National Institutes of Health (NIH), agency of the U.S. Public Health Service, with headquarters in Bethesda, Md. It was established initially in 1887 as a laboratory in the U.S. Marine Hospital on Staten Island in New York City, and was given its present name in 1948. The NIH conducts and supports biomedical research into the causes, cure, and prevention of disease. It maintains its own laboratories and awards grants and contracts to universities and other private research facilities. Separate national institutes (27 in all) function in specific areas such as cancer; heart, lung, and blood diseases; dental and craniofacial research; child health and human development; allergy and infectious diseases; aging; human genome research; drug abuse; mental health; and biomedical imaging and bioengineering. It also maintains the National Library of Medicine.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.