The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health has announced a new strategic plan to guide its next decade of research, training, and education to reduce the national burden of cardiovascular, lung, blood, and sleep disorders.
"This plan sets the institute on a trajectory toward preempting disease by using emerging and sophisticated research approaches, adapting to a rapidly changing health care environment, and remaining flexible to invest in new research opportunities that offer the best potential for improving the nation’s health," said Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D, Director, NHLBI.
The plan sets forth three major goals that cover the scientific continuum from bench to bedside and address basic, clinical, and translational research. Realizing the future envisioned in the plan will require collaboration with many other organizations, both public and private, and with other agencies of the Federal government.
Powerful new research approaches in the fields of genetics, genomics, and imaging provide unprecedented opportunities to achieve the one of the three goals: to increase understanding of the molecular and physiological basis of health and disease.
An example of a new program to address this goal is one that will link genetic data from long-standing groups of clinical study participants with data about their health indicators and characteristics, and then make the data available to researchers - with appropriate privacy safeguards.
A second goal is to enhance knowledge of the clinical mechanisms of disease and thereby identify better approaches to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Addressing this goal will be enabled by new clinical research networks designed to investigate innovative approaches to promote establishment of standard treatment protocols to test new basic science discoveries and then foster rapid dissemination of research findings to health care professionals and the public.
The final goal is to improve the translation of research into practice for the benefit of personal and public health by seeking a better understanding of the processes for health behavior change. Approaches to be employed include those that will tie the development of guidelines for clinical practice to up-do-date scientific evidence and then promote their use through appropriately designed public education programs.
"We must close the gap between scientific discovery and the effective dissemination of research results into daily health practice, and then use the lessons learned from that effort to stimulate further scientific research," said Nabel.