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Director's Messages

Introducing the ODP’s New Strategic Plan – Prevention Research: Building a Healthier Future

I am pleased to present the ODP Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2019–2023, Prevention Research: Building a Healthier Future. This plan outlines how our efforts will help shape the landscape of prevention research over the next 5 years and presents the priorities for the Office:

The ODP holds a unique position at the NIH, serving as the lead program office focused on assessing, facilitating, and stimulating research in disease prevention and health promotion, and disseminating the results of this research to improve public health. As NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins notes in his foreword (PDF) to the new strategic plan, investigating the causes of and developing strategies to prevent illness and disability has been a core component of the NIH mission since its earliest days, and it remains a principal focus today. Accordingly, the plan highlights the ways in which ODP programs represent the building blocks for how the NIH approaches and prioritizes prevention research to ensure that the agency supports the highest quality prevention science, with the greatest possible effect.

The new ODP Strategic Plan also builds upon the accomplishments of our previous plan while adding new elements to address needs and opportunities in prevention research that may otherwise go unmet through other federal or private sector efforts. For example, the ODP will:

  • Be able to identify patterns and trends in the NIH prevention research portfolio by leveraging data made available through an innovative portfolio analysis approach created by the Office.
  • Continue to enhance the rigor and reproducibility of prevention research by further expanding its rich repository of training resources for prevention researchers around the world.

New activities that will cut across the ODP’s strategic priorities include an increased focus on:

  • Advancing the understanding of the leading causes of and risk factors for premature mortality and morbidity.
  • Strengthening research to address health disparities.
  • Promoting prevention-related dissemination and implementation research.

In addition, the Office is now including its focus on tobacco regulatory science and tobacco prevention research as a new strategic priority to reflect the need for continued research to reduce the impact of tobacco on public health.

While many causes of disease, disability, and premature death are already well-understood, challenges persist. There are still too many people getting sick and dying due to modifiable and preventable risk factors such as tobacco use, obesity, and hypertension. Moreover, life expectancy differs when looking across socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity, and that variability is often mediated by behavioral and metabolic risk factors. All of this points to the need for better evidence-based interventions to move research into practice and ultimately improve public health.

The ODP Strategic Plan was created with significant input from our colleagues and stakeholders across the NIH, the federal government, the broader biomedical research community, and the public. We are grateful for their insights, which helped us refine our priorities and outline our role in advancing prevention research. We look forward to continuing to work closely with all our stakeholders over the next 5 years. Together, we can foster discovery to improve public health and build a healthier future.

David M. Murray, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Prevention
Director of the Office of Disease Prevention