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Areas of Research Supported by NICHD

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In pursuit of its mission, the NICHD offers fellowships, career development awards, and institutional training grants in areas relevant to normal and abnormal human development, including: contraception, fertilization, pregnancy, childbirth, prenatal and postnatal development; childhood development through adolescence; intellectual and developmental disabilities; and rehabilitation medicine.

If you have questions about projects within a specific research area, you can find an NICHD program officer (PDF - 293 KB) to contact with questions.

Specific research priorities of DER branches and NCMRR are available at NICHD Research Priorities.

Developmental Biology and Perinatal Medicine

Complex biological processes, which determine health and well-being, begin even before conception, and fetal and early childhood development set the stage for physical, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes throughout life. A major NICHD priority is to advance fundamental and clinical knowledge about maternal health and problems of child development.

This research includes (but is not limited to):

  • Basic research on the biochemical, molecular biology, genetic, and cellular mechanisms of early development. For more information, visit the Developmental Biology and Structural Variation Branch (DBSVB) homepage.
  • Biomedical, biobehavioral, clinical, and translational research to prevent or ameliorate intellectual and developmental disabilities, including (but not limited to) such conditions as intellectual disability, Fragile X, autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), and Down syndrome. For more information, visit the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Branch (IDDB) homepage.
  • Basic, clinical, and translational research on maternal health, pregnancy, fetal well-being, labor and delivery, newborn screening, and the developing child. For more information, visit the Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch (PPB) homepage.

Maternal and Child Health

A major priority of the NICHD is to conduct research to address maternal and child health in the United States and worldwide.

This research includes (but is not limited to):

  • Basic, translational, and clinical research on serious threats to health and quality-of-life, including gestational diabetes, obesity and overweight, mechanisms of cognition and learning, growth retardation, HIV/AIDS, and congenital infections and other diseases. For more information, visit the Pediatric Growth and Nutrition Branch (PGNB) homepage.
  • Applied research on the psychological, psychobiological, language, behavioral, and educational development of children. For more information, visit the Child Development and Behavior Branch (CDBB) homepage.
  • Advanced clinical research to understand the effects and effectiveness of pharmaceuticals on maternal and child health. For more information, visit the Obstetric and Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics Branch (OPPTB) homepage.
  • Research into the epidemiology, natural history, pathogenesis, transmission, treatment, and prevention of HIV infection and its complications in infants, children, adolescents, pregnant women, mothers, women of childbearing age, and the family unit as a whole. For more information, visit the Maternal and Pediatric Infectious Disease Branch (MPIDB) homepage.
  • Research and research training in pediatric trauma, injury, and critical illness across the continuum of care, including prevention, treatment, management, interventions, and outcomes of physical and psychological trauma, short- and long-term consequences of traumatic experiences, and science of pediatric emergency and critical care medicine. For more information, visit the Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branch (PTCIB) homepage.

Contraception, Reproduction, and Population Research

Understanding reproductive health and biology for both men and women is crucial to improving health and quality-of-life around the world. Improved knowledge about human population dynamics is also essential to successful and sustainable communities.

This research includes (but is not limited to):

  • Basic and clinical research in reproductive health to improve diagnosis and treatment of reproductive health conditions, such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, infertility, and pelvic floor and pain disorders, among others. For more information, visit the Fertility and Infertility (FI) Branch and/or the Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch (GHDB) homepage.
  • Efforts to develop safe, effective, inexpensive, reversible, and acceptable contraceptive methods. For more information, visit the Contraception Research Branch (CRB) homepage.
  • Studies to improve understanding of the causes and consequences of population size and distribution changes, including fertility, migration and immigration, population diversity, and family functioning. For more information, visit the Population Dynamics Branch (PDB) homepage.

Medical Rehabilitation Research

Medical rehabilitation research is essential to developing scientific and technical knowledge needed to enhance health, productivity, independence, and quality-of-life for people with disabilities.

This research includes (but is not limited to):

  • Studies to elucidate the scientific underpinnings of clinical rehabilitation and to understand the mechanisms of recovery and adaptation
  • Applying technological advances in engineering and bioengineering to improve the human-environment interface and to restore or enhance an individual's functional capabilities through assistive technologies, such as prosthetics, wheelchairs, and biomechanical devices
  • Basic and clinical research to understand the underlying mechanisms of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and stroke, and to assess medical rehabilitation therapies and interventions for people with these conditions
  • Research on pediatric critical care and rehabilitation to improve outcomes for children who are survivors of trauma, congenital anomalies, neonatal asphyxia, infections, septic shock, and other less common, but still devastating childhood injuries and illnesses

For more information, visit the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) homepage.​​

​Related Resources

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