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Important Events in the National Institute of Nursing Research History

November 20, 1985 ­ Public Law 99-158, the Health Research Extension Act of 1985 becomes law. Among other provisions, the law authorizes the National Center for Nursing Research (NCNR) at NIH.

April 16, 1986 ­ Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announces the establishment of NCNR at NIH.

December 3, 1986 ­ the DHHS secretary appoints members of the NCNR Advisory Council.

February 17, 1987 ­ The first meeting of the NCNR Advisory Council is held.

June 10, 1993 ­ P.L. 103-43, the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, becomes law. Among other provisions, it elevates the Center to an NIH Institute.

June 14, 1993 ­DHHS Secretary signs the Federal Register notice establishing the National Institute of Nursing Research.

View Milestones in NINR History

Directors of NINR

Name Beginning
Date in Office
Ending Date in Office
Dr. Shannon N. Zenk September 14, 2020 Present
Dr. Tara A. Schwetz (Acting) January 1, 2020 September 13, 2020

Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak (Acting)

October 1, 2019 December 31, 2019

Dr. Ann Cashion (Acting)

September 1, 2018

September 30, 2019

Dr. Patricia A. Grady

April 3, 1995

August 31, 2018

Dr. Suzanne S. Hurd (Acting)

July 1, 1994

April 2, 1995

Dr. Ada Sue Hinshaw

June 24, 1987

June 30, 1994

Dr. Doris H. Merritt (Acting)

Apr. 18, 1986

June 5, 1987

View Archived NINR Director's Messages


Federal involvement in nursing research can be traced back to 1946, with the establishment of the Division of Nursing within the Office of the Surgeon General, Public Health Service.

In 1955, the first extramural nursing research program was established in the Research Grants and Fellowship Branch of the Division of Nursing Resources, Bureau of Medical Services. At this same time, the National Institutes of Health established the Nursing Research Study Section within the Division of Research Grants to conduct scientific review of the growing volume of applications in this area.

In 1960, public health nursing services were consolidated to form a new Division of Nursing at what is now called the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) - the agency responsible for clinical training in the health care professions. The initial and continuing goal of federal support was to build a foundation for nursing research. During this time, many academic institutions established predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowship programs to train independent nurse investigators. Nursing research programs were also funded and research information was exchanged across the country.

The impetus for establishing the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) came from the findings of two Federal studies. A 1983 report by the Institute of Medicine recommended that nursing research be included in the mainstream of biomedical and behavioral science, and a 1984 NIH Task Force study found nursing research activities to be relevant to the NIH mission. These findings resulted in legislative action that established the National Center for Nursing Research (NCNR) at NIH in April 1986. The Center later became an NIH Institute with the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 and a Federal Register notice on June 14 of that year- both actions formally changing the NCNR to the NINR.