NIH: Office of Disease Prevention



Find Information on Current Funding Opportunity Announcements

Office of Extramural Research (OER)

The NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts is the official publication for NIH medical and behavioral research grant policies, guidelines and funding opportunities. Researchers can use this site to search for funding opportunities or sign up for weekly email updates on NIH-supported grants and contracts.

This section provides examples of current research activities at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is not intended to be a comprehensive list. For information about ongoing research on tobacco use, please see the Research Activities section of the Tobacco Use Research Highlights.


Divisions of Prevention Research at the NIH Institutes and Centers

Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research (DEPR) at NIAAA

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

The DEPR seeks to reduce alcohol-related morbidity and mortality and other alcohol-related problems and consequences through the integration and application of epidemiology and prevention science.

Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research (DESPR) at NIDA

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

The DESPR promotes epidemiology, services, and prevention research to understand and address the range of problems related to drug abuse to improve public health. It is divided into three branches: the Prevention Research Branch, the Epidemiology Research Branch, and the Services Research Branch. The mission of the Prevention Research Branch is to improve the Nation’s public health status through supporting a program of basic, clinical, and services research on the development, testing, and translation of prevention interventions targeting the initiation of drug use, the progression to abuse and dependence, and the transmission of HIV infection among diverse populations and settings.

Extramural Research Centers Supported by the NIH

NIAAA-Funded Alcohol Research Centers

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

The NIAAA has established a nationwide program of Alcohol Research Centers. The program complements and is interrelated with all other research support mechanisms and scientific activities that investigate the causes, diagnosis, treatment, control, prevention, and consequences of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. The Alcohol Research Centers provide long-term support (typically 5 years) for interdisciplinary research that focuses on particular aspects of alcohol abuse, alcoholism, or other related problems. This program encourages outstanding scientists from many disciplines to provide a full range of expertise, approaches, and advanced technologies for developing knowledge in these areas. A primary goal of each NIAAA-funded Center is to become, through excellence in scientific research, a significant regional or national research resource. In addition, each Center affords research training opportunities for individuals from various disciplines and professions. For more information on training programs, please see the Training Opportunities and Continuing Medical Education section.

Transdisciplinary Research and Methodology Infrastructure for Prevention

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

The NIDA helps to foster the next generation of research through its Core Centers of Excellence (CCE) grant program. The CCE grant program is designed to integrate and transform ongoing drug abuse and addiction research leading to the creation of new research directions (P30), and to support innovative, multidisciplinary research infrastructure that is integrated and synergistic, and that can serve as a national resource for drug abuse research (P50). Examples of Centers focused on transdisciplinary research and methodology include:

  • Center for Drug Abuse Research Translation (P50)
    This Center includes three integrated research projects on the biologically based facets of personality and their relationship to risk for drug abuse. Using neurochemical and electrophysiological techniques in rats, as well as neuroimaging techniques in humans, this Center studies the basic neural mechanisms that mediate these different risk-related facets. The goal is to translate these findings into prevention applications that target these multiple risk-related facets in small-scale efficacy and pilot prevention trials.
  • Center for Prevention and Treatment Methodology (P50)
    The overarching goal of this Center is to improve quantitative methods for prevention and treatment research on substance use, HIV, and related disorders. The Center has been developing new research designs for clinical trials that help optimize interventions and better approximate normal clinical practice, as well as developing new analytic approaches and tools to maximize the use of longitudinal data.
  • Center for Prevention Implementation Methods for Drug Abuse and Sex Risk Behavior (P30)
    This Center seeks to accelerate research using system science methods. Specifically, social network analysis, systems engineering, and computational modeling approaches are investigated to address methodological gaps in the translation of evidence-based prevention interventions into practice.

Other Research Activities

Collaborative Research on Addiction at the NIH (CRAN)

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)

The NIDA, the NIAAA, and the NCI released two Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) to promote the goals of CRAN, formerly known as “functional integration” of addiction research at the NIH. Its mission is to provide a strong collaborative framework for enabling the NIDA, the NIAAA, and the NCI to pool resources and expertise, creating synergies in addiction science, addressing new research opportunities, and meeting the public’s health needs. The current FOAs are for administrative supplements and competitive revision applications to promote research on new and/or under-recognized opportunities addressing polysubstance use and co-morbidity. Many existing research projects focus on only one substance (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, heroin), yet epidemiological and clinical research indicates that polysubstance use is common, as are co-morbid substance use disorders. Basic research on behavioral and neural mechanisms reveals overlapping substrates and consequences of exposure to diverse substances. Despite this knowledge, many investigator-initiated projects do not take full advantage of opportunities to address scientific issues related to polysubstance use and co-morbidity. Learn more about the FOAs here: RFA-DA-14-014 and PA-13-275.

Screening and Brief Intervention for Prevention (SBIP) at NIDA

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Prevention research at NIDA includes SBIP research that focuses on screening and identifying people who are at risk for drug use and drug-related risk behaviors and providing a brief intervention to prevent and/or reduce risk behaviors. NIDA-funded research studies include diverse populations and settings, and varied delivery formats, including in-person and technology-based approaches. Examples of funded SBIP studies include:

  • The Family Check-Up, a family-centered SBI model for early childhood.
  • SBI in teen courts to prevent youth substance use.
  • Brief interventions to prevent substance use, sexually transmitted disease/HIV risk, and other risky behaviors in truant youth, homeless young adults, and female victims of rape.
  • SBI to prevent drug use in low-income clinic populations in the United States and Mexico.
  • SBI to prevent marijuana use among college students who are current users.
  • Brief intervention integrated with social network counseling to prevent substance use among racial minority urban adolescent patients in a primary care setting.
  • Adaptation and testing of school-based brief intervention for substance-using Native youth.

Underage Drinking Research Initiative (UDRI)

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

The goal of the UDRI is to better understand the factors that compel youth to begin drinking, continue drinking, and progress to harmful use, abuse, and dependence. The research initiative aims to understand and address underage drinking and to help improve prevention and treatment interventions. Since launching in 2004, the UDRI has added to our understanding of youth drinking by developing a number of research-based publications including the Underage Drinking Screening Guide, Parenting To Prevent Childhood Alcohol Use, and Office of the U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Program

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

The FASD program sponsors projects on prevention, treatment of women with alcohol use disorders, improving diagnosis of FASD, increasing understanding of the effects of alcohol on the unborn child, and developing effective interventions to mitigate the health effects on those prenatally exposed to alcohol.

Alcohol and Drug-Related Birth Defects Research at the NICHD

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

Factors that affect pregnancy and fetal development are central to the NICHD’s research. The Institute supports and conducts research to understand the ways in which exposure to alcohol and drugs may affect pregnancy, a developing fetus, and development throughout the lifespan. Some of this research is done in partnership with other NIH Institutes whose sole focus is on alcohol and drugs, such as the NIAAA and the NIDA, while other efforts are handled solely by NICHD organizational units. Within this context, current NICHD research includes:

  • Effects of alcohol consumption on fetal development and infant health
  • Effects of exposure to different classes of drugs on fetal development and on later development.
  • Mechanisms by which alcohol causes birth defects.
  • Effects of alcohol on maternal health, including placental effects.
  • Patterns of alcohol consumption and drug use during pregnancy.
  • Effects of maternal alcohol consumption on stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome.

Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS)

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

The APIS provides detailed information on a wide variety of alcohol-related policies in the United States at both state and federal levels. Detailed, state-by-state information is available for the 35 policies listed on the APIS website. The APIS also provides a variety of informational resources of interest to alcohol policy researchers and others involved with alcohol policy issues.

Research To Improve Health and Longevity of People With Severe Mental Illness Meeting

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

The NIMH Office for Research on Disparities and Global Mental Health and Division of Services and Intervention Research convened this meeting to assess the state of the science in preventing and treating medical co-morbidities in people with severe mental illness (SMI) and identify the most critically needed research to reduce premature mortality in this vulnerable group. The 11.4 million people in the United States with SMI carry a heavy disease burden, in addition to having a mental illness. They die 11–32 years prematurely from largely preventable co-morbid medical conditions—e.g., heart disease, diabetes, cancer, pulmonary disease, and stroke—which occur more frequently and have earlier onset in this population. Low rates of prevention, detection, and treatment further add to these health disparities. While effective approaches to these common conditions and their health risk factors exist for the general population, evidence is needed on how to bring these effective strategies to people with SMI. During the meeting, NIH-funded researchers presented key findings on health interventions shown to be effective in the general population for drug abuse, for prevention of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and for tobacco cessation, as well as how these interventions could be adapted to meet the needs of people with SMI.

Training Opportunities and Continuing Medical Education

Prevention Research Training Programs at NIDA

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

The NIDA supports two prevention research training programs, at Yale University and the Pennsylvania State University. The Yale University postdoctoral prevention research training program focuses on an ecological framework for substance use/abuse and related behaviors that emphasizes developmental, neurobiological, environmental, and cultural contexts. The Pennsylvania State University program trains pre- and postdoctoral fellows toward producing prevention scientists who apply the most appropriate and cutting-edge methodology to research on improving and disseminating prevention interventions.

U.S.–Mexico Drug Abuse Prevention Research Fellowship

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

The NIDA U.S.–Mexico Drug Abuse Prevention Research Fellowship provides a unique opportunity for Mexican researchers to obtain postdoctoral training with a NIDA-supported U.S. mentor. Prevention Research Fellows benefit from an intensive 1-year research training experience designed to enhance the fellows’ ability to conduct independent research upon return to Mexico. Applicants and their U.S. mentor may propose to conduct their research in any area of drug abuse prevention research, such as prevention intervention research, prevention services research, prevention methodology, or drug abuse prevention as HIV/AIDS prevention. For more details and information on how to apply, please see the U.S.–Mexico Drug Abuse Prevention Research Fellowship website.