NICHD was established in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, with the support of Congress, to study the "complex process of human development from conception to old age."
In pursuit of its mission, NICHD conducts and supports laboratory research, clinical trials, and epidemiological studies that explore health processes; examines the impact of disabilit y and disease ; and sponsors training programs for scientists, health care providers, and researchers.
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. NICHD supports and conducts research to:
- Advance knowledge of pregnancy, fetal development, and birth to inform development of 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 .
- Contribute to the prevention and treatment of 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 improve 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 individuals and society. NICHD-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.
- 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. Medical rehabilitation research seeks to develop and improve techniques and technologies related to the quality of life and rehabilitation of people with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities.