National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH

Research Priorities and Procedures

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is one of the 27 institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIAAA supports and conducts research on the impact of alcohol use on human health and well-being. It is the largest funder of alcohol research in the world. NIAAA-funded discoveries have important implications for improving the health and well-being of all people. As part of NIH, NIAAA leads the national effort to reduce alcohol-related problems by:

  • Conducting and supporting alcohol-related research in a wide range of scientific areas including genetics, neuroscience, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment;
  • Coordinating and collaborating with other research institutes and federal programs on alcohol-related issues;
  • Collaborating with international, national, state, and local institutions, organizations, agencies, and programs engaged in alcohol-related work; and
  • Translating and disseminating research findings to health care providers, researchers, policymakers, and the public.

The goals of NIAAA research are to:

  • Better understand the health risks and benefits of consuming alcohol, as well as why it can cause addiction;
  • Identify the biological and socio-cultural origins of why people respond to alcohol differently;
  • Develop effective prevention and treatment strategies that address the risks for the physical, behavioral, and social consequences that result from excessive drinking or other forms of alcohol misuse; and
  • Reduce the stigma associated with alcohol use problems.

To accomplish these objectives, NIAAA supports an integrated, multidisciplinary research program that covers the full spectrum of scientific inquiry, including basic laboratory research, research involving animal models and systems, and human clinical and epidemiologic studies.

Strategic plan development and funding priorities at NIAAA follow standard procedures used by Institutes and Centers across NIH. Strategic funding plans and research funding priorities are set through consideration of:

  • Guidance from the institute’s National Advisory Council
  • Reviews of current research portfolios and recommendations of National Advisory Council subcommittees
  • NIH-wide research priorities and special programs
  • Emerging trends and technical advances
  • Advice from scientific experts within NIH, the external research community, and other stakeholders

A description of different types of NIH research grant funding approaches (e.g., investigator-initiated funding vs. targeted funding) can be found on the NIH Web site: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/planning_application.htm.

NIAAA’s strategic plan is available on the NIAAA Web site at http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/about-niaaa/our-work/strategic-plan. Funding decisions are made through the competitive NIH two-tier review process which includes assessment of a project’s scientific and technical merit by an independent peer review panel and consideration by the Institute’s Advisory Council, as described in http://grants.nih.gov/grants/peer_review_process.htm and http://grants.nih.gov/grants/PeerReview22713webv2.pdf. The Council then makes recommendations based on alignment of the application with the research priorities of the NIH Institute/Center. During the application process and after a study is funded, NIH monitors adherence to proper research procedures. Funded studies must follow all NIH and PHS guidelines for the proper conduct of research studies.