Accelerating Medicines Partnership®

When using the Accelerating Medicines Partnership® and AMP® names, add the superscript registered R symbol in the first usage on a webpage or print product. For subsequent references, use the abbreviation AMP without the registered R symbol.

When the registered services marks are used, the website or material in which they appear should include this attribution statement in a footer on the homepage or at the end of the material: “ACCELERATING MEDICINES PARTNERSHIP® and AMP® are registered service marks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”

When the marks are used in text (e.g., in sentences and paragraphs), use the marks as an adjective, not as a noun. For example: “The Accelerating Medicines Partnership® Program for Alzheimer’s Disease (AMP® AD).”

Acting (as a job title)

While AP does not capitalize acting as a job title, Acting is a term of law when applied to a person holding an HHS position because an acting holder of a position can have different levels of responsibility than a permanent appointee.

Acting should be capitalized as part of a formal title if a person is officially named to that job. This is a divergence from AP style. Similarly, if a person is not officially named as acting holder of a position, avoid using it entirely.

When acting is part of a job title, include it right before the job title and not after the title in parentheses. Correct: Acting NIH Director. Incorrect: NIH Director (Acting).

Abbreviations, initialisms, and acronyms

Always write out the full name and only include the abbreviation in parentheses after the first reference if the name is referenced again in the story, e.g., the Office of Extramural Research (OER). Abbreviations can be used for all subsequent references on the same webpage or document. Do not list an acronym or abbreviation when something is mentioned only once in a story.

If writing for an internal audience, NIH can be used without spelling out on first reference.

Follow AP style and use as few abbreviations, initialisms and acronyms as possible, especially when they are less well known. Many people recognize FDA, but few people will quickly recognize the abbreviated form of a specific working group within an NIH institute. For the latter, using the full name is better even on the second reference, or use a short, contextual reference like “the working group.”

For clinical trial study names, you can either spell out the full title followed by the acronym / study name, or use the name alone and then orient the audience by describing the study.

For example: The COMBINE study is the largest pharmacotherapy trial conducted for alcohol use disorder in the United States.

When a name is long and cumbersome and may not be recognized, this form is acceptable: to discover the LINGO-2 protein (short for leucine-rich repeat and immunoglobin-like domain-containing interacting protein–2).

Some abbreviations, such as HIV or AIDS, are so familiar that they do not need to be spelled out.

The NIH intranet page has a list of Commonly Used Acronyms and Abbreviations.

Agency names and articles

Do not use the before the acronym NIH (or other ICO acronyms) unless it is in front of a proper noun. For example, write “The letter was addressed to NIH” instead of “The letter was addressed to the NIH.” However, you would write “The NIH BRAIN Initiative signals a paradigm shift for neuroscience” and “The NIH director’s research priorities.”

When NIH or an ICO acronym is used as a noun, the is not needed. For example, “NIH is the nation’s leading biomedical research institution,” or “Today, NIH announced…”

For other agencies, it varies. Use the before the agency name if the agency commonly is known by that usage. AP commonly uses the before FDA (e.g., “The FDA announced…”). The does not typically precede initials of less well-known agencies, such as AHRQ.

Use an before abbreviations like NIH where the initial sound is a vowel sound. For example, “an NIH grant.”

When U.S. is part of a department or agency’s official name, include it on the first reference. For example, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but not before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

BRAIN Initiative®

The following are registered trademarks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® and The BRAIN Initiative®.

The following versions are not trademarked and do not require the registered trademark symbol: BRAIN Initiative, NIH BRAIN Initiative, and the NIH BRAIN Initiative.

On first reference and within the same sentence, both registered trademarks should appear as follows: The Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechologies® Initiative, or The BRAIN Initiative®, aims to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain. On subsequent references, use BRAIN Initiative and NIH BRAIN Initiative without the registered R symbol.  

When the registered trademarks are used, the website or material in which they appear should include this attribution statement in a footer of the homepage or at the end of the material: Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechologies® Initiative and The BRAIN Initiative® are registered trademarks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. is a database hosted by NLM of privately and publicly funded clinical studies conducted around the world. It is the world’s largest clinical trial registry and results database.

Never use, which links to Connecticut's official state website.


Clinician–scientists are scientists with professional degrees who have training in clinical care and are engaged in independent biomedical research. Clinician–scientists can be dentist-scientists or nurse–scientists, for example, while physician–scientists have an M.D. or D.O. degree. When writing for the public, define the term after the first use.

Drug names

At first mention, give the nonproprietary generic drug name followed by the drug's brand name if there is only one in parentheses, such as "imatinib (Gleevec)." Exclude brand name with generic drugs with multiple brands. Do not capitalize the generic names of drugs. Use an initial capital for the brand name and omit trademark symbols (® and ™). For subsequent mentions, use the nonproprietary drug name unless there is a specific need to refer to a brand name.

Early career scientists

Early career scientists are about to transition, or have recently moved, to fully independent positions as investigators, faculty members, clinician scientists, or scientific team leaders in industry. Early career scientists focus on establishing themselves as the experts in their chosen research areas.

They are also referred to as early career researchers or early career investigators. Do not use the term young scientists. A hyphen is not necessary following the word early for these terms.

An early stage investigator (ESI), however, has a more narrow definition. An ESI is a program director / principal investigator (PD/PI) who has completed their terminal research degree or end of post-graduate clinical training (whichever date is later) within the past 10 years and has not previously competed successfully as PD/PI for a substantial NIH independent research award.

Foreign influence vs. inappropriate foreign government interference

When referring to international risks or threats to U.S. biomedical research integrity and security, use inappropriate foreign government interference instead of foreign influence.

See Protecting U.S. Biomedical Intellectual Innovation for more information.


Only capitalize grant when it is part of a proper noun, like a formal title.

NIH grant program names combine one letter and two numbers. Research grants start with R, career development awards start with K, research training grants start with T, fellowships start with F, program project and center grants start with P, and cooperative agreements start with U.

Use the term recipient instead of grantee or awardee when referring to grant recipients. NIH makes grants to institutions and organizations, not individuals (with the exception of certain career development grants).

NIH mechanisms refer to the various types of funding mechanisms NIH uses to support research, both extramurally (grants, contracts, and other transactions) as well as intramurally on our campuses. R01, R21, U01, are examples of grant types, or activity codes, and not NIH mechanisms.

Reference the Types of Grant Programs page for more thorough descriptions.

Humans and other animals

Write humans and other animals instead of humans and animals because humans are animals.

Intramural Research Program

The Intramural Research Program (IRP) refers to the internal research program at NIH. The Office of Intramural Research oversees the policies and processes that govern the IRP. Many ICs use Division of Intramural Research to refer to their own IRP.

Intramural research activities are conducted by individuals with a specific type of NIH appointment called an Intramural Professional Designation, as well as by those who provide direct support to their research efforts.

The term intramural should only be used to refer to individuals and research within the IRP. Intramural should not be used for activities being performed or overseen by Office of Extramural Research or the Office of Management.


MedlinePlus is an online health information resource hosted by NLM. It presents high-quality, relevant health and wellness information that is easy to understand in both English and Spanish.

MedlinePlus is one word in camel case, with no space between Medline and Plus. Camel case is writing phrases without spaces or punctuation and indicating the separation of words with a single capitalized letter. Never use Medline, Medline+, or M+.

NIH HEAL Initiative®

On first reference, registered service marks should both appear: Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®.

On subsequent references, write either the NIH HEAL Initiative (without the registered R symbol) or the initiative (lowercase, no initial capitalization).

Do not write NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative® or NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative.

When the registered service marks are used, the website or material in which they appear should include this attribution statement in a footer of the homepage or at the end of the material: NIH HEAL Initiative and Helping to End Addiction Long-term are registered service marks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

NIH institutes, centers, and offices

NIH is made up of 27 Institutes and Centers (ICs) and many policy and program offices within the Office of the Director (OD). When referring only to institutes and centers, use the abbreviation ICs on subsequent references. When referring to ICs and OD offices, use ICOs on subsequent references (e.g., “All ICO directors have reviewed this report”).

Only use an apostrophe with the abbreviation ICs if it is possessive, e.g., “the ICs’ research priorities.” Note that the apostrophe would always go after the s because ICs is plural. If it were a single institute or center, you would not need to use the abbreviation. Do not put an apostrophe between IC and the letter s when it is simply a plural noun. ICs is correct.

The words institute, center, and office are not capitalized when used generally. Only capitalize them when used in their title, e.g., The National Cancer Institute, or The Office of Science Policy. Capitalize Institutes and Centers if writing about the collective 27 and capitalize Institutes, Centers, and Offices if writing about all ICs and OD offices.

For example, use lowercase for institute in subsequent references if not using the acronym: “The National Cancer Institute is the federal government's principal agency for cancer research and training. The institute…”

When writing for the public, lead with the largest overall organization: NIH. In subsequent references, cite the next largest: IC or OD office. Avoid individual lab/office/unit names; that level of detail is unnecessary and may confuse the media and the public. Remember your audience; it is not the scientist or the lab members. For example, an NIMH clinical scientist might be identified simply as “Dr. Sue Smith, a mental health researcher at the National Institutes of Health” on first reference. On the second reference you could reference the National Institute of Mental Health.

For directors and deputy directors of ICOs, use their official title and include the ICO name.

Specific ICO naming conventions

All of Us Research Program

The All of Us Research Program always has All of Us in italics and can be shortened to All of Us or the program in subsequent references.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

The official name for NICHD is the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with Eunice Kennedy Shriver in italics. The acronym remains NICHD.

Fogarty International Center

John E. Fogarty International Center is the official name, but it is rarely used. The preferred, commonly used name is Fogarty International Center. For subsequent references, use Fogarty instead of FIC.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

This institute name contains two commas. Pay attention to punctuation when writing out the full name.

NIH-wide vs. trans-NIH

To avoid confusion, the term NIH-wide is preferrable to trans-NIH, unless part of a formal name, e.g., Trans-NIH ME/CFS Working Group. If referring to an NIH initiative that involves two or more institutes, but not all of NIH, you can refer to it as a multi-institute program, list the institutes, or write “this program has input from five NIH institutes.”

Notice of funding opportunity

A notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) is a formal announcement of the availability of federal funding through a financial assistance program from a federal awarding agency, previously referred to as funding opportunity announcements (FOAs). The notice of funding opportunity provides information on the award, who is eligible to apply, the evaluation criteria for selection of a recipient, required components of an application, and how to submit the application.

We recommend referencing funding opportunities rather than NOFOs for the sake of plain language.

Notice of funding opportunity should not be capitalized.

The plural form is notices of funding opportunities.

Nonhuman primates

Write nonhuman as one word, not non-human or non human. As in, nonhuman primates.

Official job titles (director, senator, ambassador, president)

Capitalize official titles in NIH writing, whether it is before or after a name. This is a divergence from AP style (which is used in  in which for media products, follow AP style). Do not capitalize general or informal references to titles, such as scientists or grants management specialists.

In materials for a general audience, use a more plain-language description of a person’s role when possible, especially if their official title is long or complex, e.g., “Dr. Nita Seibel, a childhood cancer specialist at NIH” instead of “…head of the Pediatric Solid Tumor Therapeutics in the Clinical Investigations Branch of the Cancer Therapy and Evaluation Program of the National Cancer Institute.”


  • Dr. Gary Gibbons, Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
  • NHLBI Director Gary Gibbons, M.D.
  • Dr. Katharine Fernandez is a scientist in the Laboratory of Hearing Biology and Therapeutics. She is also an audiologist.
  • Today, IC grants management staff have a new tool in their arsenal
  • New guidelines have been implemented for review staff who monitor XYZ grant applications.
  • NIH ICs are hiring health scientist administrators, grants management specialists, program analysts, data scientists, and more.


American Medical Association style for referencing a patent:
Inventor last name, First initial. (Year). Title of patent (Country/Region Patent No. Number). Issuing Body. URL

A quick reference can be in this format: U.S. patent 5,0621,620


Physician–scientists are medical doctors who are engaged in independent biomedical research. They may also hold a Ph.D. and be referred to as an M.D./Ph.D. When the scientist has direct contact with patients as part of research but does not have an M.D./D.O. degree, they should be referred to as a [clinical specialty]–scientist or as a clinician–scientist; not as a physician–scientist. When writing for the public, define the term after the first use.

Possessive apostrophe and institute names

When indicating possession, add an apostrophe s to the end of the institute acronym: NHLBI’s research. When an ICO ends in the letter s, simply add the apostrophe and not apostrophe s. For example, NINDS’ not NINDS’s, All of Us’ not All of Us’s.


A postbac (short for postbaccalaureate) is a recent college graduate with a bachelor’s degree who has come to NIH to spend a year or two doing biomedical research. Write postbac as one word, not post-bac, and if writing for the public, write out postbaccalaureate trainee and include postbac in parentheses after the first reference. Postbac can be used for all subsequent references on the same webpage or document.


A postdoc (short for postdoctoral) is someone with a doctoral degree (Ph.D., M.D., D.D.S., or the equivalent) who is engaged in a temporary period of mentored research or scholarly training to acquire the professional skills needed to pursue a certain career path. Write postdoc as one word, not post-doc. If writing for the public, write out postdoctoral trainee/fellow, as appropriate, and include postdoc in parentheses after the first reference. Postdoc can be used for all subsequent references on the same webpage or document.

Program titles

Capitalize names of programs when mentioned formally; lowercase when referred to generically.


NIH provides an array of career development and training to trainees at the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels. One of these is the Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award. This award provides support for the career development of clinically trained professionals who have made a commitment to patient-oriented research.

The NIH Office of Extramural Research holds its Virtual Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration annually. The virtual seminar, which draws people from across the globe, demystifies the application and review process, clarifies federal regulations and policies, and highlights current areas of special interest or concern.

Titles and degrees

Doctor is a title applying to those who hold advanced degrees (e.g., Ph.D., D.D.S, D.V.M.). Physician refers to a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.).

Do not use the title (Dr.) and the degree (Ph.D., M.D.) together. Always use periods in the degree abbreviations as shown below.

Incorrect: Dr. Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
Correct: Dr. Francis Collins
Correct: Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

For NIH web writing, identify people with their full name and degrees on first reference, then Dr. Last name in all other references. This is a divergence from AP style. For media products and NIH articles and news stories (e.g., The NIH Record, Research Matters), follow AP style and use last name only (no Dr.) after the first reference.

If someone has more than one advanced degree, list them in the order they prefer, separated with commas. If no preference is apparent, list higher degrees first.


  • M.D., Ph.D.
  • D.D.S., Dr.P.H.

Add a comma between last name and each degree, and after the last degree in a series (e.g., John Smith, M.D., Ph.D., will speak at the conference).

Do not use periods for postnominal titles (office or honor) or nonacademic degrees that show membership in an organization, such as CDE, FACEP, FAAFP, FAAP, FACP, FACS, or FACE.

This page last reviewed on January 17, 2024