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National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Mission | Important Events | Legislative Chronology | Director | Programs | Photo Gallery

Mission

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) provides global leadership for a research, training, and education program to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, and blood diseases and enhance the health of all individuals so that they can live longer and more fulfilling lives.

The NHLBI stimulates basic discoveries about the causes of disease, enables the translation of basic discoveries into clinical practice, fosters training and mentoring of emerging scientists and physicians, and communicates research advances to the public. It creates and supports a robust, collaborative research infrastructure in partnership with private and public organizations, including academic institutions, industry, and other government agencies. The Institute collaborates with patients, families, health care professionals, scientists, professional societies, patient advocacy groups, community organizations, and the media to promote the application of research results and leverage resources to address public health needs. The NHLBI also collaborates with international organizations to help reduce the burden of heart, lung, and blood diseases worldwide.

Important Events in NHLBI History

June 16, 1948—President Harry S. Truman signed the National Heart Act, creating and establishing the National Heart Institute (NHI) in the Public Health Service (PHS) and the National Advisory Heart Council.

August 1, 1948—Surgeon General Leonard A. Scheele, by General Circular No. 36, Organization Order No. 14, established the NHI as one of the National Institutes of Health to assume responsibility for heart research, training, and administration as set forth in the National Heart Act. Intramural research projects in cardiovascular diseases and gerontology, conducted elsewhere in NIH, were transferred to the NHI. The director of the NHI was designated to lead and coordinate the total PHS heart program.

September 8, 1948—The National Advisory Heart Council held its first meeting. Dr. Paul Dudley White served as the Council's Executive Director.

January 1949—Cooperative research units were established at the University of California, University of Minnesota, Tulane University, and Massachusetts General Hospital. Pending completion of the NHI's own research organization and availability of further research facilities, the units were jointly financed by the NIH and the institutions.

July 1, 1949—The NHI intramural research program was established.

The Heart Disease Epidemiology Study at Framingham, Massachusetts, was transferred from the Bureau of State Services, PHS, to the NHI.

July 6, 1953—The Clinical Center admitted its first patient for heart disease research.

July 1, 1957—The first members of the NHI Board of Scientific Counselors began their terms. The Board was established in 1956 "to provide advice on matters of general policy, particularly from a long-range viewpoint, as they relate to the intramural research program."

February 19, 1959—The American Heart Association and the NHI presented a report to the Nation on "A Decade of Progress Against Cardiovascular Disease."

October 16, 1968—A Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Dr. Marshall W. Nirenberg, chief of the NHI Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics, for discovering the key to deciphering the genetic code. Dr. Nirenberg was the first NIH Nobel laureate and the first Federal employee to receive a Nobel Prize.

October 26, 1968—The NHI received the National Hemophilia Foundation's Research and Scientific Achievement Award for its "medical leadership ... tremendous stimulation and support of research activities directly related to the study and treatment of hemophilia."

November 10, 1969—The NHI was renamed the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI), reflecting expansion of functions.

February 18, 1971—In his Health Message to the Congress, President Richard M. Nixon identified sickle cell anemia as a high-priority disease target and called for increased Federal expenditures. Subsequently, the Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) Assistant Secretary for Health and Scientific Affairs assigned the NIH and NHLI as the lead agencies responsible for coordinating a National Sickle Cell Disease Program.

June 12, 1972—HEW Secretary Elliot Richardson approved a nationwide program of hypertension information and education. The secretary appointed the Hypertension Information and Education Advisory Committee, chaired by the Director of NIH, and the Interagency Working Group, chaired by the Director of the NHLI, to implement the national effort.

July 1972—The NHLI initiated the National High Blood Pressure Education Program (NHBPEP).

July 14, 1972—Secretary Richardson approved a reorganization of NHLI, elevating the Institute to Bureau status within the NIH.

June 25, 1976—The NHLI was renamed the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), reflecting an expansion in blood-related activities within the Institute.

November 1979—The results of the Hypertension Detection and Follow-up Program, a clinical trial initiated by the NHLBI in 1971, provided evidence that systematic, aggressive treatment of hypertension saves lives.

October 1981—The NHLBI Beta-Blocker Heart Attack Trial demonstrated benefits to those in the trial who received propranolol compared with the control group.

October 1983—The NHLBI Coronary Artery Surgery Study results demonstrated that mildly symptomatic patients with coronary artery disease can safely defer coronary artery bypass surgery until symptoms worsen.

January 1984—The NHLBI Lipid Research Clinics Coronary Primary Prevention Trial established conclusively that reducing total blood cholesterol reduces the risk of coronary heart disease in men at increased risk because of elevated cholesterol levels. Each 1% decrease in cholesterol was shown to reduce heart attack risk by 2%.

April 1985—Phase I of the NHLBI Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction Trial found that the new thrombolytic agent recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) is approximately twice as effective as streptokinase in opening thrombosed coronary arteries.

October 1985—NHLBI-supported researchers Michael S. Brown and Joseph L. Goldstein received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries concerning the regulation of cholesterol metabolism.

November 1985—The NHLBI initiated the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP).

June 1986—Results of the NHLBI Prophylactic Penicillin Trial demonstrated the efficacy of prophylactic penicillin in reducing morbidity and mortality associated with pneumococcal infections in children with sickle cell disease.

March 1989—The NHLBI initiated the National Asthma Education Program. The program was later renamed the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP).

September 1990—Scientists from the NHLBI and the National Cancer Institute began the first gene therapy trial in a human patient, a 4-year-old girl with an inherited immune dysfunction.

January 1991—The NHLBI developed an Obesity Education Initiative to educate the public and health professionals about obesity as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and its relationship to other risk factors such as high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.

June 1991—The NHLBI initiated the National Heart Attack Alert Program.

July 1991—The NHLBI Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly Program demonstrated that low-dose pharmacologic therapy of isolated systolic hypertension in those over age 60 significantly reduces stroke and myocardial infarction.

August 1991—The NHLBI Studies of Left Ventricular Dysfunction demonstrated that use of enalapril—an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor—causes significant reduction in mortality and hospitalization for congestive heart failure in patients with symptomatic heart failure.

January 1995—Results of the NHLBI Multicenter Study of Hydroxyurea demonstrated that hydroxyurea reduced the number of painful episodes by 50% in severely affected adults with sickle cell disease. This is the first effective treatment for adult sickle cell patients.

September 1995—Results of the NHLBI Bypass Angioplasty Revascularization Investigation demonstrated that patients on drug treatment for diabetes who had blockages in 2 or more coronary arteries and were treated with coronary artery bypass surgery had, at 5 years, a markedly lower death rate than similar patients treated with angioplasty.

May 1996—Framingham Heart Study investigators concluded that earlier and more aggressive treatment of hypertension is vital to preventing congestive heart failure.

The Treatment of Mild Hypertension Study demonstrated that lifestyle approaches, such as weight loss, a healthy eating plan, and physical activity, are crucial for reducing blood lipids in those treated for Stage I hypertension.

September 1996—Findings from the NHLBI Asthma Clinical Research Network indicated that inhalation of a beta-agonist at regularly scheduled times is safe for people with asthma but provides no greater benefit than use of the medication only when asthma symptoms occur.

November 1996—Two studies, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) trial and the Trial of Nonpharmacologic Intervention in the Elderly, showed that lifestyle changes, such as modifying one's diet and losing weight, substantially reduce blood pressure in adults and eliminate the need for antihypertensive medication in some older patients.

January 1997—Results from the Pathobiological Determinants of Atherosclerosis in Youth program showed that atherosclerosis develops before age 20 and that high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and cigarette smoking affect progression of atherosclerosis equally in women and men regardless of race.

May 1997—Results from the Antiarrhythmic versus Implantable Defibrillator clinical trial demonstrated that implantable cardiac defibrillators are superior to antiarrhythmic drug therapy for improving overall survival for patients with life-threatening heart arrhythmias.

October 1, 1997—The NHLBI is given responsibility for the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a study begun in 1991 to address chronic diseases in women.

March 1999—A large clinical trial of mechanical ventilator use for intensive care patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome demonstrated that approximately 25% fewer deaths occurred among patients receiving small, rather than large, breaths of air from a mechanical ventilator.

September 2000—NHLBI-supported investigators identified a gene for primary pulmonary hypertension.

January 2001—Results of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Sodium Trial showed that dietary sodium reduction substantially lowers blood pressure in persons with high blood pressure; the greatest effect was seen when sodium reduction was combined with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat previously shown to lower blood pressure (i.e., the DASH diet).

April 2001—The NHLBI released international guidelines for diagnosis, management, and prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

July 2001—A self-contained artificial heart was implanted in a patient for the first time.

September 2001—The NHLBI, along with the American Heart Association and other partners, launched a national Act in Time to Heart Attack Signs campaign to increase awareness of the symptoms of heart attack and the need for a fast response.

July 2002—The NHLBI stopped early the trial of estrogen plus progestin component of the WHI due to increased breast cancer risk and lack of overall benefits. The multicenter trial also found increases in coronary heart disease, stroke, and pulmonary embolism in participants on estrogen plus progestin compared to women taking placebo pills. In 2004, the WHI component evaluating estrogen-alone hormone therapy also was stopped early because the long-term risks of the medications outweighed the long-term benefits.

December 2002—Results of the NHLBI Atrial Fibrillation Follow-up Investigation of Rhythm Management Trial indicated that a strategy involving rate control rather than rhythm control may be the preferred treatment for patients with atrial fibrillation. The rate control strategy involves the use of less expensive drugs and fewer hospitalizations.

Results from the NHLBI Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial (ALLHAT), the largest hypertension clinical trial ever conducted, showed that traditional diuretics are at least as good as newer medicines (calcium channel blockers and ACE inhibitors) to treat high blood pressure and to prevent some forms of heart disease. These findings were in addition to ALLHAT results from 2000, when researchers reported that an alpha-adrenergic blocker was less effective than the diuretic in reducing risk of some forms of CVD.

January 2003 —A study demonstrated that magnetic resonance imaging can detect heart attacks faster and more accurately than traditional methods in patients who arrive at an emergency room with chest pain.

February 2003—The NHLBI Prevention of Recurrent Venous Thromboembolism (PREVENT) trial was stopped because treatment with low-dose warfarin to prevent recurrence of the blood clotting disorders deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism was found to benefit the patients.

May 2003—The NHLBI National Emphysema Treatment Trial found that lung volume reduction surgery benefits emphysema patients who have certain clinical characteristics. The findings will help determine the Medicare coverage policy for the surgery.

July 2003—The NHLBI and Gen-Probe Corporation developed a test to screen donated blood for the West Nile virus.

March 2004—Preliminary results of the NHLBI Sudden Cardiac Death in Heart Failure study demonstrated that an implantable cardiac defibrillator can reduce the risk of death from arrhythmia for heart failure patients.

August 2004—The NHBPEP Working Group on High Blood Pressure in Children and Adolescents released The Fourth Report on the Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure in Children and Adolescents.

An NHLBI-funded study showed that nucleic acid-amplification testing for HIV-1 and hepatitis C virus further safeguards the nation's blood supply.

October 2004—Researchers participating in the NHLBI Asthma Clinical Research Network demonstrated that genetic differences affect how adult patients with mild asthma respond, over time, to daily doses of inhaled albuterol (a drug used for relief of acute asthma symptoms).

November 2004—Results of the NHLBI Prevention of Events with Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibition study demonstrated that many coronary heart disease patients who were receiving state-of-the art therapy do not gain extra cardiovascular protection from ACE inhibitors.

December 2004—The NHLBI Stroke Prevention Trial II showed that children with sickle cell disease who receive transfusions to prevent stroke revert to high risk for stroke when transfusions are stopped. STOP II was initiated after an earlier trial demonstrated that periodic red blood cell transfusions reduce the stroke rate by 90% among high-risk children with sickle cell disease.

January 2005—The NHLBI issued new guidelines for managing asthma during pregnancy.

February 2005—NHLBI-supported scientists identified 2 genetic mutations common in individuals of African descent that are associated with a 40% reduction in LDL cholesterol.

February 2006—Results from the WHI Calcium and Vitamin D trial showed that calcium and vitamin D supplements in healthy postmenopausal women provide a modest improvement in bone mass preservation and prevent hip fractures in certain groups including older women but do not prevent other types of fractures or colorectal cancer.

May 2006—Results from the Childhood Asthma Research and Education Network showed that daily treatment with inhaled corticosteroids can reduce breathing problems in pre-school-aged children at high risk for asthma, but does not prevent them from developing persistent asthma.

The Prospective Investigation of Pulmonary Embolism Diagnosis II found that the ability to diagnose pulmonary embolism is improved when a commonly used imaging test of the chest to detect potentially deadly blood clots in the lung is complemented by an extension of the scan to the legs—where the clots typically originate—or by a standard clinical assessment.

June 2006—The Should We Emergently Revascularize Occluded Coronaries for Cardiogenic Shock (SHOCK) trial showed that treating heart attack patients who have a life-threatening complication called cardiogenic shock with emergency angioplasty or bypass surgery greatly improves their long-term survival. Improved short-term survival was reported in 1999.

July 2006—NHLBI scientists found that a hormone called brain natriuretic peptide—or BNP, which can be detected in a simple blood test—can identify patients with sickle cell disease who have developed a life-threatening complication called pulmonary hypertension. The hormone is also a predictor of death in adult sickle cell patients.

Results from 2 randomized clinical trials demonstrated that inhaled nitric oxide administered within the first few weeks of life helps prevent chronic lung disease in some low birthweight premature infants. Moreover, when administered within 48 hours after birth, it appears to protect some premature newborns from brain injury.

September 2006—The NHLBI launched a peripheral arterial disease (PAD) awareness and education campaign entitled Stay in Circulation...Take Steps to Learn about P.A.D.

January 2007—The NHLBI launched the Learn More Breathe Better campaign to increase COPD awareness among primary care physicians and the public.  View Image.

August 2007—The NAEPP issued the Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of AsthmaFull Report 2007, an update of the latest scientific evidence and recommendations for clinical practice on asthma care.

October 2007—NHLBI-supported researchers Mario Capecchi and Oliver Smithies were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their creation of a gene-targeting technique that allows scientists to create mice that are genetically modified to develop human diseases.

December 2007—The NHLBI announced a new strategic plan to guide its next decade of research, training, and education.

January 2008—Results from the ALLHAT study demonstrated that in people with high blood pressure as part of metabolic syndrome, diuretics offer greater protection against cardiovascular disease and are at least as effective for lowering blood pressure as newer, more expensive medications.

February 2008—The NHLBI stopped one treatment arm of the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) clinical trial of adults with type 2 diabetes at high risk of heart attack and stroke after a review of available data showed that participants following a medical strategy to lower blood glucose below current recommendations to near-normal levels had an increased the risk of death compared with those receiving the standard treatment strategy.

The NHLBI issued the first U.S. guidelines for the diagnosis and management of von Willebrand Disease, the most common inherited bleeding disorder.

March 2008—The WHI Follow-up Study confirmed that the health risks of long-term combination hormone therapy outweigh the benefits for postmenopausal women. Researchers reported that about 3 years after women stopped taking combination hormone therapy, many of the health effects of hormones such as increased risk of heart disease are diminished, but overall risks of stroke, blood clots, and cancer remain high.

April 2008— Results from Stop Atherosclerosis in Native Diabetic Study (SANDS) showed that aggressively lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels below current targets in adults with type 2 diabetes may help to prevent, and possibly reverse, hardening of the arteries.

August 2008—The NHLBI launched an educational Web site “Children and Clinical Studies,” which features documentary videos, text, and graphics designed to promote a better understanding of research in children for health care professionals and the public.

December 2008—The NHLBI expanded its open-access dataset of genetic and clinical data to include information collected from three NHLBI-funded asthma research networks:  CAMP, CARE, and ACRN.

Researchers identified a gene that directly affects the production of a form of hemoglobin that is instrumental in modifying the severity of SCD and thalassemia. 

March 2009—Results from the STICH trial showed that surgery to reshape the scarred left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of the heart, often performed in conjunction with coronary bypass surgery, failed to reduce deaths and hospitalizations in heart failure patients and did not improve quality of life compared to bypass alone.

June 2009—Results from the BARI 2D study in patients with diabetes and stable coronary artery disease indicated that while revascularization can be delayed for many patients receiving optimal medical therapy, patients with extensive coronary artery disease do better with prompt bypass surgery than with medical therapy alone.

The NHLBI joined with UnitedHealth Group's Chronic Disease Initiative to launch a worldwide network of research and training centers to build institutional and community capacity to prevent and control chronic diseases globally.

NHLBI Legislative Chronology

June 16, 1948—The National Heart Act (Public Law 80-655) authorized NHI. The act's purpose was "To improve the health of the people of the United States through the conduct of researches, investigations, experiments, and demonstrations relating to the cause, prevention, and method of diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the heart and circulation; assist and foster such researches and other activities by public and private agencies, and promote the coordination of all such researches and activities and the useful application of their results; provide training in matters relating to heart diseases, including refresher courses for physicians; and develop, and assist States and other agencies in use of the most effective methods of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart diseases."

December 30, 1963—House Joint Resolution 848 (P.L. 88-254) authorized and requested the President to issue an annual proclamation designating February as American Heart Month, inviting governors of states and territories to issue similar proclamations.

May 16, 1972—The National Sickle Cell Anemia Control Act (P.L. 92-294) established a national program for diagnosis, control, and treatment of and research in sickle cell anemia. The act did not mention NHLI but had special pertinence because NHLI was designated to coordinate the National Sickle Cell Disease Program.

September 19, 1972—The National Heart, Blood Vessel, Lung, and Blood Act of 1972 (P.L. 92-423) enlarged institute authority to advance the national attack on heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases. The act provided for expanded, intensified, and coordinated institute activities in accordance with a comprehensive, specified National Heart, Blood Vessel, Lung, and Blood Disease Program to be planned by the director and the Advisory Council.

It also called for establishment of prevention and control programs; development of 15 new centers for basic and clinical research, training, demonstration, and prevention programs for heart, blood vessel, and blood diseases; and development of 15 such centers for chronic lung diseases.

June 25, 1976—Title I of the Health Research and Health Services Amendments of 1976 (P.L. 94-278) redesignated NHLI as NHLBI to advance the national attack on heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases, and to conduct research in use of blood and blood products and in management of blood resources. The NHLBI director and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council continue to plan the national program under the basic P.L. 92-423 provisions with some refinements.

August 1, 1977—The Biomedical Research Extension Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-83) reauthorized NHLBI, with continued emphasis on both the national program and related prevention and dissemination activities.

December 17, 1980—The Health Programs Extension Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-538) reauthorized NHLBI, with continued emphasis on both the national program and related prevention programs.

January 4, 1983—The Orphan Drug Act (P.L. 97-414 ) amended the Public Health Service Act to mandate development and support of not less than 10 comprehensive centers for sickle cell disease.

November 20, 1985—The Health Research Extension Act (P.L. 99-158) reauthorized the NHLBI, provided for the establishment of information dissemination and education programs, and provided for an Associate Director for Prevention.

September 20, and November 4, 1988—The National Bone Marrow Donor Registry (P.L. 100-436, P.L. 100-607) was established. With enactment of these authorization and appropriation measures, NHLBI was given the task of developing an implementation plan for the voluntary bone marrow registry. Responsibility for the Registry later was transferred to the Health Resources and Services Administration.

June 10, 1993—The NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (P.L. 103-43) established a National Center on Sleep Disorders Research within NHLBI.

October 31, 1998—Section 104 of the Women's Health Research and Prevention Amendments (P.L.105-340) instructed the NHLBI director to expand and intensify research and related activities of the institute with respect to heart attack, stroke, and other CVDs in women and to collaborate with other NIH institutes.

October 17, 2002—The Children's Health Act (P.L. 106-310) mandated that the Director of NHLBI, through the Coordinating Committee of the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program, develop a Federal plan for responding to asthma and recommended ways to strengthen coordination of Federal asthma-related activities.

Biographical Sketch of NHLBI Director Gary H. Gibbons, M.D.

Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., is Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he oversees the third largest institute at the NIH, with an annual budget of more than $3 billion and a staff of 917 federal employees.

The NHLBI provides global leadership for research, training, and education programs to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, and blood diseases and enhance the health of all individuals so that they can live longer and more fulfilling lives.

Prior to being named director of the NHLBI, Gibbons served as a member of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council (NHLBAC) from 2009-2012. He was also a member of the NHLBI Board of Extramural Experts (BEE), a working group of the NHLBAC.

Before joining the NHLBI, Gibbons served as the founding director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute, chairperson of the Department of Physiology, and professor of physiology and medicine at the Morehouse School of Medicine, in Atlanta.

Under his leadership of the Cardiovascular Research Institute, Gibbons directed NIH-funded research in the fields of vascular biology, genomic medicine, and the pathogenesis of vascular diseases. During his tenure, the Cardiovascular Research Institute emerged as a center of excellence, leading the way in discoveries related to the cardiovascular health of minority populations. Gibbons received several patents for innovations derived from his research in the fields of vascular biology and the pathogenesis of vascular diseases.

Gibbons earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in Princeton, N.J., and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School in Boston. He completed his residency and cardiology fellowship at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Prior to joining the Morehouse School of Medicine in 1999, Gibbons was a member of the faculty at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., from 1990-1996, and at Harvard Medical School from 1996-1999.

Throughout his career, Gibbons has received numerous honors, including election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences; selection as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Minority Faculty Development Awardee; selection as a Pew Foundation Biomedical Scholar; and recognition as an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association (AHA).

NHLBI Directors

Name In Office from To
Cassius James Van Slyke August 1, 1948 November 30, 1952
James Watt December 1, 1952 September 10, 1961
Ralph E. Knutti September 11, 1961 July 31, 1965
William H. Stewart August 1, 1965 September 24, 1965
Robert P. Grant March 8, 1966 August 15, 1966
Donald S. Frederickson November 6, 1966 March 1968
Theodore Cooper March 15, 1968 April 19, 1974
Robert I. Levy September 16, 1975 June 1981
Claude Lenfant July 1, 1982 September 2, 2003
Elizabeth G. Nabel February 1, 2005 November 30, 2009
Susan B. Shurin (Acting) December 1, 2009 August 10, 2012
Gary H. Gibbons August 13, 2012 Present

NHLBI Programs

The NHLBI is organized into the Extramural Research Program, the Intramural Research Program, and the Office of the Director.

The Office of the Director

The Office of the Director (OD) of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) provides overall strategic planning, policy guidance, program development and evaluation, and operational and administrative coordination for the Institute. Offices within the OD provide critical management and administrative support to the Institute, and are responsible for the transparent and responsible stewardship of the NHLBI budget.

The OD is the focal point of relationships with the Director of the NIH as well as with other components of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), other Federal agencies, Congress, professional societies, voluntary health organizations, and other public groups. The OD advises and guides the NHLBI's key leaders on the principles, practices, laws, regulations, and policies of the Federal equal employment, affirmative action, civil rights, and minority programs.

The OD collects, develops, and disseminates information on the diseases of the heart, lung, and blood and on transfusion medicine, with an emphasis on disease prevention, and conducts and fosters educational programs for scientists and clinicians. It provides leadership in the transfer and assessment of information for the scientific community and the lay public, and establishes internal Institute policy for program and administrative operations, maintaining surveillance over their implementation.

Office of Management

The NHLBI Office of Management (OM) provides oversight and consultation on the business and administrative management operations of the Institute. Areas under the purview of the OM include: budget formulation and execution; human resource management; administrative policy and procedures development and oversight; Freedom of Information and Privacy Act compliance; space management; and travel and procurement services for the Office of the Director components.

The Center for Biomedical Informatics

The Center for Biomedical Informatics (CBI) supports and provides leadership for the Institute for all aspects of biocomputing. CBI supports the Institute's information technology (IT), encompassing strategic planning, project management, and developing enterprise systems. The office oversees the continuous operations of the IT infrastructure, including new network development, user and network support, and information security. CBI also maintains and develops IT systems and databases for tracking and reporting of extramural and intramural programs. CBI recommends and implements IT policies and procedures; studies, evaluates and tests new technologies (hardware, software, and information systems); designs methods to communicate with all NHLBI stakeholders; and develops new methods for managing knowledge in addition to developing an information architecture for the Institute.

The Center for Population Studies

The NHLBI Center for Population Studies formulates a global view of the etiology, natural history, and time-period trends in heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders. The Center performs collaborative studies of heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders; and conducts state-of-the-art research of these conditions with attention to early onset of these disorders as well as genetic susceptibility. In addition, the Center has launched a systems medicine project known as the SABRe CVD Initiative (Systems Approach to Biomarker Research in Cardiovascular Disease) in which researchers will obtain metabolomic, proteomic, gene expression, and microRNA data on thousands of study participants in an effort to identify molecular signatures of disease phenotypes in the population setting.

The Office of Research Training and Minority Health (ORTMH)

The Office of Research Training and Minority Health (ORTMH) was established by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) effective July 1, 2002. The office has an overall mission to provide leadership and oversight of the NHLBI extramural research training and career development programs and policies, including an emphasis on the elimination of health disparities through research and training of a future diverse research workforce. The office develops, implements, and evaluates IC policies and procedures for research, training, and career development awards; (2) provides leadership, coordination, and/or oversight responsibility of information concerning the NHLBI's programs, policies, and procedures to the biomedical research training community; and (3) provides and coordinates targeted programs including efficient utilization of existing mechanisms and data resources to address research training, manpower, and research priorities, such as inclusion of minorities in research studies and ensuring a diverse research workforce. In addition, the office is the Institute's focal point for advice and guidance on matters pertaining to minority health and minority participation in research, including identifying gaps and needs as well as opportunities to address them. It provides leadership, coordination, and oversight for an NHLBI-wide strategic plan to improve research for minority and health disparity populations on diseases and conditions that affect these groups disproportionately; (2) develops and promotes strategies for outreach to improve minority enrollment in clinical studies; and (3) promotes effective dialogue between researchers and trainees, including those in minority and health disparity communities, by establishing professional, community and/or mentoring networks important in communication with various population groups.

The Office of Science and Technology (OST)

The Office of Science and Technology (OST) at the NHLBI provides support to the Institute's Director and Institute Divisions and Offices. It establishes goals and implements procedures and policies to accomplish them, conducts program analysis, develops reports on Institute activities, and coordinates the Institute's technology transfer function. The OST is comprised of four programs: Program Studies and Reports; Science and Special Issues; Public Liaison; and Technology Transfer and Development.

The Office of Communications (OC)

The NHLBI Office of Communications provides a comprehensive, integrated, and technology-supported communications capability for all matters relating to the communication of the Institute's vision, Strategic Plan, and mission oriented program activities and accomplishments to internal and external audiences; initiates, develops, and implements a dynamic, proactive, communications program appropriate for intended audiences; involves multiple groups on a national and international level and leverages the communications resources of local, national, and international sources including audience-specific interest groups; evaluates the effectiveness of communications activities; and coordinates and integrates activities of the Public Affairs and the Health Campaigns & Consumer Services Branches.

Public Affairs Branch

The Public Affairs Branch implements and maintains mutual communications between the NHLBI and the general public and internal and external audiences; maintains the Director's, NHLBI Newsroom, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Strategic Plan Web sites; acts as event coordinator; oversees media relations; and advances the public face of the NHLBI.

Health Campaigns & Consumer Services Branch

The Health Campaigns and Consumer Services Branch utilizes the latest health and consumer communications, behavioral and social marketing research in planning communications strategies; develops consumer messages and public education campaigns for COPD, women and heart disease, and sickle cell disease; provides consulting services for printing, graphic design and publication layout, and provides support for NHLBI exhibits, product marketing and printed media and provides clearance support for the NHLBI's print and Web-based publications, ensuring the Institute's disseminations meet the NIH and the HHS clearance requirements.

Office of Communications (OC)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
ATTN: Web Site Inquiries
31 Center Drive, MSC 2480
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-2480
Phone numbers are available in the Abbreviated Staff Directory.

Extramural Research Program

NHLBI extramural research programs are implemented through 3 scientific units—the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, the Division of Lung Diseases, and the Division of Blood Diseases and Resources—and a service unit, the Division of Extramural Research Activities. Additionally, the Division for the Application of Research Discoveries focuses on translation, dissemination, and utilization of research findings. Research grants, program project grants, specialized center grants, cooperative agreements, research contracts, research career development awards, and institutional and individual national research service awards are used to support research, research training, and career development.

Division of Cardiovascular Sciences (DCVS)

DCVS provides leadership and supports basic, clinical, population, and health services research on the causes, prevention, and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. DCVS represents the union of two previously existing divisions, the Division of Cardiovascular Disease (DCVD) and the Division of Prevention and Population Sciences (DPPS).

The Division fosters research in disease areas, such as atherothrombosis, heart attack and heart failure, high blood pressure, stroke, atrial and ventricular arrhythmias, sudden cardiac death, adult and pediatric congenital heart disease, cardiovascular complications of diabetes and obesity, and other cardiovascular disorders. Technology development for the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disorders is also supported. Research also includes a number of well-known epidemiological cohort studies that describe disease and risk factor patterns in populations; clinical trials of interventions to prevent disease and to prevent or modulate risk factors; studies of genetic, behavioral, sociocultural, health systems, and environmental influences on disease risk and outcomes; and studies of the application of prevention and treatment strategies to determine how to improve clinical care and public health. The Division supports training and career development for these areas of research. In addition to the Office of the Director, the Division is organized operationally as 3 Offices and 3 Programs that oversee 8 Branches.

  • Office of Research Training and Career Development
  • Office of Biostatistics Research
  • Office of Special Projects
  • Program in Basic and Early Translational Research
  • Vascular Biology and Hypertension Branch
  • Advanced Technologies and Surgery Branch
  • Program in Adult and Pediatric Cardiac Research
  • Heart Failure and Arrhythmias Branch
  • Heart Development and Structural Diseases Branch
  • Atherosclerosis and Coronary Artery Diseases Branch
  • Program in Prevention and Population Sciences
  • Epidemiology Branch
  • Clinical Applications and Prevention Branch
  • Women's Health Initiative Branch

Office of Research Training and Career Development

The Office of Research Training and Career Development supports training and career development programs in cardiovascular research, offering opportunities to individuals at all educational levels from high school students to academic faculty, including programs for individuals from diverse populations. The programs promote opportunities for investigators, early in their research careers and under mentorship from senior scientists, to perform basic, preclinical or clinical cardiovascular research and to take emerging and promising scientific and technological advances from discovery through preclinical and clinical studies. The Office also collaborates with the scientific community and professional organizations to ensure that training programs meet both the current and future needs of the cardiovascular research workforce. Programs supported by the Office include:

  • Institutional and individual research training programs and fellowships for training of promising cardiovascular scientists at the predoctoral, postdoctoral, junior faculty, and established investigator levels.
  • Diversity Supplements to ongoing research grants for support of young investigators from diverse backgrounds, from the high school to the junior faculty level.
  • The Pathway to Independence Program, which allows the recipient to bridge the gap between a career development award and a research award.
  • Career development programs specifically designed for clinical research or for minority researchers and institutions.

Office of Biostatistics Research

The Office of Biostatistics Research (OBR) provides statistical expertise to members of all Divisions of the NHLBI and performs diverse functions in planning, designing, implementing and analyzing NHLBI-sponsored studies. The OBR has primary responsibility for providing objective, statistically sound, and medically relevant solutions to problems. When presented with a problem for which techniques are not yet available, the OBR is expected to provide a new and valid statistical solution. The OBR is concerned with designing efficient studies and monitoring data while studies are ongoing. All members of the professional staff have interests in statistical methodology relevant to clinical research studies. The OBR's methodological interest concern survival analysis, longitudinal data analysis, and efficient study designs, including the monitoring of ongoing clinical studies for efficacy and safety. Recently the OBR has made contributions to statistical genetics and has extended its expertise to bioinformatics.

Office of Special Projects

The Office of Special Projects will represent the DCVS on NHLBI and NIH policy committees, oversee and work with Division leadership on selected activities of the DCVS clinical studies portfolio, foster communication within DCVS by developing and/or coordinating Division-wide and Institute-wide interest groups on various topics, develop and implement specific cross-cutting projects, and provide expert consultation as needed for the larger-scale projects or initiative development.

Program in Basic and Early Translational Research

The Program supports and provides leadership for basic, pre-clinical and early translational studies on vascular biology and hypertension, cardiovascular surgery, and the development of advanced technologies for the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. The portfolio includes an integrated basic and clinical research program studying the biological basis for vascular diseases and hypertension, and their diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Research on cardiovascular surgery includes both basic and pre-clinical research on surgical approaches, and clinical trials to establish evidence-based surgical therapies. The development of diagnostics encompasses research on biosensors, imaging technologies, and the application of “omic” methodologies. Therapeutic development includes drug and nucleic acid delivery technologies, regenerative and reparative medicine, gene therapy, and device development. The Program also supports training and career development for these areas of research. The Program is divided into two branches: the Vascular Biology and Hypertension Branch, and the Advanced Technologies and Surgery Branch.

Program in Adult and Pediatric Cardiac Research

The Program supports and provides leadership for basic, translational, and clinical research on the development, maturation, and functioning of the heart throughout all stages of life. The research portfolio includes a broad array of science including cardiac development and maturation, myocyte structure and function, myocardial energetics and metabolism, cardiac electrophysiology, coronary artery structure and function, the failing heart, valvular heart disease, exercise physiology, nutrition and the heart, congenital heart disease from birth through adulthood, the intrauterine environment and cardiovascular risk, cardiomyopathy, and coronary artery disease. A key function of the Program is to provide collaborative leadership for the systematic oversight of clinical research across the Division, including clinical research information technology and standard but flexible operating procedures. The Program also supports training and career development for these areas of research. The Program is organized into three major components: the Heart Failure and Arrhythmias Branch, the Heart Development and Structural Diseases Branch, and the Atherosclerosis and Coronary Artery Diseases Branch.

Program in Prevention and Population Sciences

The Program of Prevention and Population Sciences supports and provides leadership for population- and clinic-based research on the causes, prevention, and clinical care of cardiovascular, lung, and blood diseases and sleep disorders. Research includes a broad array of epidemiological studies to describe disease and risk factor patterns in populations and to identify risk factors for disease; clinical trials of interventions to prevent disease; studies of genetic, behavioral, sociocultural, and environmental influences on disease risk and outcomes; and studies of the application of prevention and treatment strategies to determine how to improve clinical care and public health. The Program also supports training and career development for these areas of research. The Program is organized into three major components: the Epidemiology Branch, the Clinical Applications and Prevention Branch, and the Women's Health Initiative Branch.

Division of Lung Diseases (DLD)

The DLD plans and directs a coordinated research program on the causes and progression of lung diseases and sleep disorders including their prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. It supports basic research, clinical trials, national pulmonary centers, technological development, and application of research findings. Activities focus on understanding the structure and function of the respiratory system, increasing fundamental knowledge of mechanisms associated with pulmonary disorders, and applying new findings to evolving treatment strategies for patients. The DLD, through the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, also coordinates sleep research activities across the NIH, other Federal agencies, and outside organizations.

The Division is organized into 2 branches and 1 center:

  • Airway Biology and Disease Branch
  • Lung Biology and Disease Branch
  • National Center on Sleep Disorders Research

The Airway Biology and Disease Branch supports research and research training in asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, and airway function in health and disease. Basic research focuses on elucidating the etiology and pathophysiology of the diseases. Clinical studies focus on improving asthma management and reducing health disparities in asthma, improving COPD treatment and management, and developing genetic, pharmacologic, and nonpharmacologic (e.g., gene transfer) treatments for cystic fibrosis.

The Lung Biology and Disease Branch supports research, education, and training programs in lung cell and vascular biology; developmental biology and pediatric lung diseases; acute lung injury and critical care medicine; and interstitial lung diseases and lung immunology including pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis, and pulmonary manifestations of HIV/AIDS and associated infections with emphasis on active and latent tuberculosis (TB) and drug-resistant TB. Basic research focuses on lung development and cell biology, including stem cell biology and cell-based therapies, and mechanisms of disease etiology and pathogenesis. Clinical studies focus on evaluating innovative therapies for acute lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary fibrosis, neonatal lung disease, pulmonary embolism, and pulmonary hypertension.

The National Center on Sleep Disorders Research plans, directs, and supports basic, clinical, and applied research, health education, training, and prevention research in sleep, chronobiology, and sleep disorders. It oversees developments in its program areas; assesses the national needs for research on causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of sleep disorders and sleepiness; and coordinates sleep research activities across the Federal government and with professional, voluntary, and private organizations.

The NHLBI sleep research program seeks to understand the molecular, genetic, and physiological regulation of sleep and the relationship of sleep disorders to cardiovascular diseases. It also supports efforts to understand the relationships of sleep restriction and sleep-disordered breathing to the metabolic syndrome, including obesity, high blood pressure and stroke, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, and vascular inflammation.

Division of Blood Diseases and Resources (DBDR)

The DBDR plans and directs research and research training on the causes and prevention of blood diseases and disorders. Areas of interest encompass a broad spectrum of research from stem cell biology to medical management of blood diseases, with a focus on nonmalignant and premalignant processes. The DBDR has recently taken a leading role in developing cell-based therapies, combining the expertise of transfusion medicine and stem cell technology with the exploration of repair and regeneration of human tissues and biological systems. The Division also has a major responsibility to improve the adequacy and safety of the Nation's blood supply.

The Division is organized into 3 branches:

  • Blood Diseases Branch
  • Thrombosis and Hemostasis Branch
  • Transfusion Medicine and Cellular Therapeutics Branch

The Blood Diseases Branch supports research and research training in nonmalignant disorders of the hematopoietic system including sickle cell disease and thalassemia. Attention is focused on reducing morbidity and mortality caused by the disorders and preventing their occurrence. The Branch oversees a program of Comprehensive Sickle Cell Centers, which collectively form a sickle cell disease clinical research network—and which individually conduct basic and clinical research—and provide state-of-the-art patient care, educational activities for patients and health professionals, community outreach, and genetic counseling services. A thalassemia clinical network is evaluating new treatment strategies and ensuring that research findings on optimal management of the disease are rapidly disseminated to practitioners and health care professionals.

The Thrombosis and Hemostasis Branch supports research and research training in hemostasis, thrombosis, and endothelial cell biology. It oversees a comprehensive program of basic research, clinical studies, and technology development focusing on understanding the pathogenesis of both arterial and venous thrombosis in order to improve the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of thrombosis in heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular diseases. The Branch also supports research on bleeding disorders (e.g., hemophilia and von Willebrand Disease) and immune disorders (e.g., idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, and systemic lupus erythematosus).

The Transfusion Medicine and Cellular Therapeutics Branch plans and directs research and research training in transfusion medicine, stem cell biology and disease, and clinical cellular medicine. It supports research on the use, safety, and availability of blood and blood components for transfusion and cellular therapies. The Branch also develops programs for basic and clinical research related to normal and abnormal cellular biology and pathology. In addition, it collaborates with governmental, private sector, and international organizations to improve the safety and availability of the global supply of blood and blood components.

Division of Extramural Research Activities (DERA)

The DERA provides a number of services to the Institute. For example, it represents the Institute on overall NIH committees on extramural program policies and oversees compliance with such policies within the NHLBI. It also provides grant and contract management services to the Institute's program divisions, and provides initial scientific merit review of some research grant applications (e.g., applications submitted in response to an Institute Request for Applications, RFA). In addition, the DERA coordinates the Institute's Committee Management Activities and the meetings of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council.

Division for the Application of Research Discoveries (DARD)

The DARD provides leadership for the vigorous pursuit of excellence in national as well as international research translation, dissemination, and utilization programs to speed the application of scientific advances in the prevention, detection, and treatment of cardiovascular, lung, and blood diseases and narrow the discovery-delivery gap. Through knowledge networks, education programs, community outreach, conferences, and symposia, provides opportunities for multidirectional communication and collaboration among researchers, clinical and public health practitioners, patients, and the general public. (1) Connects research and practice in a continuous learning loop; (2) identifies knowledge gaps that should be addressed by future research; (3) enables rapid translation of emergent knowledge by synthesizing and organizing evidence around priority diseases and conditions; (4) facilitates knowledge-sharing and collaboration with key stakeholder groups; and (5) reaches out to people in high risk, low-income, and minority communities to eliminate health disparities.

Office of the Director

(1) Plans, coordinates, and manages activities of all DARD subdivisions; (2) fosters and coordinates inter-NHLBI and interagency collaborative national and international research translation, dissemination and utilization activities, and knowledge network activities; (3) develops and maintains the necessary technical management capability to foster and guide effective national and international research translation, dissemination, utilization, and communication programs; and (4) provides administrative and crosscutting technical support and coordination to achieve NHLBI strategic planning goals and objectives.

Research Translation Branch

(1) Manages emergent knowledge for rapid translation through more effective approaches to synthesize and organize evidence around priority diseases and conditions; (2) identifies knowledge gaps for informing future research opportunities; (3) promotes the use of evidence-based reviews and developing or facilitating the development of clinical guidelines with relevant stakeholders; (4) develops clinical decision support and other innovative implementation applications for use in clinical and public health practice settings; and (5) facilitates knowledge exchange opportunities for researchers and users of research to discuss issues of research applicability, relevance, and utility to inform future research needs and opportunities through knowledge networks and other strategies.

Enhanced Dissemination and Utilization Branch

(1) Collects, synthesizes, and communicates new knowledge and recommendations for dissemination and utilization of research-based findings to diverse target audiences including minority and underserved groups; (2) provides technical assistance and information resources to enhance NHLBI grantees' dissemination plans and practices; (3) accelerates the speed with which evidence-based tools, and education programs move into community practice settings through best practice strategies in research dissemination and utilization; (4) establishes community-based Enhanced Dissemination and Utilization Centers committed to applying and evaluating the impact of the latest research advances in multiple settings to achieve DHHS Healthy People Goals and to eliminate health disparities; and (5) conducts data analysis to inform program planning and evaluate the impact of dissemination and utilization activities.

Intramural Research Program

Division of Intramural Research (DIR)

The DIR conducts laboratory and clinical research in heart, vascular, lung, blood, and kidney diseases and develops technology related to cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases.

The DIR is organized into 4 centers and 3 branches:

  • Biochemistry and Biophysics Center
  • Cell Biology and Physiology Center
  • Genetics and Development Biology Center
  • Immunology Center
  • Translational Medicine Branch
  • Hematology Branch
  • Pulmonary and Vascular Medicine Branch

The Biochemistry and Biophysics Center studies the molecular basis of structure–function relationships of proteins and biologically relevant molecules. It performs state-of-the-art studies of protein structure and functional interactions, develops mathematical tools for generating models of protein structure–function relationships, elucidates mechanisms of enzyme function, and investigates relationships between protein structure–function and cell signaling pathways.

The Cell Biology and Physiology Center studies mechanisms that regulate cellular function and physiology. It evaluates mechanisms that control different molecular machines within the cytosol, including those involved in muscle contraction, and cytosolic and membrane transport processes. The Center studies cellular signaling events associated with hormone action, cytosolic trafficking, and energy metabolism; investigates the role of cellular processes on function and adaptation in whole animal model systems; and develops unique measuring devices for studying biochemical and physiological processes in intact cells, whole animals, and clinical situations.

The Genetics and Development Biology Center studies mechanisms that regulate cardiovascular development and the etiology of congenital heart anomalies and cardiovascular disease. It evaluates the function of specific genes and transcription factors in the development of the heart and other tissues, develops techniques and approaches for gene delivery and gene therapy, and investigates processes that regulate and interpret the genetic code in development and disease.

The Immunology Center studies intracellular and signaling processes involved in the activation of lymphocytes and mast cells, investigates mechanisms by which drugs and other agents result in allergic–autoimmune reactions, and applies the results to the development of diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

The Translational Medicine Branch conducts biomedical research directed at defining at the molecular level, normal and abnormal biologic function. It develops diagnostic and therapeutic modalities for the treatment and understanding of cardiovascular disease and implements mechanism-based clinical studies.

The Hematology Branch investigates normal and abnormal hematopoiesis. It focuses on bone marrow failure, viral infections of hematopoietic cells, gene therapy of hematologic and malignant diseases, bone marrow transplantation, and mechanisms of immunologically mediated syndromes like graft-versus-host disease and autoimmune diseases.

The Pulmonary and Vascular Medicine Branch conducts research on the lung, heart, and systemic vasculature directed at defining—at the molecular, biochemical, and functional levels—normal physiological function and novel mechanisms of disease.

This page last reviewed on August 6, 2013

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