Oral Histories Organized by Institute or Center

See also: Oral Histories Alphabetical Listing

NIH Offices

Please note that in some cases, institute names have changed over the years as institutes were created or split.  The abbreviation of the current name is the one used in tags — so please use the current abbreviation to search.  Former names are given under the current institute on this page.  Please visit our timeline of NIH institutes and centers for more information.

NIH Office of the Director (OD)

The Office of the Director is the central office at NIH for its 27 Institutes and Centers. The OD is responsible for setting policy for NIH and for planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all the NIH components. OD program offices include the Office of AIDS Research and the Office of Research on Women’s Health, among others.

NIH Institutes


National Cancer Institute (NCI) — 1937

NCI leads a national effort to eliminate the suffering and death due to cancer. Through basic and clinical biomedical research and training, NCI conducts and supports research that will lead to a future in which we can prevent cancer before it starts, identify cancers that do develop at the earliest stage, eliminate cancers through innovative treatment interventions, and biologically control those cancers that we cannot eliminate so they become manageable, chronic diseases.


National Eye Institute — 1968

The National Eye Institute’s mission is to conduct and support research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to blinding eye diseases, visual disorders, mechanisms of visual function, preservation of sight, and the special health problems and requirements of the blind.


National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute — 1976
National Heart and Lung Institute — 1969
National Heart Institute — 1948                                                                                  

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) provides global leadership for a research, training, and education program to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, and blood diseases and enhance the health of all individuals so that they can live longer and more fulfilling lives. The NHLBI stimulates basic discoveries about the causes of disease, enables the translation of basic discoveries into clinical practice, fosters training and mentoring of emerging scientists and physicians, and communicates research advances to the public.


National Human Genome Research Institute — 1997
National Center for Human Genome Research — 1989

NHGRI is devoted to advancing health through genome research. The Institute led NIH’s contribution to the Human Genome Project, which was successfully completed in 2003 ahead of schedule and under budget. Building on the foundation laid by the sequencing of the human genome, NHGRI’s work now encompasses a broad range of research aimed at expanding understanding of human biology and improving human health. In addition, a critical part of NHGRI’s mission continues to be the study of the ethical, legal and social implications of genome research.

For NHGRI's oral history collection featuring discussions with influential figures in the field of genomics and the history of the institute, click here.


National Institute on Aging — 1974

NIA leads a national program of research on the biomedical, social, and behavioral aspects of the aging process; the prevention of age-related diseases and disabilities; and the promotion of a better quality of life for all older Americans.


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — 1970

NIAAA conducts research focused on improving the treatment and prevention of alcoholism and alcohol-related problems to reduce the enormous health, social, and economic consequences of this disease.


National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — 1955
National Microbiological Institute — 1948

NIAID research strives to understand, treat, and ultimately prevent the myriad infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases that threaten millions of human lives.


National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases — 1986
National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney Diseases — 1981
National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism, and Digestive Diseases — 1972
National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases — 1950
Experimental Biology and Medicine Institute — 1948

NIAMS supports research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases, the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research, and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases.


National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering — 2000

The mission of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) is to improve health by leading the development and accelerating the application of biomedical technologies. The Institute is committed to integrating the physical and engineering sciences with the life sciences to advance basic research and medical care.


Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development — 1962

NICHD research on fertility, pregnancy, growth, development, and medical rehabilitation strives to ensure that every child is born healthy and wanted and grows up free from disease and disability.


National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders — 1988

NIDCD conducts and supports biomedical research and research training on normal mechanisms as well as diseases and disorders of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language that affect 46 million Americans.


National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research — 1998
National Institute of Dental Research — 1948

NIDCR provides leadership for a national research program designed to understand, treat, and ultimately prevent the infectious and inherited craniofacial-oral-dental diseases and disorders that compromise millions of human lives.


National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases — 1988
National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney Diseases — 1981
National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism, and Digestive Diseases — 1972
National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases — 1950
Experimental Biology and Medicine Institute — 1948 

The mission of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is to conduct and support medical research and research training and to disseminate science-based information on diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutritional disorders, and obesity; and kidney, urologic, and hematologic diseases, to improve people’s health and quality of life.


National Institute on Drug Abuse — 1974

The mission of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is to advance science on the causes and consequences of drug use and addiction and to apply that knowledge to improve individual and public health.


National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences — 1969

The mission of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is to discover how the environment affects people in order to promote healthier lives.


National Institute of General Medical Sciences — 1962

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) supports basic research that increases understanding of biological processes and lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention. NIGMS-funded scientists investigate how living systems work at a range of levels, from molecules and cells to tissues, whole organisms and populations. The Institute also supports research in certain clinical areas, primarily those that affect multiple organ systems. To assure the vitality and continued productivity of the research enterprise, NIGMS provides leadership in training the next generation of scientists, in enhancing the diversity of the scientific workforce, and in developing research capacities throughout the country.


National Institute of Mental Health — 1949

NIMH provides national leadership dedicated to understanding, treating, and preventing mental illnesses through basic research on the brain and behavior, and through clinical, epidemiological, and services research.


National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities — 2010
National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities — 2000
Office of Research on Minority Health — 1993 

The mission of NIMHD is to lead scientific research to improve minority health and eliminate health disparities. To accomplish its mission, NIMHD plans, reviews, coordinates, and evaluates all minority health and health disparities research and activities of the National Institutes of Health; conducts and supports research in minority health and health disparities; promotes and supports the training of a diverse research workforce; translates and disseminates research information; and fosters innovative collaborations and partnerships.


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke — 1988
National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke — 1975
National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke — 1968
National Institute of Neurological Diseases — 1968
National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness — 1950 

The mission of NINDS is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. To accomplish this goal the NINDS supports and conducts basic, translational, and clinical research on the normal and diseased nervous system. The Institute also fosters the training of investigators in the basic and clinical neurosciences, and seeks better understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of neurological disorders.


National Institute of Nursing Research — 1986
National Center for Nursing Research — 1986 

The mission of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) is to promote and improve the health of individuals, families, communities, and populations. NINR supports and conducts clinical and basic research and research training on health and illness across the lifespan to build the scientific foundation for clinical practice, prevent disease and disability, manage and eliminate symptoms caused by illness, and improve palliative and end-of-life care.


National Library of Medicine — 1956
Armed Forces Medical Library — 1836

NLM collects, organizes, and makes available biomedical science information to scientists, health professionals, and the public. The Library’s Web-based databases, including PubMed/Medline and MedlinePlus, are used extensively around the world. NLM conducts and supports research in biomedical communications; creates information resources for molecular biology, biotechnology, toxicology, and environmental health; and provides grant and contract support for training, medical library resources, and biomedical informatics and communications research.

The Archives and Modern Manuscript Program's (AMMP) Oral History Collections cover a broad range of topics, people and institutions from throughout the medical and health sciences: National Library of Medicine

NIH Centers


NIH Clinical Center — 1953

The NIH Clinical Center, America’s research hospital, provides a versatile clinical research environment enabling the NIH mission to improve human health by investigating the pathogenesis of disease; conducting first-in-human clinical trials with an emphasis on rare diseases and diseases of high public health impact; developing state-of-the-art diagnostic, preventive, and therapeutic interventions; training the current and next generations of clinical researchers; and, ensuring that clinical research is ethical, efficient, and of high scientific quality.


Center for Information Technology — 1998
Division of Computer Research and Technology — 1964  

CIT incorporates the power of modern computers into the biomedical programs and administrative procedures of the NIH by focusing on three primary activities: conducting computational bioscience research, developing computer systems, and providing computer facilities.

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Center for Scientific Review — 1997
Division of Research Grants — 1946 

The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) is the portal for NIH grant applications and their review for scientific merit. CSR organizes the peer review groups or study sections that evaluate the majority (70%) of the research grant applications sent to NIH. CSR also receives all grant applications for NIH, as well as for some other components of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Since 1946, the CSR mission has remained clear and timely: to see that NIH grant applications receive fair, independent, expert, and timely reviews — free from inappropriate influences — so NIH can fund the most promising research.


Fogarty International Center — 1968

FIC promotes and supports scientific research and training internationally to reduce disparities in global health.


National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences — 2011

The mission of NCATS is to catalyze the generation of innovative methods and technologies that will enhance the development, testing, and implementation of diagnostics and therapeutics across a wide range of human diseases and conditions.


National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health — 2014
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine — 1998
Office of Alternative Medicine — 1992 

The mission of NCCIH is to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative health interventions and their roles in improving health and health care.

COVID-19 Interviews

These interviews were conducted by the Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the initiative called "Behind the Mask." These interviews capture the professional and personal experiences of NIH staff, contractors, and volunteers during this time. They are not meant to be full oral histories.

Hygienic Laboratory — 1887

The Hygienic Laboratory of the Marine Hospital Service was the precursor agency to the NIH.  In 1930, the name of the Hygienic Laboratory was changed to the National Institute of Health (then singular) by the Ransdell Act.


In 1965-1966, the Public Health Service requested volunteers from the Commissioned Corps to inspect hospitals in the American South for compliance to integration standards before the Medicare Act went into effect. These are some of the stories from those officers at NIH.


Sometimes in the search for historical resources, we interview people not at the NIH, but whose work intersected with that of NIH staff.  These institutions include the Food and Drug Administration and other government and private organizations.


Audio Files.