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Feature:
NIGMS Marks 50 Years of Discovery

Basic Research for Better Health

Established in 1962, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences primarily supports research that lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. The Institute's research training programs help prepare the next generation of scientists.

A hand holding a petri dish

Each year, NIGMS-supported scientists increase our knowledge about fundamental life processes and disease mechanisms. Institute grantees also develop important new tools and techniques.

The vast majority of the Institute's annual funds go into local economies through grants to scientists at universities, medical schools, hospitals, and other research institutions throughout the country. NIGMS supports approximately 4,700 research grants—about 11 percent of the grants funded by NIH as a whole. NIGMS also supports about 26 percent of the trainees who receive assistance from NIH.

The Institute places great emphasis on supporting investigator-initiated research grants. It funds a small number of research center grants in selected fields, including structural genomics, trauma and burn research, systems biology, and biomedical technology. It also supports centers that build research capacities in states that have historically received low levels of NIH funding. In addition, NIGMS supports several important scientific resources, including the NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository and the Protein Data Bank.

NIGMS research training programs recognize the interdisciplinary nature of biomedical research and stress approaches that cut across disciplinary and departmental lines. Such experience prepares trainees to pursue creative research careers in a wide variety of areas.

Some NIGMS training programs address areas in which there are particularly compelling needs. One of these, the Medical Scientist Training Program, produces M.D./Ph.D.s who are well trained in both basic science and clinical research. Other programs train scientists to conduct research in rapidly growing areas like biotechnology.

NIGMS also has a Pharmacology Research Associate Program, in which postdoctoral scientists receive training in NIH or Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laboratories.

Fast Facts

  • The National Institute of General Medical Sciences was created in 1962.
  • NIGMS supports basic research and scientific training nationwide, increasing understanding of life processes and laying the foundation for advances in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.
  • Six divisions make up NIGMS: Biomedical Technology, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology; Cell Biology and Biophysics; Extramural Activities; Genetics and Developmental Biology; Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry; and Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity.
  • The 2012 NIGMS budget totals just under $2.5 billion.
  • NIGMS will support about 4,704 research grants and 4,310 research trainees in 2012.
  • NIGMS has supported the work of 74 Nobel Prize winnersó38 in physiology or medicine, and 36 in chemistry.
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Summer 2012 Issue: Volume 7 Number 2 Page 11