Stuff I Didn’t Know About: The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health

While I’m very aware of the limits of my science policy knowledge, sometimes I still get surprised.  Today’s case in point: The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH).  Created by Congress in 1990, the goals of the Foundation are centered around creating and supporting public-private partnerships to support the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) research mission.  You might think, as I did, that with the NIH being a big player in U.S. biomedical research, that a facilitator wasn’t exactly necessary.  However, the FNIH is in a position to do things that the NIH cannot, such as accessing and organizing financial resources to support new partnerships.  Some examples of what the FNIH does:

  • serves as a neutral convener of NIH and other partners, encouraging open dialog and collaboration to approach problems from every angle
  • draws on private-sector expertise to access and organize the widest possible range of financial resources
  • leverages funding and resources from all stakeholders for the maximum possible impact
  • accelerates the implementation of high-priority projects by procuring services in innovative ways
  • applies successful industry-centric practices to large and complex programs
  • expedites the application of new technologies developed by private entities
  • promotes private entrepreneurial development, ownership and operation of assets

That there is a need for an organization like FNIH demonstrates, at least to me, the huge expenses involved in biomedical research and in translating that research to effective medical practices. Since a lot of private money and private companies in this field rely on proprietary information, I understand how a third-party-like convener like FNIH could make it easier to collaborate with competitors and the government. It is interesting that you don’t hear about this Foundation all that much, because I think the kind of work it does could serve as a model for other fields that have challenges in getting research knowledge to the public, and in getting useful practice information into the hands of researchers.


One thought on “Stuff I Didn’t Know About: The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health

  1. Pingback: S And T Policy Communities Seem to Ignore Agriculture « Pasco Phronesis

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