Disciplines & Approaches
Disciplines and approaches include research areas that cut across multiple diseases and conditions such as basic immunology, diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and medical countermeasures to prevent and treat the many infectious, immune-mediated, and allergic diseases. NIAID also supports research in many Diseases & Conditions.
Bacteria, fungi, and other microbes evolve over time and can develop resistance to antimicrobial drugs. Microbes naturally develop resistance; however, using antibiotics too often in humans and animals and in cases where antibiotics are not an appropriate treatment can make resistance develop more quickly.
NIAID supports research and early development of medical countermeasures against terrorist threats from infectious diseases, radiation exposure and chemical threats to the civilian population.
NIAID funded projects are generating large, diverse, complex data sets, and our research communities have become a data-intense enterprise. There is a critical need to transform these data into knowledge to more fully understand pathogen transmission and evolution, pathogen-host interactions, host immune response, and infectious and immune-mediated disease pathogenesis, as well as to develop new and improved diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.
Research fields, such as genomics, proteomics, and systems biology, are creating a wealth of information about infectious and immune-mediated diseases. Through the use of advanced technologies, researchers are developing a clearer understanding of pathogens, disease, and host immunity.
NIAID conducts and supports basic and applied research to better understand, treat, and ultimately prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases. For more than 60 years, NIAID research has led to new therapies, vaccines, diagnostic tests, and other technologies that have improved the health of millions of people in the United States and around the world. NIAID is one of the 27 Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from infection.
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), such as dengue, lymphatic filariasis, trachoma, and leishmaniasis, are called "neglected," because they generally afflict the world's poor and historically have not received as much attention as other diseases. NTDs tend to thrive in developing regions of the world, where water quality, sanitation, and access to health care are substandard. However, some of these diseases also are found in areas of the United States with high rates of poverty.
Vaccines stimulate the immune system to produce immune responses that protect against infection. Vaccines provide a safe, cost-effective and efficient means of preventing illness, disability and death from infectious diseases.
Vectors, including insects and ticks, are capable of transmitting infectious disease pathogens among humans or between animals and humans. Diseases spread by vectors such as mosquitoes are a serious public health problem, affecting nearly half of the world’s population, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). NIAID is committed to conducting and supporting research to better understand the biology of vectors, how they transmit diseases, and how they find and interact with human hosts, with the goal of developing new and improved ways to prevent the transmission of diseases.
Women face unique health problems related to many NIAID mission areas—specifically, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and autoimmune disorders. Many infectious and autoimmune diseases affect female populations disproportionately. For example, genital herpes from herpes simplex virus 2 is nearly twice as common among women as among men. Likewise, women account for more cases of chlamydia, lupus, and scleroderma than do men.