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The Museum uses a variety of methods such as virtual and physical exhibits, social media, and publications to make this history available to the public and to historical researchers. 

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Michael Potter Exhibit

“In the 1950s, a ferment of new theoretical ideas on the cellular and genetic basis of antibody formation electrified the field of immunology and began a new age in experimentation.  Two problems dominated the thoughts of scientists during most of this decade—the cellular basis of antibody formation (how did it work?) and the genetic basis of antibody diversity (how could the genes in one individual generate antibodies for the thousands and thousands of antigens?).  …The pace of research was remarkable. One bridge between fields such as immunology, cancer research, protein chemistry, and molecular biology was the plasma cell.”
  —Michael Potter “The Early History of Plasma Cell Tumors in Mice, 1954-1976.” The Work of Michael Potter (1924-2013)




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Christian Boehmer Anfinsen

n the spring of 1959, a little-known biochemist at the National Heart Institute of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, named Christian Anfinsen, sent an ambitious manuscript to the respected academic publisher John Wiley & Sons. They were clearly impressed. The resulting book published just a few months later, titled The Molecular Basis of Evolution, was the first rigorous attempt to integrate the newly developing field of protein chemistry with the classical concepts of genetics. Anfinsen stated in his preface, that “Everyone in science must be interested in the evolutionary process as the central theme of biology.” Christian Boehmer Anfinsen Exhibit



potter icon

Michael Potter Exhibit

“In the 1950s, a ferment of new theoretical ideas on the cellular and genetic basis of antibody formation electrified the field of immunology and began a new age in experimentation.  Two problems dominated the thoughts of scientists during most of this decade—the cellular basis of antibody formation (how did it work?) and the genetic basis of antibody diversity (how could the genes in one individual generate antibodies for the thousands and thousands of antigens?).  …The pace of research was remarkable. One bridge between fields such as immunology, cancer research, protein chemistry, and molecular biology was the plasma cell.”
  —Michael Potter “The Early History of Plasma Cell Tumors in Mice, 1954-1976.” The Work of Michael Potter (1924-2013)

anfinsen icon

Christian Boehmer Anfinsen

n the spring of 1959, a little-known biochemist at the National Heart Institute of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, named Christian Anfinsen, sent an ambitious manuscript to the respected academic publisher John Wiley & Sons. They were clearly impressed. The resulting book published just a few months later, titled The Molecular Basis of Evolution, was the first rigorous attempt to integrate the newly developing field of protein chemistry with the classical concepts of genetics. Anfinsen stated in his preface, that “Everyone in science must be interested in the evolutionary process as the central theme of biology.” Christian Boehmer Anfinsen Exhibit

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Oral Histories

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The DeWitt Stetten, Jr., Museum of Medical Research

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70 Acres of Science

The National Institute of Health Moves to Bethesda 

Michele Lyons - Curator, National Institutes of Health DeWitt Stetten Jr., Museum of Medical Research 

The NIH is the biomedical research organization of the federal government. Why is a government agency located in Bethesda, apparently masquerading as a university? The simple answer is that in the late 1930s, the NIH needed more room and a wealthy couple donated some of their land. The more complex answer involves domestic politics, social reform, international relations, economic depression, scientific advances, and personal ambitions. 

Download: 70acresofscience.pdf (12.3 MB)

A journey into NIH's past…and present

photo of display case containing coloring books from the Clinical Center by its 2nd floor cafeteria

New display cases have been installed around campus. Read a comic book about Joseph Goldberger’s work in pellagra in the early 20th century at the Building 1, 3rd floor case. Be amazed at the variety of Clinical Center patches near the Hospitality Desk on the 1st floor of the Clinical Center.  Think about the social context of coloring books from the Clinical Center by its 2nd floor cafeteria.  And salute a leading woman investigator, Dr. Margaret Pittman, in the Building 60 lobby.  Two cases are coming to the Vaccine Research Center, and one to Building 6.

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Photo of the Cajal Exhibit, showing large image of Cajal and original illustrations on display along with 3d Printed tiles underneath

Current set of seven neuroanatomy drawings by Santiago Ramón y Cajal will remain on rotation in Building 35. 

Santiago Ramón y Cajal Exhibit

Photo of the Cajal Exhibit, showing large image of Cajal and original illustrations on display along with 3d Printed tiles underneath

Current set of seven neuroanatomy drawings by Santiago Ramón y Cajal will remain on rotation in Building 35. 

U.S. National Library of Medicine Photograph by Ernie Branson

Social Media

Tweets by historyatnih

Oral histories are added on a regular basis.

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