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Diseases

These are some of the diseases which the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Division of Biologics Standards (DBS) researched and the related biologics which they regulated. Biologics are used to prevent or treat a disease. They include vaccines, blood and blood products, allergenics, somatic cells, gene therapy, tissues, and recombinant therapeutic proteins.

  • An old monochromatic photo of rabbits being injected by a couple scientists

    Testing for endotoxins (a toxin released from a bacteria cell when the cell disintegrates) in injectable biologics was revolutionized in Building 29A. 

  • Image of a syringe for blood draws

    Regulating blood banks and blood products such as platelets was an important job at the Division of Biologics Standards (DBS).

  • screenshot of a video about cholera. The screen is green with beige text that says cholera can be conquered

    Cholera is a bacterial disease transmitted through contaminated water or food supplies. It was a stubborn problem, particularly in urban areas, and could be mild or fatal. 

  • Hepatitis B poster

    Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C are liver infections caused by three different viruses. They can be transmitted by blood products, sexual activity, and sharing needles.

  • An image of a group of people from the time, which appears to be the 1980s

    Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks the immune system and, if not treated, can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). 

  • A monochromatic image of a toddler covered in a rash due to a measles infection

    In the first half of the 20th century, before a vaccine was developed, nearly all children got measles, one of the most infectious viruses.

  • a poster that says whooping cough (pertussis) is back and has an image of a mother holding a baby with an explanation of symptoms and prevention

    Pertussis, or whooping cough, can cause serious symptoms and even death in infants. There is a vaccine available.

  • a sign on a masonry wall that says let's wipe out polio with the Salk vaccine

    Poliomyelitis (often just called polio) can cause paralysis and is best-known for the iron lungs used to keep children alive during the 1940s-1950s, before vaccines became available. 

  • a poster with an Art Deco style image of a mother and baby that advertises a rubella screening program for women

    From 1964–1965 there was a rubella epidemic in the United States which caused 11,000 stillbirths, miscarriages, and abortions, and at least 20,000 deformed babies, which spurred the development of a vaccine.



  • a black and white photo of a vial of tetanus antitoxin

    Tetanus is an often fatal disease caused by a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. Symptoms of tetanus include muscle stiffness in the jaw, hence its nickname "lockjaw."

  • a typhoid fever isolation sign from the early 20th century

    Typhoid fever spreads from person to person in contaminated food and water, and via the fecal-oral route. A gastrointestinal illness, it was a major cause of disease before the mid-20th century.   

  • Map depicting locations of Yellow Fever, Mainly in the southern hemisphere, concentrated in Africa and South America

    Yellow fever was known and feared, especially in port towns with the arrival of new ships. After the Spanish-American War, a Yellow Fever Commission was established in the United States to investigate.