The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the world’s largest
biomedical research agency, with a 75-year record of responding to the nation’s
key medical challenges. Today, medical science is entering a revolutionary
period marked by a shift in focus from acute to chronic diseases, rapidly
escalating health care costs, a torrent of biological data generated by the
sequencing of the human genome, and the development of advanced high-throughput
technologies that allow for the study of vast molecular networks in health
and disease. This unique period offers the unprecedented opportunity to identify
individuals at risk of disease based on precise molecular knowledge, and the
chance to intervene to preempt disease before it strikes. Conceptually, this
represents the core scientific challenge of the coming century. The NIH is
committed to the discoveries that will change the practice of medicine as
we know it in order to meet this challenge. The NIH Roadmap constitutes an
important vehicle for generating change—a most critical element of this
plan is the reengineering of the national clinical research enterprise. This
reinvention will call for the transformation of translational clinical science
and for novel interdisciplinary approaches that will advance science and enhance
the health of the nation.
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