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NIH conducts and sponsors biomedical research through its institutes and centers (IC), each of which is charged with a specific mission. ICs' missions generally focus on a given disease; a particular organ; or a stage in development, such as childhood or old age. ICs accomplish their missions chiefly through intramural and extramural research. Intramural research entails government scientists working in the ICs' own laboratories and clinics, whereas extramural research is conducted at outside research institutions, primarily universities, by scientists who have been awarded extramural research grants from an IC through NIH's competitive process.