NIAID Role in Research

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).

Areas of Study at NIAID


NIAID is working to better understand HIV and how it causes disease, find new tools to prevent HIV infection, develop new and more effective treatments for HIV-infected people, and find a cure.

Infectious Diseases

NIAID conducts and supports research on nearly 300 infectious agents and investigates the biological properties of these pathogens and the immune system’s responses to them. Findings from this research are vital to NIAID efforts to create vaccines, drugs, and diagnostic tools to better diagnose, prevent, and treat infectious diseases.

Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation

NIAID supports basic and clinical research to increase our understanding of the causes and mechanisms that lead to the development of allergic and immunologic diseases and to expand knowledge that can be applied to improving techniques of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

NIAID Accomplishments

A photot of a vial of the NIAID Zika Virus Investigational DNA Vaccine
Credit: NIAID

A vial of the NIAID Zika Virus Investigational DNA Vaccine, taken at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center’s Pilot Plant in Frederick, Maryland.

Selected NIAID Science News Highlights of 2017

NIAID laboratories and NIAID-funded researchers have made many notable scientific advances, bringing us closer to much-needed vaccines and treatments, and expanding our knowledge of rare conditions and disorders. See examples of how public investment in biomedical research can advance science and benefit human health.

Advancing Worldwide Health

Global Research

NIAID global research helps to protect the United States against infectious disease threats and to improve the health of millions of people around the world, promoting international economic and political stability.

Biodefense & Related Programs

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’s biodefense research is integrated into its larger emerging and re‐emerging infectious diseases portfolio that uses sophisticated genomic and proteomic platforms focused on developing broad‐spectrum therapies effective against entire classes of pathogens.

Neglected Tropical Diseases

NIAID has a robust program of research devoted to better understanding, preventing, and treating Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). Studies conducted and supported by NIAID have led to important new discoveries about the microbes that cause NTDs, the identification of targets for potential new drugs and vaccines, and the development of strategies for controlling organisms that transmit NTD-causing agents to humans.



Innovations that Improve Lives

Immune System Research

An important area of research focus for NIAID is the immune system, the complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by foreign invaders such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. Insights gained from basic immunology research also lays the groundwork for treatment of immune-related disorders including allergic diseases and auto-immune disorders.


Vaccine research has long been a cornerstone of NIAID research. Effective vaccines have contributed enormously to improvements in public health worldwide. Research supported by NIAID has led to new or improved vaccines for a variety of serious diseases.

Antimicrobial (Drug) Resistance

Over time, many infectious organisms have adapted to the antimicrobial drugs, such as antibiotics, designed to kill them. To address this growing problem, NIAID is funding and conducting research on many aspects of antimicrobial (drug) resistance, including basic research on how microbes develop resistance, development of new and faster diagnostics, and clinical trials designed to find new vaccines and treatments effective against drug-resistant microbes.

Genomics & Advanced Technologies

NIAID is dedicated to the study of advanced technologies and research fields such as genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics. These studies hold great promise for developing new diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines to treat and prevent infectious and immune-mediated diseases.

Vector Biology

Vector-borne diseases have a significant impact on global public health. NIAID conducts and supports basic and translational research to better understand vector biology and behavior and to develop products that can help prevent the spread of vector-borne infectious diseases.

Responding to Research Needs

Research Networks & Collaborations

Addressing complex public health issues requires the combined efforts of government agencies, academic institutions, private-sector companies, and nonprofit organizations. NIAID collaborates with industry and academia to advance research on infectious and immunologic diseases; to develop and test new methods of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment; and to accelerate the translation of research findings into medical products.

Research Funded by NIAID

NIAID supports research at external academic and research institutions through funding opportunities including grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements. Decades of NIAID-funded research has helped further the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of many of the world’s most intractable and widespread conditions in the areas of allergy, immunology and infectious diseases.

Research Conducted at NIAID

NIAID conducts cutting-edge science in its own laboratories and offers first-rate training and fellowships for students and postdocs. Through this work, NIAID is able to offer resources, tools, and services developed in our labs to the general scientific community for the advancement of biomedical research.