Skip secondary menu

NINDS Overview


The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) conducts and supports research on brain and nervous system disorders. Created by the U.S. Congress in 1950, NINDS is one of the more than two dozen research institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH, located in Bethesda, Maryland, is an agency of the Public Health Service within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NINDS has occupied a central position in the world of neuroscience for more than 50 years.

More than 600 disorders afflict the nervous system. Common disorders such as stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and autism are well-known. Many other neurological disorders are rare-known only to the individuals and families affected, their doctors, and scientists who look to rare disorders for clues to a general understanding of the brain as well as for treatments for specific diseases. Neurological disorders strike an estimated 50 million Americans each year, exacting an incalculable personal toll and an annual economic cost of hundreds of billions of dollars in medical expenses and lost productivity.

The mission of NINDS is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. To accomplish this goal the NINDS supports and conducts basic, translational, and clinical research on the normal and diseased nervous system. The Institute also fosters the training of investigators in the basic and clinical neurosciences, and seeks better understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of neurological disorders.

Basic research pursues an understanding of the normal and abnormal structure and activities of the human nervous system. The knowledge gained from this research creates the foundation for diagnosing and treating brain disease. Some important areas of NINDS basic research include: biology of the cells of the nervous system, brain and nervous system development, genetics of the brain, cognition and behavior, neurodegeneration, brain plasticity and repair, neural signaling, learning and memory, motor control and integration, sensory function, and neural channels, synapses, and circuits. The great challenge of modern neuroscience is to translate the remarkable findings of basic science into useful therapies for those who suffer the devastating effects of neurological disorders. To facilitate this translation, NINDS supports many specific research projects and research resources that accelerate preclinical therapy development.

Clinical research applies directly to mechanisms of the diseases of the nervous system which can then be translated into disease detection, prevention, and treatment, such as studies of brain imaging techniques, trials to test new drugs, and development of novel therapies such as stem cell implants and gene transfer. Some key areas of NINDS clinical research include: neurological consequences of AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumors, developmental disorders, epilepsy, motor neuron diseases, muscular dystrophies, multiple sclerosis, neurogenetic disorders, pain, Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, sleep disorders, spinal cord injury, stroke, and traumatic brain injury.

Most NINDS-funded research is conducted by extramural scientists in public and private institutions, such as universities, medical schools, and hospitals. NINDS intramural scientists, working in the Institute’s laboratories, branches, and clinics, also conduct research in most of the major areas of neuroscience and on many of the most important and challenging neurological disorders.

The Institute’s interests, however, are not limited to NINDS programs. The Institute collaborates with other NIH components, as well as with other federal agencies, and with voluntary, professional and commercial organizations.

NINDS also is committed to laying the foundation for neuroscience in the years ahead. To achieve this goal, the Institute funds research training and development to help build the next generation of neuroscientists. In addition, NINDS serves as a prime source of neurological information for scientists, clinicians, and the public.

For more information about the research funded and supported by the NINDS, please visit our website at www.ninds.nih.gov or contact the Institute’s Brain Resources and Information Network (BRAIN) at:

BRAIN
P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, Maryland 20824
(800) 352-9424

Last updated February 10, 2014