The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has outlined it 2016 research year in review, detailing work done on atomic imaging for drug and protein interactions, biomarkers for prostate cancer, opioid efficacy, and the importance of palliative care. Often lauded as an example of the positive impact that federal agencies can have on Americans, NIH has received welcome support and funding from both sides of the aisle. The research, clinical trials, treatments, and cures that come out of the NIH are life changing and life saving, and all parties in congress recognize its importance. 

A question that’s frequently asked is where the money goes and into what programs is funding allocated. It’s often asked by elected officials, presidential administrative leaders, investigative reporters, and even the American public. To answer these essential questions, the NIH has published the year in review, highlighting research that includes the following priority areas.

  • Visualizing a cancer drug target at atomic resolution: Understanding how the drug and protein interact at an atomic level can allow scientists to design new drugs to alter the target protein’s function.
  • Biomarker signatures of prostate cancer: Identifying more than 130 proteins that differed between fluid samples collected from patients with prostate-confined tumors and those with tumors that had spread beyond the gland.
  • Designing more effective opioids: Using computer modeling, evaluating each compound in over 1 million structural configurations to determine how well the molecules can physically interact with receptors. 
  • Palliative care improves quality of life in cancer patients: Comprehensive treatment to ease the discomfort, symptoms, and stress of serious or life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer, dementia, or heart and lung conditions, provides emotional and social support to patients and caregivers. 

These priorities, along with many other advances and breakthroughs, continue to push the boundaries of scientific discovery and save lives for millions of people. This offers a small glimpse into the work being done at national level through NIH-led research programs.