National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


This institute functions within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and seeks to gain fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system to reduce the burden of neurological disease. They attempt to foster a balance of basic, transactional and clinical research supporting most of the basic medical research in the field. The private sector supports little of this research because the return on investment is highly unpredictable.


NINDS basic research is divided between research on the normal development and working of the nervous system plus research related to disease mechanisms. The focus is on the following areas: neurodegeneration; the control of the environment of nerve cells by supporting cells; systems and cognitive neuroscience; nervous system repair and plasticity;  and, the role of genes in the normal and diseased nervous system .


An example of the research funded through this institute is the a recent study published in JAMA finding that diet is a major contributor to the increased risk of hypertension in black as compared to white Americans. The study addressed a leading cause of racial disparity in mortality and identified potential lifestyle changes that could reduce racial disparities in both stroke and heart disease.  Diets of high amounts of fried and processed foods as well as sweetened beverages was identified as the greatest risk factor. Other factors included salt intake and education levels while women has the additional risk factor contributing to racial differences of waist size and obesity. This is further speculated to affect the racial  life expectancy disparity.




JAMA Network Open


Reports a study looking at the link between obesity and stroke. It was reported that there is no direct causal link. However, there is what is termed a “supportive causal association”.  What this means is that a causal link can be found between obesity and a higher risk for type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. Both type 2 diabetes and CAD are high risk factors for stroke.