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NIH R15 Grant Research Areas Listed by NIH Institute


Updated: 3/19/2019

AREA grants support small-scale research projects at educational institutions that provide baccalaureate or advanced degrees for a significant number of the Nation's research scientists, but that have not been major recipients of NIH support. The goals of the program are to (1) support meritorious research, (2) expose students to research, and (3) strengthen the research environment of the institution.

Listed below are the AREA program research topics of particular interest to each Institute/Center. Contacts are listed in section VII of all active R15 opportunities.. Applicants are encouraged to contact the person listed for the particular Institute(s) or Center(s) with research interests relevant to the applicant's proposed topic for additional scientific program information and for pre-application guidance. General contacts can be found at /grants/r15-scientific-research-contacts.htm.

National Institute on Aging (NIA or AG)

The NIA is interested in, and has responsibilities for, aging research that includes fundamental studies of biological processes, including studies of aging at the molecular, genetic, organelle, cellular, organ, and organ system levels; the interaction of aging and diseases of aging; biomedical and psychosocial factors in maintaining health and effective functioning in the middle and later years, relevant social and behavioral relationships; and research that broadens the base of knowledge underlying adequate health services for the aging and the aged. The NIA is interested in normal physiological and biochemical changes with aging, involving areas such as immunology, cognition, neurobiology, endocrinology, nutrition, and exercise physiology, as well as clinical diseases and disorders of aging such as Alzheimer's disease, impaired sleep, sensory and motor disorders, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, falls, and urinary incontinence. The NIA also has responsibility for research concerned with the biological, social, psychological, cultural, epidemiological, demographic and economic factors that affect both the process of growing old and the status and roles of older people in society. Under this broad mandate, health and wellbeing are viewed as the outcome of complex biological, physiological, medical, psychological, and socioenvironmental processes.


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA or AA)

The NIAAA supports basic and clinical research to develop new knowledge in a wide range of areas relevant to alcohol abuse problems and alcohol addiction. Areas of research include molecular, physiological, and behavioral mechanisms leading to pathological drinking behavior and alcohol-induced organ damage; identification of genes and gene-environment interactions that contribute to susceptibility; health services and outcomes research; and clinical, behavioral, and epidemiological studies that will lead to more effective diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of alcohol use disorders and associated alcohol-related medical conditions. Basic and clinical research on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders is also supported. The NIAAA encourages alcohol-relevant research in any of the basic science disciplines, epidemiology, social and behavioral sciences, computer modeling, and health economics.


National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID or AI)

NIAID supports basic and applied research to better understand, treat, and prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases, with the goal of developing new therapies, vaccines, diagnostic tests, and other technologies. Research areas include microbiology and infectious diseases, AIDS and AIDS -related research, immunology, allergy, transplantation, and biodefense.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS or AR)

The mission of NIAMS is to support research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases; the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research; and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases.  NIAMS also conducts and supports basic research on the normal structure and function of bones, joints, muscles, and skin. Basic research involves a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including immunology, genetics, molecular biology, structural biology, biochemistry, physiology, virology, and pharmacology. Clinical research includes rheumatology, orthopaedics, dermatology, metabolic bone diseases, heritable disorders of bone and cartilage, inherited and inflammatory muscle diseases, and sports and rehabilitation medicine.


National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB or EB)

The mission of the NIBIB is to improve health by promoting fundamental discoveries, design and development, and translation and assessment of technological capabilities in biomedical imaging and bioengineering, enabled by relevant areas of physics, chemistry, mathematics, materials science, information science, and the computer sciences. The NIBIB plans, conducts, fosters, and supports an integrated and coordinated program of research and research training that can be applied to a broad spectrum of biological processes, disorders and diseases, and organ systems. The NIBIB coordinates with the biomedical imaging and bioengineering programs of other agencies and NIH institutes to support imaging and engineering research with potential medical applications and facilitates the transfer of such technologies to medical applications. The NIBIB supports hypothesis-, design-, technology- or problem-driven research relating to the discovery, design, development, translation and assessment of new knowledge in biomedical imaging and bioengineering. This research may utilize, for example, an organ or disease as a model system for development purposes. The research should be assigned to another Institute or Center if it is primarily applicable to an organ, disease or mission of that entity. Alternatively, several Institutes or Centers may collaborate on research of mutual interest.


National Cancer Institute (NCI or CA)

The NCI is the Federal Government's principal agency for cancer research and control. Programs of the NCI focus on: (1) cancer etiology including laboratory, field, and epidemiologic and biometric research on the cause and natural history of cancer and means for preventing cancer, as well as studies on the mechanisms of cancer induction and promotion by chemicals, viruses, and environmental agents; (2) cancer biology and diagnosis research in the areas of cell biology, immunology, molecular biology, developmental biology, biochemistry, genetics, and pathology; (3) cancer metastasis research in the areas of invasion, cell migration, progression and metastasis, and the studies focusing on tumor-host interactions; (4) cancer treatment research in the areas of drug development, biological response modifiers, and radiotherapy development, including diagnostic imaging and clinical trials for curing or controlling cancer; (5) early detection and diagnosis research, including studies of promising biomarkers; and (6) cancer prevention and control research, development, technology transfer, demonstration, and education and information dissemination programs to expedite the use of new information relevant to prevention, detection, and diagnosis of cancer and pretreatment evaluation, treatment, rehabilitation, and continuing care of cancer patients.


National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD or HD)

The general mission of NICHD is to ensure that every person is born healthy and wanted, that women suffer no harmful effects from reproductive processes, and that all children have the chance to achieve their full potential for healthy and productive lives. In pursuit of these goals, NICHD supports a broad spectrum of research on normal and abnormal human development, including contraception, fertilization, pregnancy, childbirth, prenatal and postnatal development, and childhood development through adolescence. The mission areas also include research on intellectual and developmental disabilities and rehabilitation medicine.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCIH or AT)

The mission of NCCIH is to determine, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary health approaches, and their roles in improving health and healthcare.

NCCIH’s strategic plan includes three scientific objectives: 1) Advance fundamental science and methods development; 2) Improve care for hard-to-manage symptoms; and 3) Foster health promotion and disease prevention. NCCIH also has cross-cutting objectives to enhance the complementary and integrative health research workforce, and to disseminate objective evidence-based information on complementary and integrative health interventions. In pursuit of these objectives, NCCIH supports research on mind and body interventions, practices, and disciplines; research on natural products; and studies of “real world” patterns and outcomes of use of complementary therapies. Studies may range from basic, through translational, clinical, epidemiological and health services. However, as specified in NOT-AT-15-005, NCCIH will not accept R15 applications that include clinical trials.


National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD or DC)

The NIDCD supports biomedical and behavioral research related to the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech and language. Basic and clinical studies are encouraged of genetic, molecular, cellular, physiological, biochemical, and behavioral aspects of function in health and disease. The NIDCD also supports research concerned with disease prevention, health promotion and the special biomedical and behavioral problems associated with communication impairments and disorders.


National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR or DE)

The mission of the NIDCR is to improve dental, oral, and craniofacial health of the American people through research, research training, and the dissemination of health information. We accomplish our mission by performing and supporting basic, translational, and clinical research on the etiology, epidemiology, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of dental, oral and craniofacial disorders and diseases. Our diverse portfolio supports research in oral microbiology and infectious diseases such as caries and periodontal diseases; oral viral infections and diseases; immunology and immunotherapy; oral complications of systemic conditions, salivary gland biology and dysfunction such as Sjogrens's Syndrome; head and neck cancers, oral health disparities; dental practice based research; epidemiology; behavioral and social sciences research; orofacial pain and temporomandibular joint disorder; mineralized tissue physiology; dental materials and biomaterials; tissue engineering and regenerative medicine; and developmental biology, dysmorphologies, genetics and genomics.


National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK or DK)

The NIDDK supports a broad range of fundamental and clinical investigation related to numerous diseases affecting the public health, including diabetes; obesity; endocrinology and endocrine disorders including osteoporosis; kidney, urologic and blood diseases; and digestive and liver diseases and nutrition. These include genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, polycystic kidney disease and inborn errors of metabolism; autoimmune diseases such as type 1diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease; and infectious diseases such as hepatitis and food borne illness.


National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA or DA)

The research programs of the NIDA are devoted to increasing the understanding of the causes, progression and consequences of drug abuse, as well as to developing effective prevention and treatments. Research is supported on the complex neurobiological, behavioral, clinical, social and environmental components of drug abuse and addiction. In addition, NIDA supports research on mechanisms, processes, and problems (e.g., studies of cognitive processes and general addictive processes) that may ultimately contribute to the understanding of drug abuse and addiction, although it does not involve examination of an abused drug or use of a drug-abusing sample. Studies of HIV/AIDS, HCV and other STDs and drug abuse are also of interest. Drugs studied in NIDA-supported projects include psychomotor stimulants (cocaine, methamphetamine), opiates/opioids, hallucinogens, designer drugs, marijuana/cannabinoids, nicotine and other tobacco components, inhalants, abused prescription drugs, and over-the-counter products. Research involves basic and clinical neurobiology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, pharmacology, genetics, immunology, epidemiology, medication development, behavioral treatment, and behavioral sciences, as well as disciplines in clinical research, social and community research, health services, and prevention interventions.


National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS or ES)

Human health and human disease result from three interactive elements: environmental factors, genetic susceptibility, and age. The mission of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is to reduce the burden of human illness and dysfunction from environmental causes by further understanding each of these elements and how they interrelate. Environmental health comprises those aspects of human health, including quality of life, that are determined by physical, chemical, biological, social and psychosocial factors in the environment. Elements within the latter categories include socioeconomic status, education, and cultural variables, which can be considered as both individual and community-level influences.


The NIEHS supports research and training focused on identification, assessment, and mechanism of action of potentially harmful agents in the environment. Research results form the basis for preventative programs for environmentally-related diseases and for action by regulatory agencies. The NIEHS, thus, has responsibility for providing knowledge to assist in societal decisions related to the impact of physical and social exposures on human health. This responsibility mandates efforts toward a thorough understanding of the early manifestations and mechanisms of human disease due to exposure to hazardous environmental conditions, development of more accurate and rapid methods to predict and assess toxicity, enhancement of prevention and intervention strategies, and translation of research findings into information that can be used to improve public health.

National Eye Institute (NEI or EY)

The mission of the NEI is to gain new knowledge concerning the eye and visual system in health and disease. The NEI supports research and research training aimed at developing a more complete understanding of normal tissue and normal visual processes so that a more complete understanding may be gained of the abnormal processes that lead to diseases of the eye and disorders of vision. The major objectives of NEI-supported research are to discover the most appropriate and effective means to prevent, treat, and rehabilitate visual disorders, and to determine the best means to disseminate timely research findings and information that will promote visual health. Both basic and clinical research is funded under the following major NEI programs: Retinal Diseases; Corneal Diseases; Lens and Cataract; Glaucoma and Optic Neuropathies; Strabismus, Amblyopia, and Visual Processing; Low Vision and Blindness Rehabilitation; Ocular Genetics; Ocular Infection, Inflammation and Immunology; Myopia and Refractive Error; and Collaborative Clinical Research. Within each program, research ranges from attempts to elucidate the fundamental biological processes that underlie disease to the development and clinical testing of new diagnostic and therapeutic techniques.

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS or GM)

The mission of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences is to support basic, biomedical research that contributes to fundamental cellular and physiological principles. General areas of interest include cell biology, biophysics, structural genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, genetic mechanisms, developmental biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, trauma and burn, anesthesiology, and pharmacology. The molecular, genetic, functional, and structural understanding of biological molecules, their interactions and their organization, as well as the discovery of approaches to their control will contribute to understanding mechanisms for a variety of diseases. NIGMS also supports research in the fields of mathematics, physics, computer science, and engineering that are applicable to its mission. Research whose overall goal is to gain knowledge about a specific organ or organ system or the pathophysiology, treatment, or cure of a specific disease or condition will, in most cases, be more appropriate for another Institute or Center. 

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI or HL)

The NHLBI supports basic and clinical research pertaining to the structure, function, and diseases of the cardiovascular system, lungs, blood and blood vessels, and sleep disorders. The NHLBI also supports research in stem cell biology and transplantation, transfusion medicine, and blood resources.

The NHLBI carries out its mission through a number of research programs that provide support for projects ranging from studies at the molecular level to whole body studies in man and animals. Examples of research areas supported by the NHLBI include atherosclerosis, hypertension, cerebrovascular disease (directed at the dependent variable of blood, heart, or blood vessel), coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular diseases, arrhythmias, heart failure, and shock, congenital and rheumatic heart diseases, cardiomyopathies and infections of the heart, circulatory assistance, lung cell and molecular biology, chronic obstructive lung diseases, pediatric pulmonary diseases, cystic fibrosis, sleep-disordered breathing, asthma, fibrotic and immunologic lung diseases, acute respiratory failure, pulmonary vascular diseases, HIV-associated lung disorders and bone marrow suppression, bleeding and clotting disorders, disorders of the red blood cell such as sickle cell disease and Cooley's anemia, bone marrow failure syndromes, and blood resources.

National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI or HG)

NHGRI will support the development of: resources; methods and technologies that will accelerate research in understanding the structure of genomes; understanding the biology of genomes; understanding the biology of disease; advancing the science of medicine; and improving the effectiveness of healthcare. NHGRI will also support research in several cross-cutting areas, including the societal implications of genomics research and clinical implementation of genomics, bioinformatics, and technology development.

In general, NHGRI supports studies that provide generalizable methods and knowledge.  Applications for studies relevant only to a particular disease or organ system should be directed to the appropriate Institute or Center. NHGRI strongly encourages potential applicants to contact program staff in the early stages of developing your application. The contact information for the three scientific programs are:


National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH or MH)

The mission of NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure. Fundamental to our mission is the proposition that mental illnesses are brain disorders expressed as complex cognitive, emotional, and social behavioral syndromes. Progress depends on advances in basic behavioral science and fundamental neuroscience, in addition to clinical science. To this end, the NIMH supports and conducts research into the fundamental processes of brain and behavior, translational studies linking basic neuroscience discoveries to mental disorders, intervention studies, and investigations to improve the delivery of mental health services in diverse settings. The NIMH is also committed to supporting research to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and reduce the burden of illness in infected individuals through behavioral interventions, and to understand, prevent, and treat the consequences of HIV disease of the CNS.

National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD or MD)

The NIMHD supports scientific research to improve minority health and eliminate health disparities, with projects spanning a broad range of disciplines from pre-clinical, clinical and translational research to social, behavioral, environmental, health services and policy research. Projects must focus on minority and/or health disparity populations, which include Blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, and rural populations. The focus can be on minority or health disparity populations as a whole, a single minority or health disparity population, or a subgroup within a population. Studies examining diseases or conditions that happen to be associated with greater morbidity or mortality in health disparity populations without the proposed work itself being directly focused on examining specific risk or protective factors that underlie observed disparities, including but not limited to higher disease prevalence, earlier onset, faster progression, poorer treatment response, and poorer health outcomes, are not a priority for support by NIMHD. Studies that utilize model or in vitro systems should examine risk or protective factors that underlie observed differences in health outcomes between health disparity populations and the general population.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS or NS)

The NINDS supports basic, translational and clinical research on healthy and diseased brains, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. Examples of specific research areas supported by NINDS include: development, neurotrophic factors, cognition, epilepsy, stroke, cerebrovascular disorders, neuropathic pain, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular disorders, brain tumors, autism, and genetic disorders of the nervous system.

National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR or NR)

The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) supports clinical, basic, and translational research to build the scientific foundation for clinical practice, prevent disease and disability, manage and eliminate symptoms caused by illness, and enhance palliative and end-of-life care. In doing so, NINR promotes and improves the health of individuals, families, and communities across the lifespan, in a variety of clinical settings and within diverse populations.  NINR’s goal is to enhance nursing science and health care by integrating the biological and behavioral sciences, applying new technologies, promoting health equity, and developing scientists of the future.

National Library of Medicine (NLM or LM) 
NLM supports basic and applied research in biomedical informatics and bioinformatics. NLM’s research funding centers on understanding data, information and knowledge – their nature, forms and uses – in the domains of health care and basic biological sciences. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to: information processing and knowledge representation, including natural language processing, decision support, intelligent systems and human-computer interaction; retrieval and integration of data from very large or heterogeneous data sets; linkages between clinical and genomic information to benefit health care; efficient management and use of health-related and scientific information; biomedical applications of high performance computing and communication.

Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP or OD)
ORIP’s mission is to support basic infrastructure (biological resources and materials, training for veterinarian scientists, renovation and instruments) that contributes to an efficient and effective conduct of human health-related research. ORIP makes awards for support of projects which contribute to improvement of the capability of resources to serve the biomedical research community, and that do not fall within the categorical (disease specific) interest of a single institute or center. ORIP has interests in applications that emphasize translational research projects and resources that develop and enhance animal models of human disease, which can be utilized to better understand the pathobiology and the cellular and molecular mechanisms that are involved in the development and progression of human diseases. Models include, but are not limited to rodents, non-human primates, aquatic organisms such as zebrafish, invertebrates such as Drosophila, tissues and cells in culture, as well as mathematical and computer simulations. Research proposals can include studies that generate, characterize or preserve models of human diseases applicable to the research interests of two or more categorical NIH Institutes/Centers.