NIH: Office of Disease Prevention


Strategic Plan

The Office of Disease Prevention (ODP) Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2014–2018 (PDF - 3.28 MB) charts new directions for the Office over the next five years. Developed with input from a variety of stakeholders, the plan includes activities to carry out the ODP's mission and vision, strengthen existing programs, and develop new initiatives to advance the prevention research agenda at the NIH and improve the public health.

In January 2017, to assess progress, the ODP prepared a Mid-Course Review (PDF - 1.08 MB), which provides an overview of the accomplishments of each Strategic Priority and future opportunities.

Please click on each Strategic Priority below for background information, objectives, and a spotlight on progress.

Strategic Priority I

Systematically monitor NIH investments in prevention research and assess the progress and results of that research.

Spotlight on Progress

Prevention Abstract Classification Tool (PACT)/Taxonomy Project

The ODP developed new methods to better characterize the NIH prevention research portfolio, and as of early 2018, ODP staff has manually coded and classified more than 15,000 NIH grant abstracts across a variety of funding mechanisms awarded during Fiscal Years 2012–2017.

In 2013 and 2014, the ODP created a prevention research taxonomy and accompanying protocol to enable detailed and standardized classification of prevention research projects funded by the NIH. The taxonomy is a framework for classifying research and includes nearly 130 non-mutually exclusive topics grouped into six categories. The ODP developed a team-coding approach to apply the taxonomy to research grant abstracts. Custom software, called the Prevention Abstract Classification Tool (PACT), was created to record individual and team coding and calculate inter-rater reliability.

Additionally, the ODP collaborated with the NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis (OPA) to develop a novel machine learning (ML) approach and automate the coding process. Using ML algorithms to characterize prevention research funding at the NIH is an efficient way to help inform the agency's funding priorities. Work is also underway to refine and train the ML algorithms to identify specific details of individual prevention research grants based on the ODP taxonomy, such as the health condition(s), study population(s), research design(s), and type(s) of prevention research.

These efforts will help the ODP describe trends in NIH-funded prevention research and identify gaps in the NIH prevention research portfolio that could benefit from additional investments.


The ODP can play an important role in characterizing the portfolio of prevention research funded by the NIH. Currently, NIH prevention research is identified based on a broad definition of prevention that does not provide sufficient detail to classify studies into categories of interest. New methods are needed that identify characteristics of studies—such as topic area, study design, population studied—and summarize the findings in a meaningful way for program planning and reporting. This more specific characterization of the prevention research portfolio, along with portfolio analysis tools, would enable identification of patterns and trends, as well as research areas that may benefit from targeted efforts by the NIH Institutes and Centers. Such categorization also would enable assessment of the progress and changes in prevention research over time.


The objectives supporting Strategic Priority I focus on the development of a taxonomy for prevention research that can be used to analyze the broader NIH portfolio. The ODP also will ensure that this process appropriately aligns with other efforts at the NIH, such as the Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization process. Furthermore, the ODP will work closely with colleagues in the NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis to apply existing approaches and develop new tools to improve our understanding of NIH prevention research investments. Using these tools, the ODP will perform portfolio analyses to characterize the NIH prevention research portfolio and develop products (e.g., reports) that can be shared with collaborators within and outside of the NIH. The ODP will examine historical and prospective information using the new portfolio analysis tools to analyze the progress of NIH prevention research.

  • Objective I.1: Establish a taxonomy for prevention research that the ODP can apply to analyze the NIH prevention research portfolio.
  • Objective I.2: Develop, test, and implement portfolio analysis tools to classify NIH awards based on the taxonomy for prevention research.
  • Objective I.3: Develop and implement a process to regularly assess the progress and results of NIH investments in prevention research.

Learn more about Strategic Priority I

Strategic Priority II

Identify prevention research areas for investment or expanded effort by the NIH.

Spotlight on Progress

The ODP is working with U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) External Website Policy liaisons at the NIH to describe Institute and Center (IC) activities that address research gaps identified by the Task Force as having insufficient evidence to make a recommendation for or against a clinical preventive service. The goal is to identify areas in need of additional research, and coordinate with the ICs to address evidence gaps. The ODP will use a similar approach with the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) External Website Policy to close prevention research gaps in community settings.
Learn more about the ODP’s partnership with the USPSTF External Website Policy.

The ODP partners with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) to support national health initiatives, including Healthy People 2020. The ODP serves on the Healthy People Federal Interagency Workgroup and provides advice on numerous Healthy People activities to ensure that NIH input is provided.

The ODP hosted two Pathways to Prevention (P2P) workshops in 2014. These workshops identified research needs regarding the use of opioids in the treatment of chronic pain and for myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. For each workshop, a rigorous assessment of the available scientific evidence was conducted, and experts in the field presented their findings to an independent panel. Final reports from both workshops have been published.

Read more about our progress in the August 2015 Director's Message.


The ODP can assist NIH Institutes and Centers by identifying prevention research needs and gaps. In this process, the ODP should make use of the variety of prevention research data sources available, including, but not limited to, NIH portfolio analysis and reports from other federal agencies and task forces. Regular engagement with stakeholders such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF), and the extramural prevention research community also will inform the identification of prevention research areas for investment or expanded effort by the NIH. In addition, the ODP will work closely with colleagues at the NIH to promote a research agenda that examines a variety of issues including health disparities and social determinants of health, as well as the role of the environment in disease prevention, and improves health across the life course.


The objectives supporting Strategic Priority II include working with stakeholders to identify needs for prevention research, a comparison of those needs with the current NIH portfolio, and collaboration with the NIH Institutes and Centers to identify opportunities in prevention research for additional investment. Results of these efforts will be compiled and shared with others at the NIH to suggest areas that warrant further study; the ODP also will use these results to guide its own co-funding decisions. Strategic Priority II relies on building collaborations between the ODP and NIH Institutes and Centers, federal agencies, nonfederal task forces and other organizations that routinely conduct systematic evidence reviews (e.g., USPSTF, CPSTF, Cochrane Collaborative, Institute of Medicine), existing evidence-based public health initiatives (e.g., Healthy People), and other stakeholders to identify, promote, and address needs in prevention research.

  • Objective II.1:Work with stakeholders to identify needs in prevention research.
  • Objective II.2: Compare those needs to the current NIH portfolio to identify gaps in prevention research (i.e., those areas that are not being addressed or have insufficient funding).
  • Objective II.3: Coordinate activities across the ODP and with NIH Institutes and Centers to identify prevention research gaps and opportunities for investment or expanded effort.

Learn more about Strategic Priority II

Strategic Priority III

Promote the use of the best available methods in prevention research and support the development of better methods.

Spotlight on Progress

The ODP developed and launched a website that provides resources on research methods related to experiments that randomize groups or clusters or that deliver interventions to groups. The website includes a calculator to estimate sample size requirements for group- or cluster-randomized trials.

To enhance the quality of prevention research, the ODP sponsors monthly Medicine: Mind the Gap webinars that explore research design, measurement, intervention, data analysis, and other methods of interest in prevention science.

The ODP continues to maintain a list of NIH Training Opportunities in Prevention Research Methods on the ODP website. These training opportunities focus on study design, intervention design, data analysis, and measurement methods and include an online training course, developed by Dr. Murray, on Group Randomized Trials.

The winner of the 2018 ODP Early Stage Investigator Lecture will be announced January 15, 2018, and the award winner will give a presentation at the NIH on March 19, 2018. This lecture was developed to recognize early-career prevention scientists who have not competed successfully for a substantial NIH-supported research project, but who have already made substantial, outstanding research contributions to their respective fields and are poised to become future leaders in prevention research.

The ODP announced that the recipient of the 2018 Robert S. Gordon, Jr. Lecture in Epidemiology is Ana V. Diez Roux, M.D., M.P.H., Dean and Distinguished University Professor of Epidemiology at Drexel University's Dornsife School of Public Health. Dr. Diez Roux is internationally known for her research on the social determinants of population health and the study of how neighborhoods affect health. She will present her lecture on May 23, 2018, on the NIH main campus.

In fall 2017, the ODP released an updated version of the Prevention Research Expertise Survey (PRES), which provides researchers the opportunity to add their methodological and content expertise in prevention science to an electronic directory that NIH staff can use to find qualified reviewers for NIH study sections. The updates include more than 30 new topics and two new expertise categories so respondents can provide a clearer picture of their experience and interests. By helping review staff better identify individuals with appropriate methodological and content expertise to serve as peer reviewers, the ODP aims to improve the quality of prevention research supported by the NIH.


The best available methods in prevention research should be utilized to move the state of the science forward. Increased awareness of and training in the use of newer and more efficient approaches for research design, intervention development, measurement, and analysis are needed to improve both the quality and success of prevention research applications submitted to the NIH. Opportunities exist for the ODP to support the development of these methods and to encourage training in their use for a variety of audiences, including NIH program and review staff, intramural investigators, and the extramural community.


The objectives supporting Strategic Priority III include the development of a compendium of prevention science tools that focus on methods, measures, and analytic techniques. The ODP will identify training opportunities for NIH program and review staff and extramural investigators on methods research to foster better informed decisions and higher quality science in prevention research. The ODP will work with federal agencies that have interests in prevention science methods to share resources and materials. The ODP will work with the NIH Center for Scientific Review to identify experts in prevention science methods who could serve on NIH study sections. In collaboration with NIH Institutes and Centers, the ODP will develop Funding Opportunity Announcements to promote innovative research designs, new tools, and analytic techniques to help move the field of prevention science forward. The ODP also will work with experts in the field of methodology to identify and build consensus around best practices in prevention science.

  • Objective III.1: Develop a list of existing NIH and other federal resources pertaining to prevention science methodology.
  • Objective III.2: Provide training in prevention science methods to NIH program and review staff and to extramural investigators.
  • Objective III.3: Develop NIH Funding Opportunity Announcements that encourage innovative and improved approaches to prevention science.
  • Objective III.4: Work with stakeholders to identify and disseminate "best practices" in prevention science methods.

Learn more about Strategic Priority III

Strategic Priority IV

Promote collaborative prevention research projects and facilitate coordination of such projects across the NIH and with other public and private entities.

Spotlight on Progress

Over the past year, the ODP identified five successful models of collaborative research that were used to reorganize the Prevention Research Coordinating Committee (PRCC), and develop new prevention Scientific Interest Groups (SIGs). The SIGs focus on five areas for which no trans-NIH or federal group exists to address prevention research: screening in children; screening in adults; the genetics of prevention; environment, policy, and systems-level interventions; and interventions to prevent or delay the onset of comorbid diseases. In addition, the ODP is working within two trans-NIH groups on tobacco and physical activity, to address prevention research gaps in these areas. Anticipated products include funding opportunity announcements; workshops; identification of relevant resources; and improvements to the ODP website to highlight prevention research in these areas.

The ODP provides co-funding for a range of prevention research efforts including meetings, research grants, intramural projects, Healthy People 2020-related projects, systematic reviews, and public/private partnerships. In 2016, the ODP provided co-funding support for 33 of 35 co-funding applications. This included funding four training workshops on prevention research methods; three national, prevention-related conferences; and six NIH-supported meetings on various topics including dissemination and implementation research on walking and walkability and the effects of Mediterranean dietary patterns on disease. 2016 also marked the first time the ODP provided co-funding for NIH grants outside of conference grants. These grants supported clinical trials in weight control and infertility, weight control for pregnant women, the DASH-Sodium trial in adolescents, and cotinine analysis in pregnant women.


All of the NIH Institutes and Centers support prevention research in their own areas, which has helped to create a robust and diverse research portfolio that addresses a range of important scientific questions. Even so, enhanced collaboration and coordination among NIH Institutes and Centers, as well as with other research partners, could result in better outcomes and more efficient use of resources. The ODP will encourage coordination of prevention research across the NIH, throughout government, and with the private sector to identify common or cross-cutting topic areas and research questions, create an environment of collaboration, and improve complementary and collaborative efforts to enhance the return on investment for prevention research at the NIH. Collaborations can engage a range of public or private stakeholder organizations in identifying and working on research priorities.


The objectives supporting Strategic Priority IV will set the stage for collaborative research efforts in prevention research within the NIH, across government entities, and with the private sector. Examples of successful research collaborations will be sought and used as models for future efforts. Existing collaborative relationships will be continued or expanded, and new relationships will be forged with public and private entities that can partner on prevention research efforts. These activities will lead to a coordinated development of funding opportunities in partnership with NIH Institutes and Centers as well as with other organizations, which will strengthen the prevention research portfolio to advance scientific knowledge in order to improve public health.

  • Objective IV.1: Identify, document, and share best practices for research collaborations within the NIH and with other stakeholders.
  • Objective IV.2: Establish or promote infrastructures and processes to foster research coordination and collaboration across the NIH and with other public and private entities.
  • Objective IV.3: Coordinate NIH Funding Opportunity Announcements to address areas of need in prevention research.

Learn more about Strategic Priority IV

Strategic Priority V

Identify and promote the use of evidence-based interventions and promote the conduct of implementation and dissemination research in prevention.

Spotlight on Progress

To help bridge the gap between research and practice, the ODP recently developed a collection of resources for dissemination and implementation (D&I) researchers. This section includes:

The ODP has and continues to develop partnerships that improve the understanding of the D&I landscape at the NIH and in the extramural community. In 2017, the ODP participated in three funding opportunity announcements for D&I research with 17 other NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices. The ODP also supported and reviewed applicant abstracts for the Training Institute for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health External Website Policy, and assisted in planning, reviewing abstract submissions, and co-funding the 2017 Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation in Health External Website Policy.


Part of the mission of the ODP is to disseminate the results of high-quality, evidence-based disease prevention research; foster the use of evidence-based interventions in practice; and promote the further development of implementation and dissemination research in prevention. Opportunities exist for the ODP to facilitate these important activities. To expedite the identification and use of evidence-based prevention interventions, the ODP will collaborate with multiple partners and audiences, including NIH Institutes and Centers, service providers, and community organizations, to promote the dissemination of evidence-based disease prevention strategies and interventions with the potential to impact public health.


The objectives supporting Strategic Priority V will focus on the development of a web-based portal that provides access to evidence-based resources and best practices organized by different categories such as the patient population studied and research design. To ensure that credible information is provided, studies included must have undergone an independent systematic review by a credible government or privatesector agency. The ODP will work with stakeholders to promote the dissemination of best practices at the individual, organizational, community, and policy levels. To facilitate this process, the ODP will develop messages for stakeholders to use when communicating with various audiences about best practice models and effective interventions. The ODP also will work with NIH Institutes and Centers to develop strategies to promote implementation and dissemination research that examines both intervention-level features (e.g., core components, recruitment and retention strategies, training and implementation manuals/products, adaptation guides) and healthcare and community systems-level features (e.g., decision-making, selection, adoption, adaptation, management, financing, sustainability planning).

  • Objective V.1: Identify evidence-based interventions for disease prevention and present them in an organized structure.
  • Objective V.2: Enhance partnerships to promote the dissemination of evidence-based interventions for disease prevention.
  • Objective V.3: Enhance partnerships to promote research on dissemination and implementation of evidence-based interventions in prevention.

Learn more about Strategic Priority V

Strategic Priority VI

Increase the visibility of prevention research at the NIH and across the country.

Spotlight on Progress

In an effort to promote prevention research and improved research methods, the ODP maintains a list of NIH prevention-related funding opportunity announcements. Since January 2017, the ODP has added more than 220 active prevention-related grants to the ODP website.

In March 2017, the ODP launched a new website for the latest Pathways to Prevention (P2P) Workshop: Methods for Evaluating Natural Experiments in Obesity, with a new look and feel that improves the user experience and puts everything attendees need in one place. This year, the ODP is also hosting the first-ever P2P poster session and is conducting targeted outreach and promotion efforts to increase participation in this new opportunity.

The ODP developed a comprehensive promotion plan for its inaugural Early-Stage Investigator Award in May, including an NIH Record article, promotional materials, social media posts, and targeted emails to researchers and other relevant organizations. The ODP recorded the research presentations the awardees gave at the NIH and made the videos available for viewing on the ODP website.

The ODP recently developed an extensive collection of resources, references, and interactive tools for investigators conducting prevention-related dissemination and implementation (D&I) research. The ODP also developed messages to encourage stakeholders to easily spread the word about these D&I resources.

To learn more about the Office’s upcoming programs and events, join the ODP mailing list External Website Policy. You can also follow the ODP on Twitter at @NIHprevents External Website Policy and subscribe to the ODP YouTube External Website Policy channel.


The ODP will play a central role in disseminating information to broaden the scientific and public health impact of the NIH prevention research portfolio. The ODP can enhance prevention research by disseminating NIH prevention research and resources, strengthening partnerships to improve information dissemination, and gathering input and feedback from stakeholders including researchers, program and policy stakeholders, and the general public.


The objectives supporting Strategic Priority VI include the development of resources for the research community, the public, and other stakeholders. For example, the ODP will expand its website content by posting a list of NIH staff engaged in prevention research activities to promote networking and collaboration; explore the use of social media tools such as Facebook and blogs; create an e-newsletter about NIH prevention research activities and accomplishments; and optimize its website for mobile use to increase accessibility by stakeholders anywhere, anytime, and on any device. In addition, the ODP will promote the outcomes of all of its strategic planning efforts to ensure results reach the intended audiences. The ODP also will identify and develop a stakeholder community that includes the NIH, the HHS, and other public and private organizations and work with that community to advance communications, collaborations, and other actions to help disseminate information about prevention research.

  • Objective VI.1: Increase the availability of information about prevention research through the use of traditional and digital communication tools.
  • Objective VI.2: Increase communications and collaborations with stakeholders to coordinate communications about disease prevention.
  • Objective VI.3: Support Strategic Priorities I–V via the ODP website and other communication tools.

Learn more about Strategic Priority VI

Cover of American Journal of Public Health, January 2015 IssueThe ODP strategic plan was highlighted in the January 2015 issue of the American Journal of Public Health in the article, Enhancing the Quality of Prevention Research Supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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