The Office of Communications and Public Liaison (OCPL) is responsible for communicating information on NIH programs and activities to the public, the media, the scientific and medical communities, and public advocacy groups.

The Office of Communications and Public Liaison (OCPL) is located in NIH's Office of the Director and is the central office for communications at NIH. OCPL leads the effort to communicate information about NIH programs, issues and accomplishments to the public, the media, public interest groups, and the scientific and medical communities. OCPL manages the principal Web site for NIH and produces a variety of original communication products tailored for different external audiences. The office also sets communications policies for the NIH and coordinates communications and public liaison activities across the agency. OCPL is responsible for agency-wide internal communication efforts as well, producing both traditional and electronic publications for NIH employees. The office serves as the communications link between the NIH and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, we also coordinate how NIH implements the Freedom of Information Act.

OCPL also coordinates the NIH "Clear Communication: An NIH Health Literacy Initiative," an example of a trans-agency program that offers materials and resources for professionals to use in reaching individuals with literacy challenges or those with disabilities and disorders that serve to create obstacles to communication. A key component of the program is the NIH Plain Language Program.

OCPL Components

The OCPL provides services directly to the public through the following component offices, divisions, and programs:

Public Information Office (PIO)

The PIO communicates cross-cutting NIH programs, including those that involve medical research policy or span multiple disease categories. The PIO oversees the central news and media operations for NIH and produces and distributes a number of information items that together showcase NIH. Communication products include print and electronic materials; the NIH Web site; internal publications, such as the NIH Record. Offices under the PIO include:

  • The NIH Clinical Research Trials and You website was designed to provide a reliable, accessible source of information to increase public awareness about the nature of clinical research and offer research volunteer opportunities for both people with conditions and healthy volunteers. NIH Clinical Research Trials and You also features ResearchMatch.org – a free and secure online registry developed by major academic institutions across the country. The programs include both research conducted at the National Institutes of Health and research supported by NIH at its grantee institutions in the 50 states and around the world. NIH Clinical Research Trials and You provides a reliable, accessible home for this information for the public, health care providers, and advocacy groups. The website also includes a registry of disease registries that may be of interest to you. Information from the web page is available in Spanish here!
  • The Public Information Officers (PIO) Network links communications professionals together — from NIH institutes and centers to grantee institutions across the country — to deliver the best science, medicine and health information available to the public. The NIH PIO Network fosters communication through conference calls, e-mail updates and announcements, conferences and our Web site. Contact us at  pio@nih.gov(link sends e-mail) for more information.
  • The Spanish Health Information Portal offers a wealth of free, science-based health information in Spanish, from across NIH in one place. The mobile-friendly site includes translations of many health articles from the NIH News in Health  publication and clinical trials information from the NIH Clinical Research Trials and You website. It also features a monthly column called Ask Carla (Pregunta a Carla), designed as an opportunity for readers to learn about Spanish-language resources available from the NIH.

News Media Branch (NMB)

This office serves as the central news contact for members of the electronic and print media. The News Media Branch also manages press conferences for the NIH Director, staff scientists, and officials and keeps NIH leadership informed about media coverage of NIH research efforts. The Branch also clears news releases with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs, HHS prior to distribution. The News Media Branch maintains an NIH presence on YouTube.

Editorial Operations Branch (EOB)

The EOB serves as the central resource for the ICs in developing publications, including the 350 to 400 or more printed items in development at NIH each year. EOB handles Federal clearance and review procedures; serves as a liaison with Federal printing, binding, and copyright points-of-contact; and is the principal publications review office for NIH. EOB also plays a key role in promoting a greater understanding and appreciation of NIH programs and activities by the public, Congress, media (print), scientists, and health professionals. Among the items EOB produces are the following:

  • The NIH Record was founded in 1949 and is a biweekly newsletter that covers issues of significance to NIH staff, contractors, and trainees. The NIH Record is published 25 times each year and circulated to more than 20,000 readers. Subscribe to the NIH Record: listserv@list.nih.gov with the words “Subscribe NIHRECORD” in the message body.
  • NIH Info,” the NIH's e-mail portal where the public can find information and direct questions to agency staff for response.
  • The NIH Publications web site is an online version of what used to be an annual paper booklet that offered all titles available from the National Institutes of Health. Used in conjunction with the publication web pages offered by most NIH institutes and centers, this site should provide a comprehensive listing of all available NIH publications. It is updated continuously as new publications are printed.

Online Information Branch (OLIB)

The OLIB provides leadership for promoting effective Web practices across NIH. OLIB also maintains and enhances the principal NIH Web site, the nation's leading source for authoritative, vetted health information, with millions of viewers a month.

  • The NIH Web site offers direct access to health information, research funding opportunities, scientific resources, and the latest research news. Key areas of the NIH Web site such as: Health Information, News and Events, Research and Training, Institutes, About NIH, the NIH Director's page and For Employees.
  • The NIH Employee Intranet database provides links to the logistics, facilities, and policy information that all NIH employees need for a safe and productive work experience.

  • The NIH Calendar of Events serves to strengthen collaboration between NIH scientists, staff members, and contractors by providing a means for publicizing talks and presentations.
  • The NIH Almanac is an annual publication that offers comprehensive, historical information about the NIH.

Science Communication Branch (SCB)

The SCB raises public awareness of research findings related to the prevention and treatment of various diseases and conditions, and increases knowledge of biomedical research. Among the products SCB produces:

  • NIH News in Health is a free monthly newsletter that offers practical health information based on research conducted by NIH scientists and grantees around the country. Get tips on staying healthy and caring for loved ones, and learn about cutting-edge medical approaches being explored by scientists. All stories are reviewed for accuracy by NIH’s medical experts. Sign up to receive email alerts when new issues are posted online. To order free print copies for patients and community members, email nihnewsinhealth@od.nih.gov and include your mailing address and the number of copies you would like. As our material is not copyrighted, we also encourage editors to reprint stories in their own newspapers, magazines, and Web publications.
  • NIH Research Matters is a weekly update of NIH research highlights. Sign up to receive email alerts when new issues are posted online.
  • NIH Health Information Portal guides people to relevant, timely health resources from across NIH. The portal highlights NIH resources in a clear, user-friendly style, and provides a focused search to direct visitors to evidence-based information, resources, and tips to improve health and prevent disease. Sign up to receive alerts when new highlights are posted.

Special Projects Branch and Visitor Services

The NIH Special Projects Branch oversees visitor services and plans, organizes, and presents special events and functions. Events include building dedications and the annual NIH Research Festival. The Visitor Information Center arranges overviews, tours, meetings, speakers and other special programs for national and international visitors. The NIH Visitor Center and Nobel Laureate Exhibit Hall is located in the Natcher Conference Center, Building 45, on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

Freedom of Information Act Office (FOIA)

This office is responsible for implementing the Freedom of Information Act at NIH. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is the Federal law that provides individuals with a right to access records in the possession of the Federal Government. The NIH FOIA Office provides guidance and advice regarding FOIA to the NIH community and to FOIA requesters. The NIH FOIA Office processes FOIA requests for records of the Office of the NIH Director and requests for records related to trans-NIH initiatives in addition to overseeing the processing of requests received by the NIH Institutes and Centers. Learn how to submit a FOIA request.

Office of Community Liaison (OCL)

The Office of Community Liaison ensures effective communication and collaboration on policy and programs involving the community surrounding the NIH campus. OCL advises the NIH Director on policies, programs, and issues involving the NIH and its community and facilitates collaboration and cooperation between the agency and its community. OCL staff members conduct and oversee studies, projects, and evaluations designed to address problems, questions, and issues of community concern and environmental impact. The office also works to ensure appropriate community representation in the design, review, and implementation of policies and programs.

This page last reviewed on December 4, 2017