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Strategic Planning for Supported Research

NIDDK uses multiple dynamic strategic planning approaches to build on scientific discoveries, pursue promising research avenues, and maximize the public investment in research. The strategic planning approaches include:

  • formal plans and reports that incorporate input from external scientific experts, patients, and the public 
  • internal planning processes, which may lead to new workshops, initiative concepts, or other efforts

NIDDK's strategic planning approaches aim to advance high-priority research and complement the Institute’s support of investigator-initiated studies. Investigator-initiated research is the largest category within NIDDK’s budget and is a major driver of innovation and critical to the NIDDK mission. Investigator-initiated research discoveries also inform the Institute’s planning efforts.

Formal Plans and Reports

NIDDK has developed an overarching, 5-year NIDDK Strategic Plan for Research which presents a broad vision for accelerating research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of diseases and conditions under the Institute’s mission and complements disease-specific planning efforts.  Additionally, NIDDK develops other formal strategic plans, research progress reports, and burden of disease reports. Core elements of these strategic planning efforts often include:

  • obtaining input from other NIH components and external sources, including non-NIH scientists, patients, scientific professional organizations, health advocacy groups, health care providers, and the public
  • considering the burden of illness and state-of-the-science in the areas being addressed
  • addressing health disparities and identifying research opportunities for advancing health equity across the Institute’s mission
  • assessing basic, clinical, and translational research gaps, challenges, and opportunities
  • planning approaches to enhance training, career development, and diversity in the research workforce
  • developing goals, recommendations, and strategies to advance research progress over several years (typically 5 to 10)
  • posting draft plans on the web for a public comment period and then posting on the NIDDK or other NIH websites in final form
  • distributing planning documents and related reports and information broadly, in venues such as the NIDDK website, press releases, social media, and scientific journals

In general, the Institute initiates these planning efforts; however, efforts may also be requested by Congress, or established by the NIH Director.

Internal Planning Processes

NIDDK also engages regularly in robust internal discussions to identify research opportunities and set priorities. These activities include:

  • NIDDK’s annual initiative concept development process, which requires NIDDK scientific program staff to review the research portfolio and identify scientific needs and opportunities
  • other planning and prioritization activities by NIDDK that occur in monthly meetings, retreats, and other activities of the Institute’s scientific divisions and offices

Internal planning and the Institute’s formal plans and reports are also informed by:

  • feedback from the Institute’s National Advisory Council, a diverse body whose members are drawn from the broad research community and the public
  • input from NIDDK staff meetings with patient advocacy groups and scientific and medical organizations
  • discussions at meetings of interagency coordinating committees chaired by NIDDK, for diseases in the Institute's mission
  • research advances and opportunities published in the scientific literature and presented at national scientific meetings
  • scientific meetings and workshops, through which staff can review progress toward strategic planning goals, periodically assess the state-of-the-science, and seek expert input on newly emerging discoveries and technological approaches that may inform future research directions
  • NIH-wide working groups and committees focused on different diseases, conditions, and cross-cutting research areas
  • input from other committees that include members external to NIDDK 


As a result of its planning activities, NIDDK generates a variety of outputs to ensure that plans are actively pursued to create new scientific knowledge and to develop new prevention and treatment strategies. Outputs may include:

  • promoting and disseminating formal reports and plans
    • For example, strategic plans and reports are posted and promoted on the NIDDK website and highlighted on social media channels to encourage research from investigators in the areas of opportunity identified through the planning process.
  • developing research solicitations (e.g., Notices of Funding Opportunities) that highlight priority research areas and encourage research in these areas
  • organizing scientific meetings and workshops
Last Reviewed May 2023