Disciplines & Approaches

Disciplines and approaches include research areas that cut across multiple diseases and conditions such as basic immunology, diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and medical countermeasures to prevent and treat the many infectious, immune-mediated, and allergic diseases. NIAID also supports research in many Diseases & Conditions.

Antimicrobial (Drug) Resistance

Bacteria, fungi, and other microbes evolve over time and can develop resistance to antimicrobial drugs. Microbes naturally develop resistance; however, using antibiotics too often in humans and animals and in cases where antibiotics are not an appropriate treatment can make resistance develop more quickly.

Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in brown surrounded by cellular debris in orange.

Antiviral Program for Pandemics

The Antiviral Program for Pandemics (APP) aims to develop safe and effective antivirals to combat SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as to build sustainable platforms for targeted drug discovery and development of a robust pipeline of antivirals against viruses with pandemic potential.

A blue illustration of a generic virus shape.

Biodefense and Related Programs

NIAID supports research and development of medical countermeasures against emerging diseases and terrorist threats such as radiation exposure and chemical weapons.

Virologist using a centrifuge inside a BSL-4 suite

Genomics & Advanced Technologies

Research fields, such as genomics, proteomics, and systems biology, are creating a wealth of information about infectious and immune-mediated diseases. Through the use of advanced technologies, researchers are developing a clearer understanding of pathogens, disease, and host immunity.

A close-up image (gloved hand and test tube) of scientist studying varicella zoster virus (VZV), the cause of chickenpox and shingles.

Global Research

NIAID conducts and supports basic and applied research to better understand, treat, and ultimately prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases. For more than 60 years, NIAID research has led to new therapies, vaccines, diagnostic tests, and other technologies that have improved the health of millions of people in the United States and around the world.

Map of the world showing research locations

Immune System Research

The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from infection. Although scientists have learned much about the immune system, they continue to study how the body targets invading microbes, infected cells, and tumors while ignoring healthy tissues.

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of a natural killer cell from a human donor

Minority Health & Health Disparities

Health disparities are gaps in the quality of health and health care that mirror differences in socioeconomic status, racial and ethnic background, and education level. These disparities may stem from many factors, including accessibility of health care, increased risk of disease from occupational exposure, and increased risk of disease from underlying genetic, ethnic, or familial factors.

Girls on playground slide.

Neglected Tropical Diseases

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), such as dengue, lymphatic filariasis, trachoma, and leishmaniasis, are called "neglected," because they generally afflict the world's poor and historically have not received as much attention as other diseases.

Image of a female Aedes mosquito.

Pandemic Preparedness

NIAID pandemic preparedness focuses predominantly on viruses that could cause epidemics or pandemics and prioritizes research on prototype-pathogens, representative pathogens from viral families known to infect humans, and high-priority pathogens most likely to threaten human health.

Refer to caption for description


Vaccines stimulate the immune system to produce immune responses that protect against infection. Vaccines provide a safe, cost-effective and efficient means of preventing illness, disability and death from infectious diseases.

Third participant enrolled in VRC 207 receives a dose of the investigational NIAID/GSK Ebola vaccine

Vector Biology

Arthropod vectors, including insects and ticks, can transmit infectious disease pathogens among humans or between animals and humans. NIAID conducts and supports a comprehensive vector biology research program to advance science and identify approaches that will help control or prevent the transmission of vector-borne pathogens to humans.

Photo of annopheles gambiae mosquito being injected with hemolymph for malaria study

Women's Health

Women face unique health problems related to many NIAID mission areas—specifically, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, and autoimmune disorders. Many infectious and autoimmune diseases affect female populations disproportionately.

Image of three women scientists in a lab