neuroscience at MGH and in neurobiology at Harvard, focusing on how synaptic mechanisms might contribute to neuronal death. His early research in the lab and clinic focused on Huntington’s disease. With the team at MGH, he performed the first study of pre-symptomatic testing based on linkage analysis. A major focus of his clinical research career was the development of measures in patients that reflect the underlying biology of their conditions. This led to the development and validation of imaging techniques including magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy in Huntington’s disease, diffusion/perfusion MR and CT x-ray angiography, and perfusion imaging in stroke. These stroke imaging tools are now the standard of care for stroke. Guided by these tools, Dr. Koroshetz pioneered techniques in acute clot removal for acute stroke patients with large artery occlusion, which is now practiced at comprehensive stroke centers around the country. Through his work with the American Academy of Neurology, American Stroke Association, and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, he played a significant role in the revolution in acute stroke care in the U.S. and the growth of the neurointensive care field.

NINDS Directors

Name In Office from To
Pearce Bailey 1951 1959
Richard L. Masland 1959 1968
Edward F. MacNichol, Jr. September 1, 1968 1973
Donald B. Tower May 31, 1974 February 1, 1981
Murray Goldstein December 23, 1982 October 1, 1993
Patricia A. Grady (Acting) September 1993 August 31, 1994
Zach W. Hall September 1, 1994 December 31, 1997
Audrey S. Penn (Acting) January 1, 1998 July 31, 1998
Gerald D. Fischbach August 1, 1998 January 31, 2001
Audrey S. Penn (Acting) February 1, 2001 August 31, 2003
Story C. Landis September 1, 2003 September 30, 2014

Walter J. Koroshetz (Acting)

October 1, 2014 July 28, 2015
Walter J. Koroshetz July 29, 2015 Present

Major Programs

The Institute is organized into five divisions: the Division of Neuroscience, the Division of Extramural Activities, the Division of Clinical Research, the Division of Translational Research, and the Division of Intramural Research. NINDS is also the NIH home of the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® Initiative, or The BRAIN Initiative®, and contributes substantially to the NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®- along with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Division of Neuroscience

The Division of Neuroscience (DON) plans and directs a program of extramural and collaborative research in neuroscience, guiding NINDS’s largest research portfolio and charting the future of a vibrant, growing neuroscience research community. The mission of DON is to support extramural research aimed at understanding fundamental mechanisms of development, structure, and function of the nervous system in health and disease. Basic research to understand the structure and function of the normal nervous system is a critically important sustaining component of the DON research portfolio. 

DON contributes to the NINDS mission by awarding research grants, cooperative agreements and contracts to academic, non-profit, and industry researchers and by supporting conferences and training at all career levels. DON program staff provide guidance and resources for investigators and research teams and collaborate with other NINDS divisions, NIH institutes, government and private agencies and organizations, and patient-oriented groups to optimize research outcomes.

Division of Extramural Activities

The Division of Extramural Activities (DEA) is responsible for planning and policy, coordinating scientific programs funded by the institute. DEA also oversees the scientific review, grants management, and administrative services of the extramural program at NINDS.


  • Advises the Director on issues related to policy and procedures related to the institute's extramural programs;
  • Represents the institute director as required in extramural relationships;
  • Coordinates program planning in the extramural areas;
  • Provides technical support activities, including technical merit review of grant and contract applications and proposals, and grants and contract management services;
  • Provides coordination, support, and staff services for committee management;
  • Manages the operations of the National Advisory Council on Neurological Disorders and Stroke;

The Division of Extramural Activities also includes the Office of Research Operations and Analysis, the Office of Research Quality, the Office of Programs to Enhance Neuroscience Workforce Diversity, the Office of Training and Workforce Development, and the Scientific Review Branch.

Office of Research Operations and Analysis


  • Provides technical support activities, including grants management services;
  • Provides coordination, support, and staff services for committee management;
  • Manages the operations of the National Advisory Council on Neurological Disorders and Stroke;
  • Provides capacity for the analytic activities of NINDS in collaboration with the Office of Science Policy and Planning (OSPP); and
  • Coordinates and harmonizes research operations (i.e. program, budget, grants management, review, and other administrative processes) across the extramural program.

This Office of Research Operations and Analysis also includes the Data Modeling and Analytics Branch, the Research Operations Branch, the Grants Management Branch, and the Extramural Administration Branch.

Office of Research Quality


  • Serves as a liaison and informational resource for stakeholders inside and outside of NIH on issues of scientific rigor, transparency, and quality;
  • Performs analysis to evaluate adherence to rigor and transparency goals and policies inside and outside of NIH;
  • Develops and administers funding opportunities and other initiatives to advance scientific rigor and transparency practices and training;
  • Engages stakeholders to increase awareness and create buy-in valuing and observing experimental best practices.

Scientific Review Branch


  • Directs and carries out the scientific and technical merit review of grant applications, cooperative agreements, and contract proposals including program projects and center grants, clinical trial networks, translational research initiatives, research training and career development awards, and conference grants;
  • Develops and coordinates policies and procedures of review committees and NINDS special emphasis panels; and
  • Conducts the search for individuals to serve as members of initial review groups and organizes scientific and technical merit review meetings.

Office of Programs to Enhance Neuroscience Workforce Diversity


  • Represents NINDS at all levels of NIH in matters pertaining to NINDS workforce diversity;
  • Develops and implements specific funding opportunities (individual and institutional) and works across the NINDS scientific portfolio to promote inclusion;
  • Develops and implements training and career development programs and activities to facilitate the creation of a diverse scientific workforce in the neurosciences;
  • Initiates conferences, workshops, symposia, and professional development activities to enhance diversity in the neuroscience workforce;
  • Oversees research education partnerships across NIH, scientific societies, and research institutions;
  • Conducts outreach to diverse stakeholders to promote the research mission; and
  • Coordinates with NINDS intramural efforts to raise awareness about diversity and recruit diverse staff members.

Office of Training and Workforce Development


  • Develops and implements training and career development programs and activities to facilitate the cultivation of a future scientific workforce in the neurosciences;
  • Develops and implements initiatives, specific funding opportunities (individual and institutional), conferences, workshops, symposia, and professional development activities to more efficiently and successfully produce clinician-scientists;
  • Evaluates training and career development programs to ensure their effectiveness; and
  • Oversees research education granting mechanisms and outreach activities to enhance the pipeline of students at all levels into the scientific workforce.

Division of Clinical Research

The Division of Clinical Research (DCR) supports clinical trials infrastructure and large-scale clinical research, including early and advanced phase clinical trials, comparative effectiveness research, and epidemiological studies for neurological conditions across the lifespan. To optimize clinical research, DCR enforces milestones for progress and provides resources to improve patient access and recruitment.

  • Guides the development and implementation of investigator-initiated clinical trials across all age groups, within the United States and globally, to test the safety and efficacy of innovative treatments for neurological disorders and stroke and to compare the efficacy of existing treatments;
  • Provides guidance and leadership to NINDS-funded extramural networks that implement clinical trials in neurological disorders and stroke;
  • Promotes epidemiological studies of the natural history and early markers of neurological disorders and stroke, to elucidate the causative path leading to the disorders and to stimulate the search for new treatments and prevention strategies;
  • Develops research initiatives aimed at reducing health disparities in neurological disorders;
  • Promotes research that focuses on how clinical research outcomes can be translated into clinical practice;
  • Provides oversight and serves as a resource to the institute and to NINDS-funded investigators, to ensure proper level of patient safety monitoring; organizes Data and Safety Monitoring Boards to oversee patient safety and scientific integrity of clinical research; 
  • Promotes sharing of clinical research data through use of common data elements and archiving of public use datasets from NINDS-funded clinical trials;
  • Participates in the institute's efforts to develop a cadre of clinician-scientists who will contribute to clinical research in the future; and
  • Provides expertise in statistics and clinical trial design to the Institute and to clinical investigators.

Office of Global Health and Health Disparities

The NINDS Office of Global Health and Health Disparities (OGHHD), within DCR, leads the coordination, development, and reporting on programs and initiatives related to national and international research on disparities and inequities in neurological disease. OGHHD’s programmatic activities include:


  • Building sustainable capacity in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) to conduct and apply research to address public health challenges associated with neurological disorders.
  • Supporting bilateral partnerships between the U.S. and middle-to high-income countries in research areas that are of mutual interest.
  • Advancing research on tailored prevention and treatment strategies aimed at improving health outcomes in underserved and understudied populations in the US (including racial and ethnic minority, rural, sexual and gender minority, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and populations living with disabilities, through investments in research and training).

OGHHD is also responsible for a number of policy, planning, and communications activities, including contributing to congressional reporting, annual and triennial enrollment inclusion reports, reporting to NIMHD, and providing health equity and global health expertise and strategic planning.

Division of Translational Research

The Division of Translational Research (DTR) is responsible for many efforts/programs to accomplish the mission of NINDS and includes: the Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network for Small Molecules (BPN), the Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network for Biologics (BPN-Biologics), the Ultra-Rare Gene-Based Therapy (URGenT) Network, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), the Biomarkers Program, the Innovation Grants to Nurture Initial Translational Efforts (IGNITE), the Translational Neural Devices (TND), the Preclinical Screening Platform for Pain (PSPP), the Epilepsy Therapy Screening Program (ETSP), and the Office of Neural Exposome and toxicology (ONETOX).

  • Supports the acceleration of research findings towards patient use for neurological disorders and stroke by providing funding, expertise, and resources to the research community;
  • Provides funding and resources through grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts to academic and industry researchers to advance early-stage neurological technologies, devices, and therapeutic programs to industry adoption;
  • Offers a variety of programs that support the design, implementation, and management of research activities critical to translational challenges in the treatment of neurological disease.

The Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network for Small Molecules (BPN)


  • Provides an opportunity to translate basic and applied findings into novel clinical candidates and advance them to the clinic.
  • Generates the required data to de-risk further funding for subsequent clinical trials, partnership, or out-licensing.

The Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network for Biologics (BPN-Biologics)


  • Provides non-dilutive funding and resources for biotherapeutic drug discovery and development, from lead optimization through Phase I clinical testing.
  • Supports preclinical discovery and development of potential therapeutic Biotechnology Products and Biologics including, but not limited to, large biologic macromolecules, (e.g., proteins, antibodies, and peptides), gene-based therapies (e.g., oligonucleotide- and viral-based), cell therapies, and novel emerging therapies (e.g., microbial and microbiome therapies).
  • Collaborates with NIH-funded contract research organizations (CROs) that specialize in manufacturing, scaling, pharmacokinetics, toxicology, and Phase I clinical testing.  

The Ultra-Rare Gene-Based Therapy (URGenT) Network


  • Supports investigational new drug (IND) enabling studies and planning activities for First-in-Human clinical testing of gene-based or transcript-directed therapeutics, such as oligonucleotides and viral-based gene therapies, for ultra-rare neurological or neuromuscular disorders.
  • Supports conduct of gene-based therapy clinical trials for ultra-rare neurological diseases following IND acquisition to expedite progression of an asset from the pre-clinical to clinical phase, thereby accelerating gene therapy development.
  • Accelerates the development of a promising clinical candidate with robust biological rationale and demonstrated proof of concept data for the intended approach in a model system relevant to a specified patient population towards an IND filing and the initiation of a clinical trial.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)


  • Provides funding for the research and development of innovations and supports commercialization throughout the nation.
  • Stimulates technological innovation.
  • Focuses on meeting federal research and development needs.
  • Increases private sector commercialization of innovations developed through federal R&D funding.
  • Fosters and encourages participation in innovation and entrepreneurship by socially and economically disadvantaged (SDB) persons and women-owned small businesses (WOSB).

Office of Neural Exposome and Toxicology (ONETOX) 


  • Supports research and provides resources to advance knowledge of internal and external exposures that affect brain and nervous system health (neural exposome), leads research related to chemical threats (CounterACT Program), and provides resources that promote chemical safety. 

Division of Intramural Research

The NINDS Division of Intramural Research (DIR) is the internal research program of the NINDS and is among the largest neuroscience research centers in the world. It is home to more than 500 scientists who conduct leading-edge basic, translational, and clinical research in neuroscience, neurology, and neurosurgery research at NINDS laboratories in Bethesda, Maryland.

NINDS DIR conducts research and training in laboratories on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

A full description of the NINDS Division of Intramural Research can be found at

Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative

The Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® Initiative, or The BRAIN Initiative®, is uniquely positioned for cross-cutting discoveries in neuroscience to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain. By accelerating the development and application of innovative neurotechnologies, the NIH BRAIN Initiative is enabling researchers to understand the brain at unprecedented levels of detail in both health and disease, improving how we treat, prevent, and cure brain disorders. The Initiative’s multi-disciplinary network of Federal and non-Federal partners allows it to fuel discoveries in neuroscience that go beyond the capability of any single NIH Institute or Center.

Under the leadership of its director, Dr. John Ngai, the NIH BRAIN Initiative has invested billions of dollars in changing how science is done, advancing the pace of neuroscience research. These projects have focused on discovery to gather the data needed to help us better understand the human brain; and, in clinical applications, funding innovative treatments that have made a significant impact for people living with Alzheimer’s disease, obsessive compulsive depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and stroke.

The NIH BRAIN Initiative spans across 10 NIH Institutes and Centers, whose missions and current research portfolios complement the  goals of the Initiative: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, National Eye Institute, National Institute on Aging, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, National Institute of Mental Health, and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

NIH HEAL Initiative®

The NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-term ® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®, established in 2018, is an NIH-wide research effort to speed scientific solutions to the nation’s opioid public health crisis. It involves nearly every NIH Institute, Center, and Office (ICO), with collaborations extending across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, community organizations, research institutions, and the private sector. Over 1,000 HEAL-funded researchers and research projects are taking a variety of approaches to address the opioid crisis through understanding, managing, and treating pain and improving treatment for opioid misuse and addiction. The initiative is jointly managed by NINDS and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). NINDS is the largest funder of pain research at NIH and coordinates the NIH Pain Consortium, which was established to enhance pain research and promote cross-agency research collaboration. NINDS coordinates HEAL research efforts across NIH to develop safe and effective therapies for acute and chronic pain and improve pain management. NIDA leads HEAL research efforts concerning opioid use disorder and overdose, co-occurring stimulant and other drug use disorders, and co-occurring mental health conditions.

RECOVER Initiative

Along with NHLBI, NINDS co-leads the RECOVER Initiative, which was created by NIH to learn about the long-term effects of COVID. The goal of RECOVER is to rapidly improve our understanding of and ability to predict, treat, and prevent PASC (post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2), including Long COVID. RECOVER is a first of its kind research initiative created specifically to address the widespread and diverse impacts of Long COVID. Thousands of people have joined RECOVER studies.

NIH HEAL Initiative and Helping to End Addiction Long-term are registered service marks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


This page last reviewed on February 14, 2024