Disciplines & Approaches

Disciplines and approaches include research areas that cut across multiple diseases and conditions such as basic immunology, diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and medical countermeasures to prevent and treat the many infectious, immune-mediated, and allergic diseases. NIAID also supports research in many Diseases & Conditions.

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and a dead human neutrophil
Credit: NIAID

Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus during interaction with a human neutrophil

Microbes, collectively, include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. For the past 70 years, antimicrobial drugs, such as antibiotics, have been successfully used to treat patients with bacterial and infectious diseases.

Credit: NIAID

Virologist Kyle Rosenke, Ph.D., using a centrifuge inside a BSL-4 suite at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories Integrated Research Facility. A centrifuge rotor tool is in the foreground.

NIAID supports research and early development of medical countermeasures against terrorist threats from infectious diseases, radiation exposure and chemical threats to the civilian population.

A close-up image (gloved hand and test tube) of scientist studying varicella zoster virus (VZV), the cause of chickenpox and shingles.
Credit: NIAID

Varicella zoster virus DNA study in the NIAID Laboratory of Clinical Investigation's medical virology laboratory.

Research fields, such as genomics, proteomics, and systems biology, are creating a wealth of information about infectious and immune-mediated diseases. Through the use of advanced technologies, researchers are developing a clearer understanding of pathogens, disease, and host immunity.

Map of the world showing research locations.
Credit: NIAID

The map identifies 119 countries with NIAID-funded activities in fiscal year 2017. Funding is concentrated in many of the countries located in North and South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, and Eastern and Southern Africa.

NIAID conducts and supports basic and applied research to better understand, treat, and ultimately prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases. For more than 60 years, NIAID research has led to new therapies, vaccines, diagnostic tests, and other technologies that have improved the health of millions of people in the United States and around the world. NIAID is one of the 27 Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Credit: NIAID

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of a natural killer cell from a human donor. 

The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from infection.

Image of a female Aedes mosquito.
Credit: NIAID

A female Aedes mosquito.

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), such as dengue, lymphatic filariasis, trachoma, and leishmaniasis, are called "neglected," because they generally afflict the world's poor and historically have not received as much attention as other diseases. NTDs tend to thrive in developing regions of the world, where water quality, sanitation, and access to health care are substandard. However, some of these diseases also are found in areas of the United States with high rates of poverty.

Third participant enrolled in VRC 207 receives a dose of the investigational NIAID/GSK Ebola vaccine
Credit: NIAID

A 26-year-old man, the third participant enrolled in VRC 207, receives a dose of the investigational NIAID/GSK Ebola vaccine at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD.

Vaccines take advantage of your body’s natural ability to learn how to combat many disease-causing germs, or microbes, that attack it. Vaccines provide safe, cost-effective, and efficient means of preventing illness, disability, and death from infectious diseases.

Photo of annopheles gambiae mosquito being injected with hemolymph for malaria study
Credit: NIAID

An anopheles gambiae mosquito is shown being injected with hemolymph, the insect's primary circulatory fluid, as part of a malaria study.

The Vector Biology Research Program supports research to discover new ways to prevent the spread of diseases transmitted to humans by vectors – organisms that transmit pathogens to vertebrate hosts. NIAID supports research on a wide range of vectors, including mollusks (certain fresh-water snails) and blood-feeding arthropods, such as mosquitoes, ticks, mites, triatomine bugs, and certain flies (including sand flies and tsetse flies).