Policy ForumResearch Agenda

Opportunities for Research and NIH

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Science  01 Jan 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5961, pp. 36-37
DOI: 10.1126/science.1185055

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The mission of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is science in pursuit of fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to extend healthy life and to reduce the burdens of illness and disability. The power of the molecular approach to health and disease has steadily gained momentum over the past several decades and is now poised to catalyze a revolution in medicine. The foundation of success in biomedical research has always been, and no doubt will continue to be, the creative insights of individual investigators. But increasingly those investigators are working in teams, accelerated by interdisciplinary approaches and empowered by open access to tools, databases, and technologies, so a careful balance is needed between investigator-initiated projects and large-scale community resource programs. For both individual and large-scale efforts, it is appropriate to identify areas of particular promise. Here are five such areas that are ripe for major advances that could reap substantial downstream benefits.