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Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) National Institutes of Health  •  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

What Is the NIH Common Fund?

The NIH Common Fund was created by the NIH in 2004 and enacted into law by Congress through the 2006 NIH Reform Act to support cross-cutting, trans-NIH programs. Because NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) regularly collaborate in areas of shared interest, the IC Directors and the NIH Leadership developed specific criteria for Common Fund programs. Primary among these criteria is that Common Fund programs are expected to have exceptionally high impact and to transform the way research is conducted. All Common Fund programs are relevant to multiple diseases. They address common challenges that are faced by investigators working in multiple disease areas.

The Common Fund supports programs that address fundamental knowledge gaps, develop transformative tools and technologies, and/or foster innovative approaches to complex problems. These programs are supported for a limited duration of 5–10 years. Long-term support is not consistent with the intent of the Common Fund. A limited duration keeps the fund nimble and able to respond to new opportunities and emerging challenges. It also allows the NIH to regularly test new ways of fostering innovative science. Common Fund programs use these 5–10 years of support to develop tools and technologies and establish new scientific paradigms which can then be adopted by the community through IC-funded awards.

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This page last reviewed: May 27, 2008