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Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

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Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Agency overview
Formed1962 (1962)
Agency executive
Parent agencyNational Institutes of Health

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) is one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States Department of Health and Human Services. It supports and conducts research aimed at improving the health of children, adults, families, and communities, including:


The impetus for NICHD came from the Task Force on the Health and Well-Being of Children, convened in 1961 and led by Dr. Robert E. Cooke, a senior medical advisor to President John F. Kennedy. Eunice Kennedy Shriver also served on the task force, which reported that more research was needed on the physical, emotional, and intellectual growth of children.

The U.S. Congress established NICHD in 1962 as the first NIH institute to focus on the entire life process rather than on a specific disease or body system. NICHD became a funding source for research on birth defects and intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs), created a new pediatrics specialty, and established IDDs as a field of research. The institute also focused on the idea that adult health has its origins in early development and that behavior and social science were important aspects of human development.[2]

On December 21, 2007, by act of Congress (Public Law 110–54), NICHD was renamed the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in honor of Mrs. Shriver's vision, dedication, and contributions to the founding of the institute.[3]

Past directors

Past directors from 1963 -present[4]

Portrait Director Took office Left office
Robert A. Aldrich March 1, 1963 October 1964
Donald Harting July 8, 1965 1966
Gerald D. LaVeck October 9, 1966 September 1, 1973
Gilbert L. Woodside (acting) September 1, 1973 September 1, 1974
Norman Kretchmer September 1, 1974 September 30, 1981
Betty H. Pickett (acting) September 30, 1981 June 30, 1982
Mortimer B. Lipsett July 1, 1982 January 7, 1985
Duane Alexander February 5, 1986 September 30, 2009
Susan Shurin (acting) October 1, 2009 November 30, 2009
Alan Edward Guttmacher (acting) December 1, 2009 July 21, 2010
Alan Edward Guttmacher July 22, 2010 September 30, 2015
Catherine Y. Spong (acting) October 1, 2015 October 31, 2016
Diana W. Bianchi November 1, 2016 Present


The mission of NICHD is to ensure that every person is born healthy and wanted, that women suffer no harmful effects from reproductive processes, and that all children have the chance to achieve their full potential for healthy and productive lives, free from disease or disability, and to ensure the health, productivity, independence, and well-being of all people through optimal rehabilitation.[5]


As of November 2016, the director of NICHD is Diana W. Bianchi.[6]

NICHD's budget in 2015 was an estimated $1.3 billion, which supported research at institutions, universities, and organizations throughout the world, as well as research conducted by NICHD scientists on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, and at other facilities.



  • Office of the Director
  • Division of Extramural Research
    • Child Development and Behavior Branch
    • Contraceptive Discovery and Development Branch
    • Developmental Biology and Structural Variation Branch
    • Fertility and Infertility Branch
    • Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch
    • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Branch
    • Maternal and Pediatric Infectious Disease Branch
    • Obstetric and Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics Branch
    • Pediatric Growth and Nutrition Branch
    • Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branch
    • Population Dynamics Branch
    • Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch
  • National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research
  • Division of Intramural Population Health Research
    • Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Branch
    • Epidemiology Branch
    • Health Behavior Branch
  • Division of Intramural Research
    • Office of the Scientific Director
    • Scientific Affinity Groups
      • Aquatic Models of Human Development
      • Basic Mechanisms of Genome Regulation
      • Behavioral Determinants and Developmental Imaging
      • Bone and Matrix Biology in Development and Disease
      • Cell and Structural Biology
      • Cell Regulation and Development
      • Developmental Endocrine Oncology and Genetics
      • Genetics and Epigenetics of Development
      • Integrative Membrane, Cell, and Tissue Pathophysiology
      • Metals Biology and Molecular Medicine
      • Neurosciences
      • Pediatric Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Molecular Genetics
      • Perinatal and Obstetrical Research
      • Reproductive Endocrine and Gynecology

National Children's Study

The National Children's Study (NCS) was a longitudinal cohort study that planned to recruit participants from across the United States of America. The NCS was led by the National Institutes of Health, with the NICHD serving as the scientific lead. It was intended to measure the many factors that contribute to health and disease from before birth through age 21. This included, but was not limited to, the search for drivers of diseases with prenatal or developmental origins. The Study was closed in December 2014.[8][9]


Within NICHD, the NCS Program Office administered the implementation of day-to-day Study operations. The Program Office was supervised by the Study Director, Steven Hirschfeld, MD, PhD Associate Director for Clinical Research, NICHD.

For advice and recommendations regarding Study framework, content, and methodologies, the NCS Program Office engaged external advisors and scientific groups. These groups included federal partners such as the NCS Federal Advisory Committee and a Federal Consortium with representatives from multiple federal agencies including: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. An independent Study Monitoring and Oversight Committee monitored study progress and participant safety.

In addition to these more formal channels, the NCS solicited feedback from subject matter experts from around the world and from individuals, community advocates, and professional societies concerned with child health. The NCS Program Office also provided public forums for input on a variety of initiatives.[10]

Congressional Mandate

The "President's Task Force on Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children" recommended this federal initiative in 1999, after which Congress passed the Children's Health Act of 2000 (Title X, Section 1004). The Act charged NICHD to:

  1. plan, develop, and implement a prospective cohort study, from birth to adulthood, to evaluate the effects of both chronic and intermittent exposures on child health and human development; and
  2. investigate basic mechanisms of developmental disorders and environmental factors, both risk and protective, that influence health and developmental processes.

The Act required this NCS to:

  1. incorporate behavioral, emotional, educational, and contextual consequences to enable a complete assessment of the physical, chemical, biological, and psychosocial environmental influences on children's well-being;
  2. gather data on environmental influences and outcomes on diverse populations of children, which may include the consideration of prenatal exposures; and
  3. consider health disparities among children, which may include the consideration of prenatal exposures[11]


The NCS was designed to examine the effects of the environment—broadly defined to include factors such as air, water, diet, sound, family dynamics, community, and cultural influences— and genetics on the growth, development, and health of children across the United States. The NCS was designed to follow approximately 100,000 children, some from before birth, through age 21 years. The NCS planned to collect comprehensive information to:

  1. contribute to improving the health and well-being of all children
  2. deepen our understanding of the contribution of various factors to a range of health and disease outcomes
  3. understand factors that lead to health disparities.

With this broad perspective, the NCS was designed to contribute to the implementation of health equity, where each individual has an opportunity to realize their health potential.[12]


The NCS was in its Vanguard, or pilot phase, which was designed to assess the feasibility, acceptability, cost, and utility of Study scientific output, logistics, and operations prior to initiating the Main Study. The Vanguard Study enrolled about 5,000 children in 40 counties across the United States. General recruitment was completed in July 2013.

On December 12, 2014, the National Children's Study closed, after an expert review committee advised the NIH Director that moving forward with the larger Main Study would not be the best way to add to the understanding of how environmental and genetic factors influence child health and development.[13]

Notable accomplishments

NICHD has made numerous contributions to improving the health of children, adults, families, and communities. Selected research advances from 2015 include improving the health of infants born preterm, encouraging healthy behaviors, and optimizing rehabilitation.[14]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Discover the NICHD" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Establishment of the NICHD". Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  3. ^ NICHD Renamed for Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Advocate for Institute's Founding
  4. ^ "NICID Directors".
  5. ^ "NICHD Mission and Scientific Accomplishments". Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  6. ^ "NIH names Dr. Diana Bianchi director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development". Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  7. ^ "Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)". National Institutes of Health (NIH). 2015-07-09. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  8. ^ Jocelyn Kaiser (December 12, 2014). "NIH cancels massive U.S. children's study". Science. Retrieved July 28, 2022. has too many flaws to be carried out in a tight budget environment, advisers today told National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins. He announced he is dismantling the study immediately.
  9. ^ Francis S. Collins (December 12, 2014). "Statement on the National Children's Study". NIH. Retrieved December 14, 2014. I am appointing Dr. David Murray, NIH Associate Director for Prevention, effectively immediately, to manage the orderly transition of the NCS program office and closure of the study.
  10. ^ "Organization of the National Children's Study". Archived from the original on 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2014-09-29.
  11. ^ National Institutes of Health New Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Neuropsychosocial Measures Formative Research Methodology Studies for the National Children's Study Federal Register, vol 76, No. 84, May 2, 2011
  12. ^ "Study Overview". Archived from the original on 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2014-09-29.
  13. ^ National Children's Study (NCS) Working Group FINAL REPORT – DECEMBER 12, 2014 National Institutes of Health, Advisory Committee to the Director, 19 pages
  14. ^ "Selected NICHD Research Advances of 2015". Retrieved 2016-11-17.

Further reading

39°0′12″N 77°6′16″W / 39.00333°N 77.10444°W / 39.00333; -77.10444

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Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
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