National Institutes of Health (NIH)

NIH is the nation’s steward of medical and behavioral research. Its mission is science in pursuit of fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.


Nanotechnology can produce tools that help NIH advance opportunities to develop novel diagnostics and therapeutics, as well as tools enabling research at cellular and sub-cellular levels. The emergence of nanotechnology has opened a new era of design-driven research into the development of unique 3D nanomaterials and nanostructures with the potential for significant clinical impact across a range of diseases and disorders. The NIH continues to expand its support for nanoscale engineering of multifunctional systems for drug and gene therapy, nanostructures for tissue engineering, and a variety of other biomedical applications, in addition to research tools that aid in understanding the underlying causes of diseases.


Progress continues in development of sensors that are both selective and highly sensitive, for early diagnosis of disease (when disease is easiest to treat). Multifunctional nanoparticles are being developed to deliver conventional or novel therapeutics directly to the specific tissues or cells in the body that are affected by disease, sparing healthy cells from drug side-effects. Nanotechnology-based research tools are being used to better understand the causes and course of diseases, and the effects of genetics and environment on individual patients. NIH plays a substantial role in developing understanding of how to design nanoparticles so they can be safe to use both for manufacturing and for medical treatments. Commercialization is facilitated through funding of SBIR/STTR grants and programs at the various NIH institutes that encourage universities and companies to collaborate, and by providing resources and expertise to test novel formulations for safety and biological activity.


Marin P. Allen, Ph.D., Deputy Associate Director for Communications and Public Liaison and
Director of Public Information

Lori Henderson, Ph.D.
Program Director, NCI Clinical Trials


Available through NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.