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Prevention Research at NIH

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The mission of ODP is to work with the NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) and other federal and non-federal partners for the development, coordination, and implementation of activities to increase the scope, support, public health impact, and dissemination of health promotion and disease prevention research supported by the NIH. The Office serves as the focal point for establishing NIH-wide goals and coordinating activities across all phases of prevention research.

The ODP serves as a liaison between the NIH ICs, other federal agencies, academic and scientific societies, national voluntary health agencies, the biomedical research community, the media, and the general public on matters pertaining to health promotion and disease prevention research. The Office is responsible for advising the NIH Director regarding health promotion and disease prevention research. The Office also provides overall guidance to the ICs on biomedical programs that seek to improve the nation’s health through research, training, knowledge translation, and public education.

The NIH Prevention Research Coordinating Committee (PRCC) serves as a venue for exchanging programmatic and scientific information on prevention research of interest to the NIH and its federal partners, as well as for planning and implementation of collaborative activities. ODP coordinates the activities of the PRCC. Almost every NIH IC and Office of the Director (OD) Office has a representative on the PRCC. A number of other Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies are also represented, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Defining Prevention Research at the NIH

The Prevention Research Coordinating Committee (PRCC) has worked to ensure that a definition of prevention research communicates the breadth and depth of prevention research funded by NIH while also retaining sufficient specificity to be of practical value. The following PRCC definition of prevention research reflects efforts to align these goals. However, it is important to recognize that individual Institutes and Centers may adapt the definition to best reflect their missions and the state of knowledge in their respective scientific fields.

Prevention research at the NIH encompasses research designed to yield results directly applicable to identifying and assessing risk, and to developing interventions for preventing or ameliorating high-risk behaviors and exposures, the occurrence of a disease, disorder, or injury, or the progression of detectable but asymptomatic disease. Prevention research also includes research studies to develop and evaluate disease prevention and health promotion recommendations and public health programs.

The NIH definition of prevention research includes the following categories of research:

  • Identification of modifiable risk and protective factors for diseases/disorders/injuries;
  • Studies on assessment of risk, including genetic susceptibility;
  • Development of methods for screening and identification of markers for those at risk for onset or progression of asymptomatic diseases/disorders, or those at risk for adverse, high-risk behaviors/injuries;
  • Development and evaluation of interventions to promote health for groups of individuals without recognized signs or symptoms of the target condition;
  • Translation of proven effective prevention interventions into practice;
  • Effectiveness studies that examine factors related to the organization, management, financing, and adoption of prevention services and practices; and
  • Methodological and statistical procedures for assessing risk and measuring the effects of preventive interventions.