Happy 132nd Birthday, NIH!

We keep wishing ourselves happy birthday because as an agency with a long history, we've had a few name changes. But the true beginning of the NIH was in August 1887, when Dr. Joseph Kinyoun became the first and only employee of the new Laboratory of Hygiene of the U.S. Public Health Service (then the Marine Hospital Service). His laboratory was in the Marine Hospital on Staten Island, New York.  Kinyoun helped to bring the new science of bacteriology to the service of protecting the public's health in the United States.



Senator Joseph Ransdell seated at his desk looking directly into camera.

One of the most important events in NIH history happened on May 26, 1930:  the Ransdell Act was signed, creating the National Institute of Health.  #NIH was singular then, springing out of the Hygienic Laboratory of the Public Health Service.  Louisiana Senator Joseph E. Ransdell, pictured here, worked tirelessly to get the bill passed.  This legislation marked a change in the attitude of the U.S. scientific community toward public funding of medical research. 

You can become an expert on Ransdell by reading “Inventing the NIH” by Dr. Victoria Harden https://archive.org/details/inventingnihfede00hard/page/n5 

Women's History Month 2019

Anita B. Roberts sitting at a laboratory bench.

Anita B. Roberts

For Women’s History month, we’re introducing you to Dr. Anita B. Roberts (1942 – 2006), who was both a stellar scientist — she was among the top 50 most-cited researchers for 20 years — and a beloved mentor to dozens of young scientists. 

Her pioneering work focused on the protein TGF-β, which is critical in healing wounds and bone fractures and can either block or stimulate cancer development.  Roberts joined #NCI in 1976, becoming the chief of the Laboratory of Cell Regulation and Carcinogenesis in 1995. 

The Anita B. Roberts Lecture Series is organized by the #NIH Women Scientist Advisors Committee to highlight outstanding research achievements by female scientists @IRPatNIH.  The series is supported by the Office of Research on Women’s Health.  Learn more about Roberts and the lecture series https://bit.ly/2tqabmx  #WomensHistoryMonth



Loan of Original Cajal Drawings on Exhibition in NIH’s Porter Neuroscience Center Extended

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. 

The drawings date back to the turn of the last century when Santiago Ramón y Cajal shared the Nobel Prize (1906) with Camillo Golgi for their work on the structure of the nervous system.  We thank our partners at the Cajal Institute in Madrid, Spain for making this exhibit possible.  You can see the original drawings, or touch 3-D prints of enlarged drawing details, until September.


Santiago Ramón y Cajal Exhibit  

Michael Potter Exhibit Launched

U.S. National Library of Medicine Photograph by Ernie Branson The Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum opened twin historical exhibits in the Clinical Center in May honoring two NIH greats: Dr. Christian Anfinsen, who shared the 1972 Nobel Prize in chemistry; and Dr. Michael Potter, winner of a 1984 Lasker Award. Anfinsen and Potter began their careers at NIH in the 1950s, when molecular biology and genetics were new fields. They expanded both fields by asking questions that led to deeper understanding of basic biological functions. Their commitment to science influenced their personal lives as well. 

History in the NIH

The 4th Annual Stetten Symposium

Program Cover

Conference program (PDF – 300KB)

Date/Time: 6 June 2012 / 12:30 - 5:00 p.m. 
Venue: Wilson Hall, Building 1, National Institutes of Health

This Symposium is a ‘progress report’ by the four current fellows in the Office of History.  Their presentations explore biostatistics and biometry at the NIH, the problem of Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, Joseph Kinyoun (the founder of the forerunner of NIH/NIAID), and the origins of NIAAA and NIDA in the 1970s.

Stetten Symposium 2011

Download: Conference program (PDF - 464KB)

Date/Time: 14 June 2011 / 8:30 - 5:00 p.m. 
Venue: Wilson Hall, Building 1, National Institutes of Health

This Symposium is a 'progress report' by the eight Stetten fellows in the Office of History. Their presentations explore Federal responses to obesity; the NIH and the problems of homelessness; the problem of anticipation in hereditary disease; nanotechnology and cancer; complementary and alternative medicine at the NIH; the history of biological conceptions of mental illness; and the role of the NIH in promoting AIDS research in Africa. 

For further details please download the conference program (above).

Graduate and Post-Doctoral Student Symposium

Conference Brochure Cover

Download: Conference program (PDF - 252KB)
Date: 10 June 2011
Venue: Lister Hill Visitor’s Center (Building 38A), National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
Free to Registrants 

This Symposium – cosponsored by the Office of History, the National Library of Medicine, the Society for the Social History of Medicine and the Chemical Heritage Foundation – aims to provide a forum for graduate and post-doctoral students in the history of medicine and the biomedical sciences in the Mid-Atlantic region to discuss issues of common interest. 

For further details and registration please download the conference program.

Stress, Trauma, and Adaptation in the 20th Century

Stress, Trauma, and Adaptation in the 20th Century

Conference program (PDF - 0.50 MB)

Date: 9-10 November 2010
Venue: Conference Room D, Building 45 (Natcher)
National Institutes of Health

This workshop brings together leading historians from the United States, Canada, Israel, the United Kingdom and Japan to explore changing ideas about stress in the twentieth century.  The meeting is co-sponsored by the Office of History, the National Library of Medicine, and the Centre for Medical History at Exeter University.    

For further details please download the conference program.

History at the NIH

Program Cover

Conference program (PDF - 2.35 MB)

Date/Time: 15 June 2010 / 8:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Venue: Conference Room D, Building 45 (Natcher)
National Institutes of Health

This Symposium is a 'progress report' by the seven Stetten fellows in the Office of History. Their presentations explore the NCI’s cancer virus program in the 1970s, public responses to Leptin and obesity, nanotechnology and cancer, the NIH consensus development program, complementary and alternative medicine at the NIH, the history of psychosurgery, and the role of the NIH in the development of research ethics. 

For further details please download the conference program. For a PDF of the conference poster click here.

Graduate and Post-Doctoral Student Symposium

Conference Program Cover

Conference program (PDF - 252KB) 

Date: 4  June 2010
Venue: Lister Hill Visitor’s Center (Building 38A), National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
Free to Registrants

This Symposium – cosponsored by the Office of History, the National Library of Medicine, and the Washington Society for the History of Medicine – aims to provide a forum for graduate and post-doctoral students in the history of medicine and the biomedical sciences in the Washington DC area to discuss issues of common interest.

For further details and registration please download the conference program.

Finished Proofs? A Symposium to Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Publication of On the Origin of Species (1859)

Program Cover

Conference program (PDF - 2.2MB)

Date/Time: 1 October 2009 / 9:00 - 6:15 p.m.
Venue: Lister Hill Auditorium, National Library of Medicine (NIH), 8600 Rockville Pike, Bldg. 38A, Bethesda, MD

This symposium (co-organized by the Office of History and the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine) brings together leading historians, philosophers, and scientists to explore changing understandings of Darwinian theory in the last 150 years.

For further details please download the conference program.

History in the NIH

Program Cover

Conference program (PDF - 192KB)

Date/Time: 16 June 2009 / 12:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Venue: Conference Room D, Building 45 (Natcher),
National Institutes of Health

This Symposium is a 'progress report' by the four Stetten fellows in the Office of History. Their presentations explore NCI's cancer virus program in the 1970s; NIH research on cholesterol; complementary and alternative medicine at the NIH; and the role of the NIH in the development of research ethics.

For further details please download the conference program.

Graduate and Post-Doctoral Student Symposium

Program Cover

Conference program (PDF - 252KB)

Date: 8 May 2009
Venue: Lister Hill Visitor’s Center (Building 38A), National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
Free to Registrants

This Symposium – cosponsored by the Office of History, the National Library of Medicine, and the Washington Society for the History of Medicine – aims to provide a forum for graduate and Post-Doctoral students in the history of medicine and the biomedical sciences in the Washington DC area to discuss issues of common interest.

For further details and registration please download the conference program.

The Role of the Research Physician: From Golden Past to Threatened Future?

Program Cover

Conference program (PDF - 112KB)

Date: 26-27 March 2009
Venue: The Cloisters (Building 60), National Institutes of Health
Free to Registrants

This conference brings together, for the first time, leading physician researchers, organizational leaders, historians, and social scientists for a multi-disciplinary exploration of the physician-scientist research tradition, its changing contours, and the challenges and opportunities it faces going forward.

For further details and registration please download the conference program.

Graduate Student Symposium

Program Cover

Conference program (PDF - 208KB)

Date: 2 May 2008
Venue: Lister Hill Visitor’s Center (Building 38A), National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
Free to Registrants

This Symposium – cosponsored by the Office of History, the National Library of Medicine, and the Washington Society for the History of Medicine – aims to provide a forum for graduate students in the history of medicine and the biomedical sciences in the Washington DC area to discuss issues of common interest.

For further details and registration please download the conference program.