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The NIH, or National Institutes of Health, is a health information organization dedicated to research and public education. Funded by the United States government, the NIH is a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is comprised of 27 distinct concentration areas known as institutes or centers. These centers focus on different areas of the body or specific diseases.[1]

The NIH offers consumer resources for prescription drugs through their MEDLINEplus website. More than 9,000 medications are indexed through through the site, which is operated by the NIH's National Library of Medicine. The NIH also posts statistical information online about a number of illnesses and other medical topics. These include Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, Cancer, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health. They also post statistics from the CDC on the topic of Disease Control and Prevention.[2]

Flickr: ragesoss
Part of Department of Health and Human Services
Purpose Research and education
Headquarters Bethesda, Maryland[1]
Founded 1887[3]
Disclaimer The information provided by is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Do not take any action based on the information on this page without consulting a physician.
Author Laura Acevedo


About NIH

In 1887, a laboratory was founded in the Marine Hospital Service to help study diseases carried and transmitted by ocean-bound travelers and merchant seamen. This research expanded over the years into the National Institutes of Health with a budget of over $31 billion specifically designated for medical research.[4] Research is performed at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and in scientific and medical facilities around the country, which the NIH funds through grants.[1]

The impact of the NIH reaches far beyond American boundaries. The institute is the largest medical research funding source in the world and is directly responsible for sponsoring scientists and researchers across the globe. These medical scientists work at research institutions, universities and medical centers. More than 6,000 employees work directly for the NIH in their research laboratories, and 325,000 are indirectly employed through their grant programs.[1]

In addition to funding research, the NIH sponsors training programs that help support scientific activities and knowledge. This funding is designed to help maintain momentum in medical research for future generations.

NIH maintains a website where the public can find information on a variety of health topics. The site lists diseases and other health issues from A to Z, and visitors may click on their topics of interest to learn detailed analyses about them. In addition, the site provides data from clinical trials, as well as sections devoted to the health of children, teens, men, women, minorities and seniors.[5]


NIH Health Information

On the NIH website, the public can access information about healthy lifestyles, general health topics, and specific conditions. However, the organization stresses that consumers are not to substitute any information found online, through their site or any others, for a consultation with a doctor. The NIH views online medical information as fodder for discussion with a physician, but not a definitive source of knowledge for illnesses and treatments.

While they do not regulate the flow if health information on the Web, the NIH does recommend that consumers check the dates of all health articles they read, look for references, note the domain name, and not confuse advertisements for legitimate medical advice. They also advise consumers to be suspicious of medical claims that seem too good to be true.[2]

National Institutes of Health Overview

Information about the National Institutes of Health

NIH Senior Health

The NIH has a sister website dedicated to the medical concerns of senior citizens. The NIH Senior Health site allows visitors to browse through health topics from A to Z, and also offers featured topics, personal stories from seniors and an assortment of videos. Users can opt to change font size and color, or listen to spoken audio of the pages instead of reading.

Interested individuals can sign up to receive informative e-mails from the organization, and those who wish to teach seniors how to research health issues online can browse through the Trainer's Toolkit. The site was created by the National Library of Medicine together with the National Institute on Aging, both of which are sectors of NIH.[6]


Also See: FDA, Patient Assistance Programs, Drug Coupons, Prescription Drugs, Free Drug Samples, Johnson and Johnson Recall, Birth Control Recall



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