Neuroscience Research at the NICHD

A full spectrum of basic, clinical, and translational research in the biomedical and behavioral neuroscience arenas

Since its founding as an entity to “encourage imaginative research into the complex processes of human development,” the NICHD has both supported and conducted research in the neurosciences. Initially, this work focused on examining problems of birth defects and intellectual and developmental disabilities. Today, the Institute’s neurosciences portfolio also includes researcher training and studies of the neural basis of language, neurochemical control of labor, neuroendocrine control of reproduction, and the pathophysiology of chronically injured nervous systems, to name just a few topics.

Broadly defined, neuroscience is the study of the brain and the nervous system. More specifically, neuroscience research encompasses many different arenas and topics, including: the anatomy of the brain and spinal cord; the cells within the nervous system and how they function; neural communication and how it works; how the nervous system is involved in and contributes to movement, the senses, perception, and cognition; how the nervous system interacts with other systems to influence reproductive health, behavior, and learning; disorders of the nervous system, including structural birth defects, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and learning disorders; injuries to the nervous system and how the body repairs itself.

With the NICHD’s broad mission of improving the health of children, adults, families, and populations across the lifespan, its research portfolio includes the full spectrum of neuroscience research—basic, clinical, and translational research in the biomedical and behavioral neuroscience arenas. Through its extramural Branches and Centers, which support neuroscience research and training, and its intramural Divisions, which conduct neuroscience research, the Institute devotes about one-fourth of its research and research training resources to the neurosciences. Some highlights from these efforts include (but are not limited to) the following:

Each year, NICHD staff who manage or conduct neuroscience research projects meet with other neuroscience researchers at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience—the nation’s largest organization of neuroscience researchers, scientists, physicians, and educators. In this forum, potential and current grantees and scientists can discuss projects, progress, and opportunities for support and collaboration with Institute staff who understand their perspectives. This year, the NICHD will be in booths 3515 and 3517 in the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting exhibit hall. Interested attendees should stop by the booth to learn more about the Institute’s portfolio in neuroscience research and training.

The NICHD Spotlight will feature short descriptions of supported neuroscience projects throughout the year as a way to highlight the Institute’s impressive neuroscience portfolio. Check the NICHD Home page frequently to learn more about these efforts.

To learn more about NICHD-supported research and training in the neurosciences, select one of the following links:


Originally Posted: November 14, 2008

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