The NICHD was established by President John F. Kennedy, with the support of congress, in 1962 to study the "complex process of human development from conception to old age."
In pursuit of its broad mission, the NICHD conducts and supports laboratory research, clinical trials, and epidemiological studies that explore health processes; examines the impact of disabilities, diseases, and variations on the lives of individuals; and sponsors training programs for scientists, health care providers, and researchers to ensure that NICHD research can continue.
NICHD research programs incorporate the following concepts:
- Events that happen prior to and throughout pregnancy, as well as during childhood, have a great impact on the health and well-being of children and adults. The Institute supports and conducts research to:
- Advance knowledge of pregnancy, fetal development, and birth for developing strategies that prevent maternal, infant, and childhood mortality and morbidity;
- Identify and promote the prerequisites of optimal physical, mental, and behavioral growth and development through infancy, childhood, and adolescence; and
- Contribute to the prevention of and treatment for intellectual and developmental disabilities.
- Human growth and development is a life-long process that has many phases and functions. Much of the research in this area focuses on cellular, molecular, and developmental biology to build understanding of the mechanisms and interactions that guide a single fertilized egg through its development into a multicellular, highly organized adult organism.
- Learning about the reproductive health of women and men and educating people about reproductive practices is important to both individuals and societies. Institute-supported basic, clinical, epidemiological, behavioral and social science research in the reproductive sciences seeks to:
- Develop knowledge that enables women and men to overcome problems of infertility and to regulate their fertility in ways that are safe, effective, and acceptable for various population groups.
- Understand the causes and consequences of reproductive behavior and population change.
- Developing medical rehabilitation interventions can improve the health and well-being of people with disabilities. Research in medical rehabilitation seeks to develop and improve techniques and technologies related to the quality of life and rehabilitation of individuals with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities resulting from diseases, disorders, injuries, or variations.
Select a link on the left to learn more about the NICHD.