James A. Shannon buildingOFFICE OF NIH HISTORY

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.



Our focus this month is on surgical objects created and used at the National Institutes of Health. The image below was used at the NIH during brain surgeries, the stereotactic frame allowed surgeons to more easily locate regions of interest not visible on the surface of the brain. Stereotactic location was first attempted in 1873; many improvements have been made in the last 140 years--most notably, the advent of computerized scanning technology. Follow us on Facebook and Tumblr hlighting these fascinating tools used to further medical advancements in healthcare.

Head holder

Head Holder for Brain Surgery, Radionics, Inc.


Oral histories are added on a regular basis.

Emmett Barkley
Interview date: October 5, 2000

Arthur C. Upton
Interview date: June 4, 1997

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 History.


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 recently awarded Best Print Publication from the Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences. Read about it at The National Museum of Health and Medicine news and events page.



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Office of History and Stetten Museum | Bldg 60 | Suite 230 | National Institutes of Health | Bethesda, MD 20814-1460
Phone: 301.496.6610 | Email: history@nih.gov

Last updated: 05 September 2014
First published: 2 February 2005
Permanence level:
Permanent: Dynamic Content