Accomplishments of the NIH

The NIH supports thousands of research projects every year. A small sample of the accomplishments from 2003 includes the following:

  • The Human Genome Project—an ambitious international effort to identify the 30,000 genes in human DNA and determine the sequences of the three billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA—was completed two years ahead of schedule. The data was made freely available to scientists around the world.
  • New guidelines were published for the prevention, detection, and treatment of high blood pressure.
  • A new Ebola vaccine proved successful in monkeys, with human trials to follow.
  • The drug letrozol was shown to reduce recurrence of breast cancer.
  • The serotonin transporter gene was discovered to influence the onset and severity of depression.
  • Research showed that heart attack symptoms in women differ from those in men, which may help women and doctors identify the onset of an attack earlier.
  • Scientists found that the levels of two proteins, beta-amyloid and tau, distinguish Alzheimer's patients from controls. This discovery may lead to the development of predictive and diagnostic tools.
  • Combined estrogen and progestin therapy was found to increase the risk of dementia.
  • Scientists discovered that a greater than usual number of copies of the a-synuclein gene may cause Parkinson's disease.
  • A new West Nile Virus vaccine was shown to be effective in monkeys.
  • An international research team found that using cloth to filter water in poor countries reduced the incidence of cholera by half.
  • Paula Kepos cells, or to regenerate tissue, bone, and muscle). However, despite the potential value of these applications, political concerns have threatened to end funding for this kind of research. On August, 9, 2001, President George W. Bush announced his decision to allow federal funds to support research on existing human embryonic stem cell lines under certain limited conditions.
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