OFFICE OF NIH HISTORY
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
The Office of NIH History at the National Institutes of Health exists to advance historical understanding of biomedical research within the NIH and the world. Through preserving records of significant NIH achievements, innovative exhibits, and educational programs, the Office of NIH History explores the past to enhance present understanding of the health sciences and the National Institutes of Health.
Victoria Harden, founding director of the Office of NIH Historh, delivered an insightful and compelling lecture at the 2015 annual meeting. If you missed it, Harden's lecture is now available online: http://shfg.org/shfg/events/trask-lecture/
Have You Seen Cajal Lately?
A bronze bas relief sculpture of Santiago Ramon y Cajal has been added to the exhibition of his original drawings in the Porter Neuroscience Research Center, Building 35 on the NIH Bethesda campus. Although Ramon y Cajal's original drawings will ultimately return to his home country of Spain, this sculpture will remain a permanent amenity of the Porter building.
This presence for Ramon y Cajal is most appropriate, as many of the researchers now working in this new multi-Institute neuroscience facility refer to his research as the very beginning of modern neuroscience. The plaque was sculpted, molded, and cast by the New Arts Foundry in Baltimore; its orange patina fits nicely near the Porter building's orange "sky box" conference room on the first floor.
Now, anyone wishing to run by the exhibition to take a selfie with the life-size sepia photo mural of Ramon y Cajal (in his lab/studio) can also take a photo with his dimensional likeness in bronze.
A New Exhibition Celebrates the Origins of Modern Neurobiology
The NIH honored Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the father of modern neuroscience, with an exhibit of scientist's original neural cell illustrations. The exhibit opened ,on November 6, 2014, in the new Porter Neuroscience Research Center, Building 35 on the NIH Bethesda campus.
The illustrations, from the turn of the 20th century, never have been exhibited in North America and will be on loan from Cajal Institute in Madrid, Spain.
Cajal was the first to describe the nervous system in exquisite detail. He found that the individual cells (later termed "neurons") typically comprise three distinct structures. He posited that these cells function as information processing units that employ electrical impulses to communicate within networks.
To reveal these cell structures in his tissue slides, Cajal employed a variety of staining techniques-including silver chromate-pioneered by Camillo Golgi, with whom he shared the 1906 Nobel Prize.
The Porter Center houses more than 800 scientists from 10 NIH institutes in laboratories literally without walls to enhance collaboration among the NIH's diverse community of neuroscientists. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the NIH Stetten Museum spearheaded the Cajal exhibit. There is great hope that the cross-pollination within the Porter facility will encourage shifts in understanding as radical as those introduced by Cajal.
In addition to Cajal's original drawings, floor tiles will reproduce tissue slides, as Cajal saw them through his microscope, and visitors will be greeted by an almost life-size photomural that captures Cajal as the artist-scientist in his studio laboratory.
The Santiago Ramón y Cajal exhibit is located in the Porter Neuroscience Research Center atrium
Oral histories are added on a regular basis.
Interview date: August 2004
Paul D. Parkman
Interview date: June 7, 2005
The Office of NIH History holds photograph collections cataloged and uncataloged. Many can be found in Search Our Collections. To request images for use in publications or presentations contact the Office of NIH History. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.
Recent publications by former fellows, based partly on their work as Stetten Fellows
David Cantor, Stress, Shock, and Adaptation in the Twentieth Century. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2014.
Johanna Crane, Scrambling for Africa: AIDS, Expertise, and the Rise of American Global Health Science. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013.
Eric Boyle, Quack Medicine: A History of Combating Health Fraud in Twentieth-Century America. Praeger, 2013. A former Stetten Fellow, his first book was awarded Best Print Publication from the Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences.
A ERNST LEITZ MICROSCOPE, ONE OF SEVERAL MICROSCOPES LOCATED IN THE STETTEN MUSEUM COLLECTION