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The Mission of the National Institute of Nursing Research

The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) advances science that transforms the health care profession and improves the well-being of countless Americans. The research supported by NINR spans the spectrum from fundamental studies of neural cell biology that have provided insight into neurodegenerative diseases to multisite clinical projects such as the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, which is improving knowledge about menopause and its effects on health.

NINR is home to researchers of all backgrounds, including biochemists, biologists, computer scientists, mathematicians, molecular geneticists, physiologists, psychologists, sociologists, and historians. These scientists, along with more than 6,000 nurse scientists at universities and hospitals around the country, are the backbone of our health care system and contribute to the knowledge base that nurses use every day to provide high-quality health care to all people.

The NINR mission has evolved over time to reflect the growing complexity of the health challenges facing the Nation. These challenges are not only driven by demographic changes and advances in medicine, but also by the fact that people are living longer with multiple chronic conditions and increasingly need help managing their care.

NINR scientists are at the forefront of addressing these challenges by expanding the understanding of complex biological processes and providing new tools for improving patient outcomes. For example, a study led by Dr. Mary Naylor demonstrates that transitional care in hospital to community settings can significantly improve health of older adults, reduce the number of days spent in the hospital and its associated costs, and increase overall patient satisfaction.

Other NINR researchers are exploring the challenges of end-of-life care. Dr. Amy Abernethy and colleagues in the NINR-supported Palliative Care Research Cooperative Group show that using simple, culturally appropriate methods to honor individual preferences for end-of-life care can significantly enhance quality of life for patients with advanced illness and their caregivers.

Researchers in NINR’s Division of Extramural Research develop a mobile app that allows users to record and report on pain intensity and location, while a device developed by Dr. Taura Barr allows patients to describe the subjective components of their pain using a visual interface.

NINR continues to strengthen the infrastructure that supports scientific advancement and translational science, especially in the areas of research career development and training opportunities for early- and mid-career scientists. This includes, but is not limited to, NINR-supported research fellowships for early and mid-career scientists; institutional research and training awards; scientific seminars, workshops, and symposia; and short courses in relevant research methodologies.

In addition, NINR is working to expand its capacity to identify and respond to emerging health challenges by assessing urgent and emerging issues on an ongoing basis, including the establishment of the ComPASS Initiative to catalyze, deploy, and evaluate community-led, innovative structural interventions that address the root causes of health disparities. These efforts, along with a renewed emphasis on good stewardship of public funds, are at the heart of NINR’s strategic plan, Advancing Science, Improving Lives: A Vision for Nursing Research.

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