The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the nation’s medical research agency—making important discoveries that improve health and save lives. Thanks in large part to NIH-funded medical research, Americans today are living longer and healthier. NIH is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world, creating hundreds of thousands of high-quality jobs by funding thousands of scientists in universities and research institutions in every state across America and around the globe. NIH is made up of 27 Institutes and Centers, each with a specific research agenda, often focusing on particular diseases or body systems. NIH leadership plays an active role in shaping the agency's research planning, activities, and outlook.
Due in large measure to NIH research, a baby born in the United States today can expect to live to nearly age 79—about three decades longer than one born in 1900.
NIH employs more than 20,000 federal employees and contractros.
NIH is the largest biomedical research institution on Earth.
Thanks to anti-viral therapies developed by NIH-funded researchers, HIV-infected people in their 20s today can expect to live to age 70 and beyond.
As the leader of a research lab in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Justin Taraska oversees and conducts interesting, exciting experiments every day.
What sets the NIH apart from other opportunities?
I have always seen the NIH as the center of biomedical research in the U.S. since there’s a large concentration of world-class research and expertise in one place. The diversity of skills, projects, and interests here makes it possible to move experiments and projects forward really effectively.
What surprised you most when you first started?
I think the thing that surprised me most was how collaborative people are among institutes. I had always thought that the institute system was more separated, that people working in different institutes would really only be working among people in those institutes, but there is a lot of cross-institute collaboration that happens everyday.
Describe a favorite project that you are working on.
My lab collaborates with several groups from institutions in the DC area to determine the structure of cells using high-resolution imaging techniques that allows us to visualize cells on an extremely small scale. It really takes advantage of the breadth of skills at the NIH.
What competencies are in demand at the NIH? What kind of person would fit in?
It’s a very diverse place and there’s really room for many kinds of people. I think the ideal candidate would be someone who is curious, hardworking, and passionate about science and medicine. There’s definitely a new energy here, a lot of new people and new projects; it’s exciting.