NORD represents 1 in 10 Americans who have rare diseases with programs of advocacy, education, research and patients services. It serves as the voice of the rare disease community on important issues of public policy. It also provides information on rare diseases in understandable language for patients and their families, with referrals to support groups and other helpful resources. It encourages research on new diagnostics and treatments and administers patients assistance programs. NORD mentors rare disease support groups so that they can more effectively help their members. It serves as the point of connection between the patient community and key government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Nearly 150 patient organizations are members of NORD and look to NORD for guidance, mentoring and leadership.