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NIH Building Infrastructure at Non-Research Institutions

In recent years, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have initiated numerous projects intended to draw attention to, strengthen and diversify research assets within health organizations and educational institutions around the globe.†

It is important to note that the NIH is seeking to foster research capacity in educational institutions not traditionally known as being research intensive. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is currently seeking input concerning best practices and models in the development of research capabilities in such schools. †By introducing research methods to the broadest possible audience, it is believed that the next generation of scientists and researchers will be better able to address demographic disparities within the healthcare system.

It is understood that each rising generation needs to be sufficiently informed and capable of bearing the values of innovation and creativity directly from the classroom to the work force. Instilling an appreciation for new and evolving approaches to research and training is an invaluable task that should be initiated as early as possible. Consequently, the NIH is channeling considerable energy into primarily undergraduate institutions such as Towson University. It is hoped that current instructional methods will come to integrate an adaptive awareness of the importance of exploratory research with the essential knowledge upon which medical careers are built.

A particular initiative targeting potential future scientists and researchers currently enrolled at undergraduate institutions within the United States is the Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA). The goal is, of course, the stimulation of research interest in institutions that provide baccalaureate or advanced degrees to significant numbers of the nationís research scientists and that have not been the recipients of NIH grants in the past.† In this manner, resources are made accessible to the greatest possible number of candidates for careers in the health industry. Proportional to the increasing potential for discovery and invention within the rising generation of practitioners is the rate at which diseases of all types are studied, treated and ultimately conquered in the near future. ††

The NIH recognizes the necessity of creating a culture in which original research and research literacy are highly valued. In such a culture, adequate time and resources would be allotted to original research projects that would ideally involve both professionals and students from a wide range of institutional backgrounds, including those in which research has not historically been a leading focus. It is only through cooperation across all educational and health institutions that demographic and communicative boundaries can be bridged so as to ensure the most efficacious provision of health services to all persons and populations around the world. †

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E-mail: ospr@towson.edu

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