Creating Biomedical Technologies to Improve Health


Introduction to NIBIB

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) is dedicated to improving human health through the integration of the physical and biological sciences. The research agenda of the NIBIB will dramatically advance the Nation’s health by improving the detection, management, understanding, and ultimately, the prevention of disease.

Created December 29, 2000, the NIBIB is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), within the Department of Health and Human Services; the Federal government’s premier biomedical research agency. NIBIB-supported research brings advances in fields ranging from physics to nanotechnology to bear on the challenges of diagnosing, preventing and treating disease. Ultimately, the NIBIB seeks to translate research findings from the laboratory to the patient to improve quality of life and reduce the burden of disease. Health care and technology have long been linked in the United States. Today, cardiac pacemakers, mammograms, sustained-release medications, and artificial hips are but a few examples of how biomedical imaging and bioengineering are transforming health care.

Biomedical imaging is an indispensable tool for the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of diseases. In the early twentieth century, incremental advances in imaging were achieved at a relatively slow rate. However, in the last 40 years, improvements and new discoveries in imaging technology have occurred much more rapidly. The x-rays of over 100 years ago have been replaced by the discovery of ultrasound, optical imaging, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Now, researchers and physicians can choose to image not only the entire body or individual organs, but even specific cells or molecules within an organ or tissue.
NIBIB is building on these advances by supporting pioneering research to develop new technologies and to improve existing imaging systems. For example, an NIBIB-supported scientist is using sophisticated imaging technologies to improve surgical techniques for treating weakened knees and joints.
These are just a few examples of the imaging and bioengineering projects under way. Other examples of innovative technologies supported by the NIBIB include:
  • Ways to treat medical problems based on an individual’s genetic makeup.
  • Light-based tools used in medicine and surgery that provide new ways to study, diagnose, and treat medical problems.
  • Smart sensors that use chemical and physiological signals from the body to release drugs at the right dose in the right place at the right time.
  • New imaging technologies and improvements in existing technologies to improve the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases.
  • Drug delivery devices such as microneedles to painlessly deliver drugs and implantable devices that release drugs as needed.
  • Tissue engineering research to promote the growth of skin on burn victims, restore vision in damaged eyes, and generate new organs for transplant.
The NIBIB is committed to driving medical innovation and expanding biomedical knowledge for this and future generations. The Institute envisions a day when disease is preventable, health is predictable, and many of today’s medical treatments are a thing of the past.