Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

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Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
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Agency overview
Formed 1962 (1962)
Agency executive
Parent agency National Institutes of Health
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The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) is one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. It funds and conducts research on topics related to the health of children, adults, families, and populations.[1] Some research topics include:

  • Reducing infant deaths
  • Improving the health of women, men, and families
  • Understanding reproductive health and fertility
  • Learning about growth and human development
  • Examining, preventing and treating problems such as birth defects, intellectual disabilities, and developmental disabilities
  • Enhancing well-being of persons through the lifespan through optimal rehabilitation research


pre-2013 NICHD Logo
pre-2008 NICHD Logo

At the request of President John F. Kennedy, the U.S. Congress established the NICHD in 1962. President Kennedy's sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, had been an advocate for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities with help from the family pediatrician Robert E. Cooke, pushed for research that focused on disorders pertaining to human development. In 1961 Dr. Cooke chaired a task-force on child health and growth; the task-force's report was given to congress, which then established the NICHD the following year.

The Institute was renamed after Shriver by Congress in December, 2007.[2]


The mission of the NICHD is 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.[3]


In 2006, the NICHD issued US $903 million in grants and spent US$359 million on direct operations, which includes intramural research conducted on NIH campuses.[4] As of July 2012, the director of the NICHD is Alan E. Guttmacher, M.D., who has held this position since 2010.

The NICHD supports extramural research at research institutions,universities, and other organizations and conducts research through its intramural research program on the NIH campus, in Bethesda, Maryland and at other affiliated facilities.


Division of Intramural Research (DIR)[edit]

The DIR is closely concerned with the biological, neurobiological, and medical aspects of normal and abnormal human development. The DIR is divided into basic research, which is more laboratory oriented (many labs use animal models) and clinical research, which involves human patients.

DIR Basic Research[edit]
  • Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch
  • Endocrinology and Reproduction Research Branch
  • Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biophysics
  • Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Neurophysiology
  • Laboratory of Cellular and Synaptic Neurophysiology
  • Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology
  • Laboratory of Gene Regulation and Development
  • Laboratory of Integrative and Medical Biophysics
  • Laboratory of Mammalian Genes and Development
  • Laboratory of Genomic Integrity
  • Laboratory of Molecular Genetics
  • Laboratory of Molecular Growth Regulation
  • Laboratory of Physical and Structural Biology
  • Section on DNA Replication, Repair, and Mutagenesis
  • Section on Nervous System Development and Plasticity
  • Test Lab 94
DIR Clinical Research[edit]
  • Bone and Extracellular Matrix Branch
  • Developmental Endocrinology Branch
  • Heritable Disorders Branch
  • Laboratory of Clinical Genomics
  • Laboratory of Comparative Ethology
  • Laboratory of Developmental and Molecular Immunity
  • Reproductive Biology Medicine and Biology Branch
  • Perinatal Research Branch

Notable accomplishments[edit]

  • Since its founding, the NICHD has funded research that has contributed to a decline in infant mortality of over 70%.
  • The rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome has fallen 50% since an NICHD "Safe to Sleep" initiative began.
  • Transmission of HIV from an infected mother to the fetus has dropped from 25% to 2% as a result of an NICHD collaboration.
  • NICHD scientists developed a vaccine for Haemophilus Influenzae B (Hib), which was a leading cause of mental retardation, reducing its incidence by 99% and nearly eliminating the disease.
  • Many other advancements in fertility, contraception, mental retardation, and developmental biology[5]
  • The NICHD oversees the implementation and coordination of the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act, the goal of which is to improve pediatric therapeutics through preclinical and clinical drug trials that lead to drug labeling changes. The Pediatric Trials Network is the main mechanism by which these studies are conducted.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°0′12″N 77°6′16″W / 39.00333°N 77.10444°W / 39.00333; -77.10444