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Strategic Plan 2000
NIAID: Planning for the 21st Century

Cornerstones of the Strategic Plan


Widespread use of vaccines to prevent infectious diseases is one of the greatest public health achievements of this century. Basic science and applied research, fueled by NIAID investments, are creating unprecedented opportunities to expand vaccine discovery and development within the next 5 years. NIAID plans for vaccine research are focused in four areas: (1) vaccine discovery, design, and development; (2) development of vaccines against pathogens associated with emerging and potentially re-emerging global health problems; (3) overcoming obstacles to development of vaccines against pathogens of high public health importance that have eluded preventive intervention; and (4) vaccine discovery and development in newly identified areas of need.

Vaccine Discovery, Design, and Development

Understanding human immunity, analyzing the molecular dynamics of binding complexes during host/pathogen interactions, and utilizing the pathogen and host gene expression profiles will be increasingly important for the discovery, design, and development of future vaccines. Translation from discovery to development will require early recognition of practical needs, such as single-dose, temperature-stable formulations delivered by novel routes (skin, nose).


  • Facilitate the discovery, design, and development of vaccines through expanded knowledge of the molecular and immunologic interplay between host and pathogen.

  • Foster collaborative interactions among various disciplines to accelerate progress in vaccine discovery, design, and development.

Pathogens Associated with Emerging and Re-emerging Global Health Problems

Pathogen emergence and re-emergence are influenced by a variety of factors. Despite the breadth of potential needs, the basic research requirements associated with the development of vaccines against emerging infections are similar.


  • Support broad and stable research programs that will rapidly expand vaccine development for emerging and re-emerging pathogens associated with global health problems.

Overcoming Obstacles to Vaccines for Pathogens of High Public Health Importance

nasal spray being given to a child
Nasal spray delivery of a flu vaccine during a clinical trial.

Scientific, technical, theoretical, and political obstacles have hampered the development of several vaccines against diseases of high public health importance. Expanding knowledge of the host-pathogen relationship and the genetic organization of malaria and tuberculosis has resulted in renewed enthusiasm that vaccines may control these diseases. In the United States, other equally important pathogens, for which vaccine development efforts have been unsuccessful, have been identified for renewed efforts.


  • Re-address vaccine development strategies for diseases of greatest health importance using the expanded knowledge gained by novel technologies and microbial pathogenesis.

  • Pursue alternative strategies and address existing barriers, such as modes of vaccine delivery, immunopotentiation, and reactivation, in diseases of high global health importance.

  • Pursue programs in neglected areas of national and international needs.

Newly Identified Areas of Vaccine Need

Expanding the scientific base for developing therapeutic vaccines for chronic diseases and exploring opportunities to improve health through vaccines against non-traditional health targets are important components of the NIAID plan. To be successful, scientific opportunity and public health need to merge in three areas: (1) management of chronic diseases of infectious and non-infectious origin; (2) control of autoimmune diseases through tolerogenic and non-tolerogenic approaches; and (3) special circumstances, such as the development of vaccines against potential bioterrorism agents.


  • Explore opportunities for vaccine development in less traditional areas, including therapeutic vaccines for the management of chronic diseases; vaccines for the control of autoimmune diseases; and vaccines for special circumstances of public health concern, such as bioterrorism.

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Last Updated August 29, 2001