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National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

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Introduction to Health Services Research : A Self-Study Course

Module 3: Selected Players (Federal and Private) (Page 7 of 27)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Snapshot of the NIH home page. Click to visit the site. Close the open window to return to this page.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) (http://www.nih.gov/) is the principal biomedical research arm of the federal government and the major funder of biomedical research in the United States.

Its programs are oriented primarily toward basic and applied scientific studies on the causes, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of human diseases and disabilities; the fundamental biological process of growth, development, and aging; and the biological effects of the environment.

NIH conducts research in its own laboratories; supports research in universities, hospitals, and research institutions in this country and abroad; helps nonprofit institutions build and equip biomedical research facilities; supports the training of young, promising career researchers; and promotes effective ways to communicate biomedical information to scientists, health practitioners, and the public.

NIH is organized into 27 research institutes and centers, as well as three divisions (Computer Research and Technology Division, Research Grants Division, and Safety Division). It also encompasses the National Library of Medicine, the Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center, the John E. Fogarty International Center for Advanced Study in the Health Sciences, the National Center for Research Resources, and the National Center for Human Genome Research.

Important Institutes include the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), among others.

Notification Services

To keep current about what is happening at NIH, join the NIH listserv or copy its RSS feed URL to your RSS aggregator program. The URL for the RSS feed is: http://www.nih.gov/news/feed.xml.

The Center for Information Technology (CIT) makes special NIH events, seminars, and lectures available to viewers on the NIH network and the Internet from the VideoCast Web site via their notification service. To view the videocasts you must download and install RealPlayer. Although time consuming to view, the videocasts are on important topics of relevance to researchers.

Discussion Questions

  1. NIH is a huge enterprise. If you were going to study how it is organized and what content was available on the site, how would you go about it?
  2. Which Institute/s or Center/s is/are most useful to the work you do? Please explain how you would use the Institute/s or Center/s in your work.
  3. NIH is one of the largest funders of health services and medical research in the United States. How easy is it to locate helpful information and guidance on finding out what NIH funds, what the funding process is, and how to submit your research ideas?
  4. Examine the Grants and Funding Opportunities section on the NIH Web site. What kinds of resources are available and why would studying what is there help you in doing research or in assisting someone who is doing health services research?
  5. Videocasts are a relatively recent phenomenon on governmental Web sites. Watching individual videocasts can be time consuming. Visit the videocasting page to examine the topics. After seeing what is available, discuss why you might want to spend some time on the site viewing the videocasts and describe why watching the videocasts is useful to librarians.
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