There are many ways to categorize the research performed at the NIH Intramural Research Program: biomedical or behavioral; computational, basic, translational, or clinical; excellent or outstanding; wow or double-wow; and so on. When we launched the irp.nih.gov website, we utilized the concept of scientific focus areas, or SFAs, and identified 21 such SFAs at the IRP, from biomedical engineering & biophysics to virology.
We thought the 21 SFAs did a rather nice job of summing up all the diverse science in the IRP. Then along comes RNA biology. It's not as if the field is new; some 30 Nobel Prizes have been won involving RNA over the decades. But the field has had a renaissance in recent years with discoveries such as that of noncoding RNA (ncRNA) functioning in genome defense and chromosome inactivation. Newly revealed classes of RNAs and their remarkable functions are poised to revolutionize molecular biology, with profound implications for clinical sciences.