NIH: Office of Disease Prevention


Strategic Plan

The Office of Disease Prevention (ODP) Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2014–2018 (PDF - 3.35 MB) charts new directions for the Office over the next five years. Developed with input from a variety of stakeholders, the plan includes activities to carry out the ODP's mission and vision, strengthen existing programs, and develop new initiatives to advance the prevention research agenda at the NIH and improve the public health.

The plan is centered around six strategic priorities:


Systematically monitor NIH investments in prevention research and assess the progress and results of that research.

Spotlight on Progress

PACT/Taxonomy Project

The ODP created a prevention research taxonomy and accompanying protocol to enable accurate and standardized classification of grant abstracts. The taxonomy is a framework for classifying research and includes nearly 150 non-mutually exclusive topics grouped into eight categories.

The ODP also developed a team-coding approach to apply the taxonomy to research grant abstracts. Custom software, called the Prevention Abstract Classification Tool (PACT), was created to record individual and team coding and calculate inter-rater reliability. A short-term goal is to identify positive and negative examples of prevention studies to train a machine-learning algorithm to objectively characterize the NIH prevention research grant portfolio on a number of dimensions of interest.

Read more about our progress in the June 2015 Director's Message.


The ODP can play an important role in characterizing the portfolio of prevention research funded by the NIH. Currently, NIH prevention research is identified based on a broad definition of prevention that does not provide sufficient detail to classify studies into categories of interest. New methods are needed that identify characteristics of studies—such as topic area, study design, population studied—and summarize the findings in a meaningful way for program planning and reporting. This more specific characterization of the prevention research portfolio, along with portfolio analysis tools, would enable identification of patterns and trends, as well as research areas that may benefit from targeted efforts by the NIH Institutes and Centers. Such categorization also would enable assessment of the progress and changes in prevention research over time.


The objectives supporting Strategic Priority I focus on the development of a taxonomy for prevention research that can be used to analyze the broader NIH portfolio. The ODP also will ensure that this process appropriately aligns with other efforts at the NIH, such as the Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization process. Furthermore, the ODP will work closely with colleagues in the NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis to apply existing approaches and develop new tools to improve our understanding of NIH prevention research investments. Using these tools, the ODP will perform portfolio analyses to characterize the NIH prevention research portfolio and develop products (e.g., reports) that can be shared with collaborators within and outside of the NIH. The ODP will examine historical and prospective information using the new portfolio analysis tools to analyze the progress of NIH prevention research.

  • Objective I.1: Establish a taxonomy for prevention research that the ODP can apply to analyze the NIH prevention research portfolio.
  • Objective I.2: Develop, test, and implement portfolio analysis tools to classify NIH awards based on the taxonomy for prevention research.
  • Objective I.3: Develop and implement a process to regularly assess the progress and results of NIH investments in prevention research.
Learn more about Strategic Priority I


Identify prevention research areas for investment or expanded effort by the NIH.


Spotlight on Progress

The ODP is working with U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) External Website Policy liaisons at the NIH to describe Institute and Center (IC) activities that address research gaps identified by the Task Force as having insufficient evidence to make a recommendation for or against a clinical preventive service. The goal is to identify areas in need of additional research, and coordinate with the ICs to address evidence gaps. The ODP will use a similar approach with the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) External Website Policy to close prevention research gaps in community settings.
Learn more about the ODP’s partnership with the USPSTF External Website Policy.

The ODP partners with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) to support national health initiatives, including Healthy People 2020. The ODP serves on the Healthy People Federal Interagency Workgroup and provides advice on numerous Healthy People activities to ensure that NIH input is provided.

The ODP hosted two Pathways to Prevention (P2P) workshops in 2014. These workshops identified research needs regarding the use of opioids in the treatment of chronic pain and for myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. For each workshop, a rigorous assessment of the available scientific evidence was conducted, and experts in the field presented their findings to an independent panel. Final reports from both workshops have been published.

Read more about our progress in the August 2015 Director's Message.

The ODP can assist NIH Institutes and Centers by identifying prevention research needs and gaps. In this process, the ODP should make use of the variety of prevention research data sources available, including, but not limited to, NIH portfolio analysis and reports from other federal agencies and task forces. Regular engagement with stakeholders such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF), and the extramural prevention research community also will inform the identification of prevention research areas for investment or expanded effort by the NIH. In addition, the ODP will work closely with colleagues at the NIH to promote a research agenda that examines a variety of issues including health disparities and social determinants of health, as well as the role of the environment in disease prevention, and improves health across the life course.


The objectives supporting Strategic Priority II include working with stakeholders to identify needs for prevention research, a comparison of those needs with the current NIH portfolio, and collaboration with the NIH Institutes and Centers to identify opportunities in prevention research for additional investment. Results of these efforts will be compiled and shared with others at the NIH to suggest areas that warrant further study; the ODP also will use these results to guide its own co-funding decisions. Strategic Priority II relies on building collaborations between the ODP and NIH Institutes and Centers, federal agencies, nonfederal task forces and other organizations that routinely conduct systematic evidence reviews (e.g., USPSTF, CPSTF, Cochrane Collaborative, Institute of Medicine), existing evidence-based public health initiatives (e.g., Healthy People), and other stakeholders to identify, promote, and address needs in prevention research.

  • Objective II.1:Work with stakeholders to identify needs in prevention research.
  • Objective II.2: Compare those needs to the current NIH portfolio to identify gaps in prevention research (i.e., those areas that are not being addressed or have insufficient funding).
  • Objective II.3: Coordinate activities across the ODP and with NIH Institutes and Centers to identify prevention research gaps and opportunities for investment or expanded effort.
Learn more about Strategic Priority II


Promote the use of the best available methods in prevention research and support the development of better methods.

Spotlight on Progress

Prevention Research Expertise Survey (PRES) Tool

The PRES tool has been created to identify experts in prevention science methods. Software was developed to allow the ODP to collect scientists’ names, contact information, and resumes, as well as to request that these scientists identify their level of expertise in a variety of prevention science methods and content areas. The data the ODP will collect from this survey will be used to support a web-based tool that the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) will use to identify scientists with expertise in specific prevention science methods and content areas. Based upon this information, the CSR can extend invitations to scientists to serve on the review panels that match their expertise.

The overall goal is to share this system with review staff in other Institutes and Centers at NIH to help improve the quality of prevention research at the NIH. This reviewer information collection system is automated, and approval for this process has been provided by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).


The best available methods in prevention research should be utilized to move the state of the science forward. Increased awareness of and training in the use of newer and more efficient approaches for research design, intervention development, measurement, and analysis are needed to improve both the quality and success of prevention research applications submitted to the NIH. Opportunities exist for the ODP to support the development of these methods and to encourage training in their use for a variety of audiences, including NIH program and review staff, intramural investigators, and the extramural community.


The objectives supporting Strategic Priority III include the development of a compendium of prevention science tools that focus on methods, measures, and analytic techniques. The ODP will identify training opportunities for NIH program and review staff and extramural investigators on methods research to foster better informed decisions and higher quality science in prevention research. The ODP will work with federal agencies that have interests in prevention science methods to share resources and materials. The ODP will work with the NIH Center for Scientific Review to identify experts in prevention science methods who could serve on NIH study sections. In collaboration with NIH Institutes and Centers, the ODP will develop Funding Opportunity Announcements to promote innovative research designs, new tools, and analytic techniques to help move the field of prevention science forward. The ODP also will work with experts in the field of methodology to identify and build consensus around best practices in prevention science.

  • Objective III.1: Develop a list of existing NIH and other federal resources pertaining to prevention science methodology.
  • Objective III.2: Provide training in prevention science methods to NIH program and review staff and to extramural investigators.
  • Objective III.3: Develop NIH Funding Opportunity Announcements that encourage innovative and improved approaches to prevention science.
  • Objective III.4: Work with stakeholders to identify and disseminate "best practices" in prevention science methods.
Learn more about Strategic Priority III


Promote collaborative prevention research projects and facilitate coordination of such projects across the NIH and with other public and private entities.

Spotlight on Progress

The ODP helped plan a number of trans-NIH workshops related to obesity, physical activity, and screening, and worked to strengthen the prevention component of several larger NIH and HHS workshops. The ODP led the development of two 2015 funding opportunity announcements and FAQs on the design and testing of interventions for health-enhancing physical activity. More than 70 applications were received, and two have already been funded. The ODP provided co-funding for a wide range of prevention research efforts across the NIH, CDC, and HHS. The ODP supported meetings, workshops, and conferences on such topics as neurocognitive influences on teen driving, Alzheimer's disease-related dementias, self-regulation of appetite, multilevel interventions for hard-to-reach populations, and the economics of prevention, as well as the Institute of Medicine Forum on Promoting Children's Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Health. The ODP co-funded three projects for Healthy People 2020 and four projects on physical activity and childhood obesity. The ODP helped develop and edit the National Nutrition Research Roadmap, participated in the development of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and is serving a lead role in coordinating NIH input on the review process for the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The ODP also provided input on the NIH-wide strategic plan.


All of the NIH Institutes and Centers support prevention research in their own areas, which has helped to create a robust and diverse research portfolio that addresses a range of important scientific questions. Even so, enhanced collaboration and coordination among NIH Institutes and Centers, as well as with other research partners, could result in better outcomes and more efficient use of resources. The ODP will encourage coordination of prevention research across the NIH, throughout government, and with the private sector to identify common or cross-cutting topic areas and research questions, create an environment of collaboration, and improve complementary and collaborative efforts to enhance the return on investment for prevention research at the NIH. Collaborations can engage a range of public or private stakeholder organizations in identifying and working on research priorities.


The objectives supporting Strategic Priority IV will set the stage for collaborative research efforts in prevention research within the NIH, across government entities, and with the private sector. Examples of successful research collaborations will be sought and used as models for future efforts. Existing collaborative relationships will be continued or expanded, and new relationships will be forged with public and private entities that can partner on prevention research efforts. These activities will lead to a coordinated development of funding opportunities in partnership with NIH Institutes and Centers as well as with other organizations, which will strengthen the prevention research portfolio to advance scientific knowledge in order to improve public health.

  • Objective IV.1: Identify, document, and share best practices for research collaborations within the NIH and with other stakeholders.
  • Objective IV.2: Establish or promote infrastructures and processes to foster research coordination and collaboration across the NIH and with other public and private entities.
  • Objective IV.3: Coordinate NIH Funding Opportunity Announcements to address areas of need in prevention research.
Learn more about Strategic Priority IV


Identify and promote the use of evidence-based interventions and promote the conduct of implementation and dissemination research in prevention.

Spotlight on Progress

The ODP has developed a Community Resources section on its website to inform a variety of audiences, including community planners, health care and public health professionals, policymakers, and the general public. This section includes a list of evidence-based programs and practices—which are sponsored by government agencies, non-profit groups, and private-sector organizations—with the potential to impact the health and well-being of millions of Americans. The Community Resources section also highlights news and announcements, upcoming events, educational materials, and resources from the NIH and its federal partners.


Part of the mission of the ODP is to disseminate the results of high-quality, evidence-based disease prevention research; foster the use of evidence-based interventions in practice; and promote the further development of implementation and dissemination research in prevention. Opportunities exist for the ODP to facilitate these important activities. To expedite the identification and use of evidence-based prevention interventions, the ODP will collaborate with multiple partners and audiences, including NIH Institutes and Centers, service providers, and community organizations, to promote the dissemination of evidence-based disease prevention strategies and interventions with the potential to impact public health.


The objectives supporting Strategic Priority V will focus on the development of a web-based portal that provides access to evidence-based resources and best practices organized by different categories such as the patient population studied and research design. To ensure that credible information is provided, studies included must have undergone an independent systematic review by a credible government or privatesector agency. The ODP will work with stakeholders to promote the dissemination of best practices at the individual, organizational, community, and policy levels. To facilitate this process, the ODP will develop messages for stakeholders to use when communicating with various audiences about best practice models and effective interventions. The ODP also will work with NIH Institutes and Centers to develop strategies to promote implementation and dissemination research that examines both intervention-level features (e.g., core components, recruitment and retention strategies, training and implementation manuals/products, adaptation guides) and healthcare and community systems-level features (e.g., decision-making, selection, adoption, adaptation, management, financing, sustainability planning).

  • Objective V.1: Identify evidence-based interventions for disease prevention and present them in an organized structure.
  • Objective V.2: Enhance partnerships to promote the dissemination of evidence-based interventions for disease prevention.
  • Objective V.3: Enhance partnerships to promote research on dissemination and implementation of evidence-based interventions in prevention.
Learn more about Strategic Priority V


Increase the visibility of prevention research at the NIH and across the country.

Spotlight on Progress

To assist prevention researchers in designing and conducting their studies, the Office of Disease Prevention has developed a new web portal, Resources for Researchers. This portal combines prevention-related information across various NIH websites with newly created tools and resources in one online repository tailored to the needs of the prevention research community. The tools and resources include instructions for finding NIH-funded research projects; directions about applying for NIH funding; a listing of prevention-related study sections at the NIH; and an innovative database that is manually curated by experts, keyword-searchable, and categorized by research topics. This database includes recent, high-quality studies testing prevention interventions across a range of health conditions. Additional sections that will be helpful to researchers are currently in development for this web portal.

The ODP also uses social media to disseminate prevention-related information, including news about innovative prevention research sponsored by the NIH and its federal partners. For more information about the ODP, follow the office on Twitter @NIHprevents External Website Policy.


The ODP will play a central role in disseminating information to broaden the scientific and public health impact of the NIH prevention research portfolio. The ODP can enhance prevention research by disseminating NIH prevention research and resources, strengthening partnerships to improve information dissemination, and gathering input and feedback from stakeholders including researchers, program and policy stakeholders, and the general public.


The objectives supporting Strategic Priority VI include the development of resources for the research community, the public, and other stakeholders. For example, the ODP will expand its website content by posting a list of NIH staff engaged in prevention research activities to promote networking and collaboration; explore the use of social media tools such as Facebook and blogs; create an e-newsletter about NIH prevention research activities and accomplishments; and optimize its website for mobile use to increase accessibility by stakeholders anywhere, anytime, and on any device. In addition, the ODP will promote the outcomes of all of its strategic planning efforts to ensure results reach the intended audiences. The ODP also will identify and develop a stakeholder community that includes the NIH, the HHS, and other public and private organizations and work with that community to advance communications, collaborations, and other actions to help disseminate information about prevention research.

  • Objective VI.1: Increase the availability of information about prevention research through the use of traditional and digital communication tools.
  • Objective VI.2: Increase communications and collaborations with stakeholders to coordinate communications about disease prevention.
  • Objective VI.3: Support Strategic Priorities I–V via the ODP website and other communication tools.
Learn more about Strategic Priority VI

Cover of American Journal of Public Health, January 2015 IssueThe ODP strategic plan was highlighted in the January 2015 issue of the American Journal of Public Health in the article, Enhancing the Quality of Prevention Research Supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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