News Release

Monday, March 21, 2011

NICHD seeks comment on scientific vision papers

Documents mark first step to chart NIH institute’s future research.

The first two of nine white papers outlining a scientific vision for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) are now available online for public comment.

The two white papers are one step in a comprehensive process to develop a scientific vision for the institute. The leadership of the NICHD undertook its vision process to identify the most promising scientific opportunities of the next decade and to set an ambitious agenda that achieves critical scientific goals and meets pressing public health needs.

The workshops were attended by diverse groups of experts, including obstetricians, pediatricians, and anthropologists, molecular biologists, neuroscientists, and economists. The themes of the first two white papers are reproduction and plasticity — the idea that tissues are capable of adapting and healing throughout life. Ultimately, the remaining seven white papers also will be posted for comment on the NICHD’s website.

The white papers will provide the basis for a vision statement of research priorities to further the NICHD mission to ensure that every person is born healthy and wanted, that women suffer no harmful effects from reproductive processes, and that all children have the chance to achieve their full potential for healthy and productive lives, free from disease or disability, and to ensure the health, productivity, independence, and well-being of all people through optimal rehabilitation.

Institute staff will use this vision as a basis for developing its programs and activities over the next decade.

"We welcome the comments and suggestions of people from all walks of life — not just from the research community, but also from public health and community leaders, educators, practicing clinicians, and members of the general public," said Alan E. Guttmacher, M.D., director of the NICHD. "The insights and creativity provided by multiple perspectives will no doubt help to advance the institute’s vitally important mission."

The white papers on reproduction and plasticity are available at Comments may be posted on the NICHD vision page. In the weeks ahead, additional white papers on the following themes will be available:

  • Development
  • Cognition
  • Behavior
  • Pregnancy and Pregnancy Outcomes
  • Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
  • Environment
  • Diagnostics and Therapeutics

The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute’s Web site at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): 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. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®