NIH Releases its 2016-2020 Strategic Plan

On December 16, 2015, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released its 2016-2020 strategic plan, Turning Discovery into Health. Oriented around four main objectives, the strategic plan provides a framework in which NIH will make decisions in pursuing its mission:

“…to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and to apply that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life and reduce illness and disability.”  

To carry out this mission, NIH strives to meet four goals:

  1. To foster fundamental creative discoveries, innovative research strategies and their applications as a basis for ultimately protecting and improving health
  2. To develop, maintain, and renew scientific and human and physical resources that will ensure the nation’s capability to prevent disease.
  3. To expand the knowledge base in medical science and associated sciences in order to enhance the nation’s economic well-being and ensure a high return on the public investment in research
  4. To exemplify and promote the highest level of scientific integrity, public accountability, and social responsibility in the conduct of science.

With the new strategic plan, NIH will focus on four essential and interdependent objectives:

Objective 1: Advance Opportunities in Biomedical research

This will include:

  • exploration of fundamental science
  • Discovery of new treatments and cures
  • Advancement of health promotion and disease prevention.

To meet this objective, NIH will support efforts to promote increased data sharing, to enhance the ability of scientists to pursue interdisciplinary studies, and to enable new types of partnerships.

Object 2: Foster Innovation by Setting NIH Priorities

NIH will continue and strengthen its commitment  to a transparent, evidence-based process that incorporates action oriented principles:

  • Enhance nimbleness needed to meet public health needs and capitalize on scientific opportunity, using new portfolio analysis tools
  • Incorporate burden of disease as an important, but not sole, factor
  • Take advantage of opportunities presented by rare diseases to advance research
  • Consider the value of permanently eradicating a disease

Objective 3: Enhance Scientific Stewardship

In promoting good stewardship of public resource, NIH will strive to:

  • Recruit and retain an outstanding biomedical research workforce
  • Enhance workforce diversity
  • Optimize approaches to inform funding decisions
  • Encourage innovation
  • Enhance impact through partnerships
  • Engage in proactive risk management practices

Objective 4: Excel as a Federal Agency by Managing for Results

NIH plans to build upon its tradition of excellence by:

  • Developing the science of science
  • Balancing outputs with outcomes
  • Conducting workforce analysis
  • Undertaking a continuous review of peer review
  • Evaluating steps to enhance rigor and reproducibility
  • Reducing administrative burden
  • Tracking effectiveness of risk management in decision making.

Download the full strategic plan from NIH for further explanation of each of these objective.