Beacon of Hope: Years of Change and Renewal
 
A New Research Revolution: Molecular Medicine  
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Founding Years 1944-1953
Growth Years 1953-1969
Years of Change and Renewal
Footnotes
About the Author

Between 1983 and 1993, the development of recombinant DNA technologies has stimulated a new research revolution, and the Clinical Center continued to thrive. A growing stream of clinical research advances since 1989 has brought renewed distinction to its laboratories and added new mandates to its mission. In a series of four gene therapy protocols, begun in September 1990, NCI and NHLBI researchers demonstrated the cancer-killing potential of tumor-infiltrating leukocytes and through gene therapy restored the immune system in two young girls suffering from ADA deficiency, a rare genetic disease.125

Molecular medicine advances are now being reported in a widening circle of clinical fields. NHLBI researchers have used gene therapy techniques to transfer normal genes into airway cells of rats to correct the devastating symptoms of cystic fibrosis, and human trials are currently underway. The Clinical Center has also been a nationwide focus for AIDS research. NIAID and NCI researchers discovered zidovudine (AZT) and determined its efficacy for pediatric AIDS, and they have also played a leading role in establishing a national trials program. In fiscal year 1990, 22% of NIH intramural clinical trials funding was allocated to AIDS programs.126

In addition, the Nursing Department has opened day hospitals and conducts a growing array of clinical research projects in partnership with clinical services of the categorical institutes. Long-standing disparities in nursing salaries have been corrected, and a full staff complement is now a permanent feature of hospital operations.

The promise of prospective cures, which is endemic to this research, energizes scientists and clinicians today no less than in previous decades. The conquest of infectious disease announced by Surgeon General William H. Stewart in 1969 was premature, and the nation now faces a pandemic of HIV infection and the recurrence of old plagues, such as tuberculosis.127 But these challenges to scientific creativity are the surest signs that the Clinical Center will continue to renew itself and to widen the perimeters of human health.

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