Public Release: 

NIH History Day celebrates NIH; Features lecture and tours

NIH/National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will celebrate the first annual NIH History Day on Monday, September 22, 2003 on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Events will include tours of the Stetten Museum of Medical Research and a lecture by Professor Alan Kraut of American University. In addition, the Office of NIH History will be recording personal accounts from NIH staff and gathering historical papers and artifacts at several collection stations around the NIH campus.

"We want to make people aware of NIH history," says NIH Director, Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "NIH scientists and staff are making history every day through their research efforts and contributions to the public health."

"History is not just facts of events printed in a book," says historian Victoria Harden, Ph.D., the Director of the Office of NIH History and its Stetten Museum of Medical Research. "History is alive and all around us in the form of documents, tools, electronic records, and the personal experiences of the people who work at NIH."

The signature event of the day will be the NIH History Day lecture by Professor Alan Kraut of American University, with opening remarks by NIH Director, Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.

Professor Kraut will discuss his new book, Goldberger's War: The Life and Work of a Public Health Crusader. A noted infectious disease specialist during the early twentieth century, Dr. Joseph Goldberger dedicated his career to the investigation of the causes and spread of many diseases, including typhoid, yellow fever, and diphtheria. He is best known for his work on the disease pellagra, the "scourge of the south," in which he discovered that the cause of pellagra was a dietary insufficiency, later identified as vitamin B niacin.

Dr. Kraut will tell the story of the years of experiments leading to the pellagra discovery, interweaving public health history with the absorbing personal tale of a doctor who went to extraordinary lengths to demonstrate his ideas. The lecture will take place at 3:00 p.m. at Lipsett Auditorium in the Clinical Center (Building 10) on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The lecture will be immediately followed by a book signing and reception outside of Lipsett Auditorium.

In addition to the lecture, NIH History Day will feature tours of the Stetten Museum's storage facility in Building 13 on the NIH campus. Curator Michele Lyons will take small groups through museum storage for a "behind the scenes" look at historical medical research equipment, instruments, commemorative items, and other materials.

The Historical Research Unit of the Office of NIH History collects a variety of materials reflecting the rich history of intramural programs at NIH, including photographs, documents, personal papers, videos, audiotapes, news clippings, and books from NIH scientists and staff. From 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm on NIH History Day, volunteers will be staffing tables at several collection stations positioned around the NIH campus, including stations on the main floor of Building 10 (the Clinical Center), outside the cafeteria of Building 31, and in the main lobby of Building 45.


The Office of NIH History and the Stetten Museum are components of the Office of Communications and Public Liaison in the NIH Office of the Director. The National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, conducts and funds biological and medical research in hopes of improving the public health for the nation.

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