Director's Messages

Spotlight on 2020

As I reflect on the historic nature of 2020, I’m proud of our staff’s contributions to support NIH’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and our diligent work to advance disease prevention and health promotion research. 

For example, due to the pandemic we transitioned the Pathways to Prevention (P2P) Workshop: Can Physical Activity Improve the Health of Wheelchair Users? to a virtual meeting rather than an in-person one. This was the first time we held a P2P workshop as an entirely virtual event, but we had strong participation and were able to accomplish our goals for the meeting.

I am pleased to share our Spotlight on 2020 annual report highlighting a few of the accomplishments our Office has achieved over the last year. The report summarizes key projects related to each of the ODP’s strategic priorities and outlines their potential impact on the health of communities across the United States.  

Over the past year, the ODP has:

  • Worked closely with NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices to support several new initiatives related to COVID-19 research.
  • Expanded our analysis of NIH’s investment in prevention research to better capture research projects conducted by investigators at all career levels.
  • Initiated a project to standardize the way research gaps in evidence-based clinical prevention are described and reported.
  • Provided training in prevention research methods to researchers at the NIH and across the larger prevention research community.
  • Developed two funding opportunity announcements to drive innovative and rigorous research to better measure, understand, and address multimorbidity.
  • Helped identify research opportunities to address the youth vaping epidemic.

Working together with our NIH colleagues and other partners, the ODP is committed to advancing NIH’s health promotion and disease prevention efforts highlighted in the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2016–2020. You can find specific connections between our projects and NIH objectives (PDF) throughout the report. You can also see the ODP’s year in numbers in the infographic (PDF) on the final page.

The ODP is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2021. As we commemorate everything the Office has accomplished over the past three-and-a-half decades, we also look forward to continuing to make progress on our strategic priorities and cross-cutting themes, with a particular focus on reducing health disparities.

We are currently working with our colleagues across the NIH to consider how best to increase intervention research to address the leading risk factors for death and disability, particularly in populations impacted by health disparities. Our portfolio analysis data indicate that fewer than 1 in 25 NIH prevention research projects include a randomized intervention to address a leading risk factor in a minority health or health disparities population. 

A critical part of reducing health disparities involves increasing intervention research that addresses leading risk factors for death and disability, many of which can be prevented, delayed, or caught and treated early.  

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