January 8, 2021

Statement on the establishment of the Office of Nutrition Research within the NIH Office of the Director

Over the past several years, the National Institutes of Health has been bolstering nutrition research, given the broad impact that nutrition has on health and disease. In 2015, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), one of 27 Institutes and Centers that make up NIH, established the Office of Nutrition Research (ONR) to accelerate progress in nutrition research. In May 2020, NIH announced its first agency-wide strategic plan for nutrition research, the goal of which is to further advance the science and address diet-related diseases across the lifespan.

More recently, NIH has been considering whether nutrition research would be better served by upgrading ONR as a trans-NIH effort, and therefore locating it within the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) in the NIH Office of the Director. DPCPSI has a statutory mandate to identify emerging scientific opportunities, rising public health challenges, and knowledge gaps that deserve special emphasis and would benefit from strategic coordination and planning. Nutrition research certainly fits this need. On December 18, 2020, NIH sought public comment on the proposed transfer of ONR from NIDDK to DPCPSI via a Federal Register Notice. The response from the public and the nutrition research community was overwhelmingly supportive. Such a move was also supported by the Council of Councils, an NIH advisory group, during a special meeting on December 30, 2020.

I’m pleased to share that this week, NIH has begun the official transfer of ONR to DPCPSI. This reorganization positions ONR to enhance engagement of the NIH Institutes and Centers in implementing the 2020-2030 Strategic Plan for NIH Nutrition Research to develop new collaborations and relationships focused on nutrition research within and outside NIH, and to ensure coordination of and leadership for nutrition research across the agency.

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Institutes of Health