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Learn about NIH

The Nation’s biomedical research institution

Building 1

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is the nation’s medical research institution. Our mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability worldwide.

NIH is made up of 27 Institutes and Centers (ICs), each with a specific research focus including particular diseases or body systems. Most ICs have two major divisions:

  • An extramural division which provides funding to universities and research institutions worldwide to support research, training, and health communications.
  • An intramural division where scientists, trainees, and staff work on NIH campuses advancing the research, training, and communication goals of the IC.

You can learn more about the NIH, current initiatives, and the work of our ICs by visiting

The NIH Intramural Research Program

The Intramural Research Program (IRP) is the internal research arm of the NIH. IRP scientists, trainees, and fellows work in a collaborative research environment using cutting-edge tools to perform interdisciplinary research from the bench to the bedside. The IRP is well-positioned to quickly capitalize on new scientific opportunities and can rapidly adjust priorities to meet emergency health threats such as the recent Covid-19 outbreak.

NIH IRP campuses

The main NIH campus is in Bethesda, MD, 10 miles from Washington, DC. The main campus houses the Office of the Director (OD), the Office of Intramural Research (OIR), and the Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE), which oversees NIH-wide research training. IC research facilities, offices, and institutional resources are spread across more than 300 acres, in over 75 buildings, on the Bethesda campus. There are additional NIH facilities close to the main campus in Maryland, as well as other locations across the country:

NIH IRP leadership, staff, and trainees

The Intramural Research Program in each IC is led by a Scientific Director (SD) who works closely with the Clinical Director to coordinate basic, translational, and clinical aspects of the research program. ICs also have a training director and training office responsible for organizing programs and providing additional mentorship for their trainees. OITE works closely with the IC training offices to support intramural trainees and fellows.

Leadership in research groups is provided by Principal investigators (PIs). Senior leaders in the group can include staff scientists, research fellows, and clinical fellows. Most NIH research groups host summer interns, postbacs, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows for short- and long-term training experiences. Research training is supplemented by extensive programming to support our trainees and fellows in developing as leaders in a variety of STEM and healthcare careers.

Take a virtual tour of the NIH Bethesda campus

The tour, available in English and Spanish, provides a dynamic, interactive, online experience where you can learn more about NIH. Guided tour stops provide an overview of NIH’s mission, people, research, and facilities.
Be sure to watch OITE Director, Sharon Milgram's videos to learn how our trainees contribute to the NIH mission.

NIH Virtual Tour