NICHD reorganizes extramural program

New division of extramural research created to foster interdisciplinary research

Alan Guttmacher, M.D., Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) announced a number of changes to streamline the institute’s organizational structure and accelerate the exchange of scientific ideas.

The reorganization is informed by an extensive scientific visioning process, in which more than 700 leaders from the scientific, research, patient, and consumer communities, along with NICHD staff, identified major scientific opportunities in the next decade across the institute’s mission.

Under the reorganization, a single Division of Extramural Research was established.  Phased out were three of the institute’s four centers: the Center for Population Research, the Center for Developmental Biology and Perinatal Medicine and the Center for Research for Mothers and Children.

“The reorganization positions the NICHD to develop new collaborations and relationships that can help fast-track discovery and promote the exchange of scientific ideas,” Dr. Guttmacher said.  “The restructuring makes it easier to advance transdisciplinary research collaborations.”

One NICHD center remains after the reorganization, the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research.

Most of the branches that were once in the former centers have also undergone name changes, to better reflect their current scientific portfolios and future directions.

“The branches’ portfolios have evolved over time,” Dr. Guttmacher said.  “The changes more accurately reflect each branch’s functions.”

Within the new Extramural Division are 14 branches and two offices:

  • Child Development and Behavior Branch
  • Contraceptive Discovery and Development Branch
  • Developmental Biology and Structural Variation Branch
  • Fertility and Infertility Branch
  • Grants Management Branch
  • Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Branch
  • Maternal and Pediatric Infectious Disease Branch
  • Obstetric and Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics Branch
  • Office of Committee Management
  • Office of Extramural Policy
  • Pediatric Growth and Nutrition Branch
  • Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branch
  • Population Dynamics Branch
  • Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch
  • Scientific Review Branch

The Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch and the Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branch are new branches created to support research in scientific areas of public health importance that were identified during the visioning process.

Dr. Catherine Y. Spong, M.D., recently appointed as Associate Director for Extramural Research, will head the Division of Extramural Research.

In addition, the Office of Health Equity was established within the Office of the NICHD Director.  This office will oversee research efforts to better meet the health needs of underserved populations and eliminate health disparities.  Also established within the Office of the NICHD Director was the Office of Global Health, which will oversee international research efforts.


About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute’s Web site at


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