Objective 4.2: Invest in the research enterprise and the scientific workforce to maintain leadership in the development of innovations that broaden our understanding of disease, healthcare, public health, and human services resulting in more effective interventions, treatments, and programs

HHS is investing in strategies to support the research enterprise and the scientific workforce.  HHS works to build public trust by upholding scientific integrity and quality.  HHS is also working to recruit, retain, and develop a diverse and inclusive scientific workforce to conduct basic and applied research in disease, healthcare, public health, and human services.  HHS supports innovation in how research is supported, conducted, and translated into interventions that improve health and well-being.

Objectives represent the changes, outcomes and impact the HHS Strategic Plan is trying to achieve.  This objective is informed by data and evidence, including the information below.

  • NIH is pursuing a data-driven scientific approach to growing a diverse workforce pipeline.  Progress has been made in several key areas to increase diversity of NIH award applicants and recipients as well as mentees in the scientific academic pipeline.  (Source: NIH Scientific Workforce Diversity Actions and Progress: 2014-2019)
  • Some populations (e.g., ethnic and cultural minority communities, marginalized groups) may be underrepresented in efforts to build evidence in human service interventions, eventually widening equity gaps.  Possible approaches to addressing research disparities include: (1) Engage community partners in research; (2) Prioritize rigor, not rigidity, in research design; (3) Acknowledge challenges to community-based research; and, (4) Use innovative research designs.  (Source: Evidence and Equity: Challenges for Research Design)
  • The rapid proliferation of health informatics and digital health innovations has revolutionized clinical and research practices and will continue to have accelerated growth and a substantial impact on population health.  (Source: Back to the Future: Achieving Health Equity Through Health Informatics and Digital Health)
  • Concerns remain about how these promising technological advances can lead to unintended consequences such as perpetuating health and healthcare disparities for under-resourced populations.  Health informatics and digital health scientific communities should understand the challenges faced by disadvantaged groups, including racial and ethnic minorities, which hinder their achievement of ideal health.  (Source: Back to the Future: Achieving Health Equity Through Health Informatics and Digital Health)
  • Translation is the process of turning observations in the laboratory, clinic and community into interventions that improve the health of individuals and the public—from diagnostics and therapeutics to medical procedures and behavioral changes.  (Source: Translational Science Spectrum)

Contributing OpDivs and StaffDivs

AHRQ, ASPE, ASPR, CDC, FDA, HRSA, NIH, OASH, OCR, and OGA work to achieve this objective.

HHS OpDivs and StaffDivs engage and work with a broad range of partners and stakeholders to implement the strategies and achieve this Objective.  They include: the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV), Allergenic Products Advisory Committee, Blood Products Advisory Committee, Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN), Cellular, Tissue, and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee, Toxicology in the 21st Century (Tox21), and Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.


Uphold scientific integrity to promote public trust in the quality of the research enterprise, ensuring sensitivity to the culture of the researched and promotion of their participation and ownership of the research process

  • Ensure the quality and integrity of research and research findings through education and training of the scientific workforce.
  • Strengthen regulatory and compliance capacity to account for the rapid increase in research technology and data capabilities, including investing in HHS offices with oversight of research integrity, human research protections, and animal care and use.
  • Develop and implement approaches, including developing and disseminating guidelines, standards, policies, or regulations, that enhance the integrity and quality of HHS-funded research by promoting a climate that incentivizes research conducted responsibly, with rigor and integrity in accordance with these expectations and those of the relevant scientific discipline.
  • Promote transparency and awareness by informing the public on efforts across the Department to ensure the scientific integrity in all research and evidence-building activities.

Recruit, retain, and develop a diverse and inclusive scientific workforce to conduct basic and applied research in disease, healthcare, public health, and human services

  • Expand and deploy evidence-based training, mentorship interventions, fellowships, and other workforce development initiatives that support scientists, especially underrepresented scientists, through critical points of transition in their career trajectories.
  • Increase research and practice opportunities for a diverse range of investigators to address social determinants of health and advance health equity in populations with health disparities.
  • Attract, develop, and retain the scientific workforce by establishing a talent management strategic plan with input from government, industry, and academic stakeholders.
  • Retain staff with expertise in scientific and research methods using recognition, training, and retention incentives to ensure that the scientific workforce has the skills and expertise necessary to adopt and implement the most innovative statistical and scientific methods.
  • Support scientists as they embark on, transition to, and sustain independent research careers to sustain the research enterprise.

Support, conduct, and translate research into interventions that improve the health and well-being for all

  • Support and promote the development of partnerships between academic research organizations and health department, healthcare providers, community-based health organizations, and community organizations for relevant rapid implementation research and community-based participatory research to engage communities impacted by the research in the development and dissemination of the research.
  • Identify and address barriers to collaboration and data sharing within HHS and other federal agencies, academic and public health partners, and private industry to make it easier to conduct cross-cutting, high impact, transdisciplinary, innovative research.
  • Expand the availability and accessibility to tools, technologies, knowledge repositories, and training to ensure the nation’s research institutions have the capacity, technology, and infrastructure they need to design and execute impactful research programs that benefit multiple communities to help achieve the HHS mission.
  • Partner with educational institutions that serve underserved populations to implement technical assistance outreach programs to increase awareness of research funding opportunities and increase the competitiveness of submitted research applications.
  • Promote cross-functional and, importantly, cross-division efforts to identify emerging promising technologies and establish frameworks for the ethical development, study, and use of these technologies.
  • Provide research grants for areas that are cutting edge in technology or disease and grow those resources.
  • Fund opportunities for research implementing and evaluating community-based and culturally-competent models of healthcare and human services delivery to improve the quality of care received by racial and ethnic minority and sexual minority populations.
  • Establish innovative funding opportunities to identify sources for community partners working on areas of concern who can also provide the health and human services communities with best practices in achieving positive results in interventions, treatments, and programs.
  • Support research and innovation to strengthen implementation of evidence-based recommendations for preventive health services in public health and healthcare settings among people that have been underserved.

Performance Goals

The HHS Annual Performance Plan provides information on the Department’s measures of progress towards achieving the goals and objectives described in the HHS Strategic Plan for FY 2022–2026.  Below are the related performance measures for this Objective.

  • By 2025, develop or evaluate the efficacy or effectiveness of new or adapted prevention interventions for substance use disorders (SUD)
  • Provide research training for predoctoral trainees and fellows that promotes greater retention and long-term success in research careers
  • Increase the total number of mentored research career development experiences for trainees from diverse backgrounds, including groups underrepresented in biomedical research, to promote individual development and to prepare them for a range of research-related careers
  • Maintain the yearly number of undergraduate students with mentored research experiences through the IDeA (Institutional Development Award) Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program in order to sustain a pipeline of undergraduate students who will pursue health research careers
  • Percentage of scientists retained at FDA after completing Fellowship or Traineeship programs
  • Conduct and disseminate policy relevant research reports on rural health issues

Learn More About HHS Work in this Objective

  • All of Us: This NIH program will enroll at least one million volunteers who will provide data on their biology, the environment, and lifestyle factors.  All of Us has the potential to advance the prevention and treatment of on a wide range of diseases, both common and rare, and ultimately to support personalized medicine.
  • BARDA DRIVe: Works to revolutionize the way we prevent, detect, and respond to major 21st century health security threats.  DRIVe programs accelerate the development and availability of transformative technologies and approaches to protect Americans from health security threats.
  • Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot: This initiative aims to accelerate cancer research by making more therapies available to more patients, while also improving our ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage.
  • Centers of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (CERSI): FDA builds a network of strategic alliances with academia for emerging regulatory science research, training, and education.
  • Drug Development Tool (DDT) Qualification Programs: Drug Development Tools (DDTs) are methods, materials, or measures that have the potential to facilitate drug development.  Having qualified DDTs that can be used by many sponsors helps optimize drug development and evaluation.  The 21st Century Cures Act defines a three-stage qualification process allowing use of a qualified DDT across drug development programs.
  • Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST): This NIH program aims to enhance and maintain cultures of inclusive excellence in the biomedical research community, which establish and sustain scientific environments that cultivate and benefit from a full range of talent.
  • Rural Health Research Centers and Analysis Initiatives: The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) currently funds Rural Health Research Centers and Rural Health Policy Analysis Initiatives, located throughout the nation.  All research of these designated centers is conducted on a national scale.
  • Next Generation Researchers Initiative (NGRI): This NIH initiative seeks to cultivate and support talent entering the biomedical and behavioral research workforce.  NIH aims to bolster opportunities for early-stage investigators.
  • NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for FYs 2021–2025: The plan outlines NIH’s vision for biomedical research direction, capacity, and stewardship by articulating the highest priorities of NIH over the next five years.

Content created by Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE)
Content last reviewed