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Future Directions in NIDCD Program Areas

In consultation with communication research scientists and the public, the NIDCD has identified four Priority Areas that have the potential to increase our understanding of the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech, and language and to further our knowledge in human communication sciences. They are:

Priority Area 1

Understanding Normal Function: Deepen our understanding of the mechanisms underlying normal function of the systems of human communication. By defining what is normal in both animal models and humans, we can better understand mechanisms of disease.

Priority Area 2

Understanding Diseases and Disorders: Increase our knowledge of the mechanisms of diseases, disorders, and dysfunctions that impair human communication and health. Understanding mechanisms that underlie diseases and disorders is an important step in developing better prevention and treatment strategies.

Priority Area 3

Improving Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention: Develop, test, and improve diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases, disorders, and dysfunctions of human communication and health. Diagnosis considers normal function and provides targets for prevention and treatment. Improvements in prevention and treatment lead to better outcomes with fewer side effects.

Priority Area 4

Improving Outcomes for Human Communication: Accelerate the translation of research discoveries into practice; increase access to health care; and enhance the delivery, quality, and effectiveness of care to improve personal and public health. Scientifically validated prevention and treatment models will lead to better personal and public health only if they are translated effectively into routine practice.

Although the Priority Areas described in this Plan help the NIDCD identify promising scientific opportunities to advance human communication research over the next five years, the NIDCD will continue to fund as much meritorious research as possible within our program areas of hearing and balance; taste and smell; and voice, speech, and language.

The Plan is not a comprehensive list of all research areas that NIDCD is currently supporting or plans to support in the future. Basic and clinical research being supported by NIDCD will continue to be given high priority. The NIDCD is committed to supporting new, innovative, hypothesis-driven, meritorious research, which can lead to improving the overall health and quality of life for people with communication disorders.