NIH Clinical Center

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National Institutes of Health Clinical CenterProfile

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Message from the Director

Important Events in Clinical Center History

Governance and Accreditation

Organization Structure and Programs

Heralding Fifty Years of Clinical Caring and Clinical Research

The Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center

Activation Planning for the Clinical Research Center

The Edmond J. Safra Family Lodge

Clinical Research

Clinician Highlight

Clinical Research Training

Organizational Effectiveness and Efficiency

Public Outreach  End of left navigation list link group.

Heralding Fifty Years of Clinical Caring and Clinical Research

Clinical Center Director Dr. John Gallin and NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni during a break in the anniversary program.

The first patient admission to the Clinical Center in July 1953 heralded the start of NIH intramural clinical research, a program that balances basic and clinical research. Since that first patient admission, NIH investigators have seen more than a quarter million patients. Today, patients continue to come to NIH from every corner of the Nation and world seeking answers to their scientific and medical questions. The NIH Clinical Center is the largest hospital in the world totally dedicated to clinical research. Seventeen of the NIH’s research institutes and centers see patients at the Clinical Center.

The NIH Clinical Center continues to set the stage for the synthesis of medical knowledge—knowledge that has radically improved the prospects of human health. Many past milestones and the promises for an exciting future were recognized as the Clinic Center marked its fiftieth anniversary in 2003.

Clinical Center 50th Anniversary Logo

Commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary was observed in style, first with a special celebration in early July for past and present staff, patients and friends of the Clinical Center. Then three months later, the focus turned to scientific achievements, as luminaries of the Clinical Center past and present attended a special scientific symposium on October 14, 2003, held in tandem with the annual NIH Research Festival. Daring careers were remembered by more than a dozen of NIH’s most revered clinical investigators who shared their stories of the role the NIH Clinical Center played in their research triumphs. The annual Medicine for the Public lectures emphasized current research in the context of previous scientific advances and a special year-long Grand Rounds series focused on the many path-breaking discoveries over the past fifty years.

Special Web Site

Clincial Center 50th Anniversary Web Site page

A special website highlighting the fiftieth anniversary activities at includes a commemorative video narrated by Cokie Roberts, ABC commentator and a patient at the Clinical Center.

“The remarkable thing at NIH, from a patient’s perspective, is that you not only have the best and the brightest and the best possible medicine that you can have but you have the best care that you can have, and that is largely the responsibility of the nurses. The nurses are incredibly intelligent and responsible and happy to be there.

“What a wonderful institution for the people who are taken care of there, for the families of the people who are taken care of there, and for the patients themselves. But also what a wonderful institution for the people who work there. It is a place that trains and respects and listens to the people who are in there every day trying to literally save the world.”

—Cokie Roberts

Book cover: Building Ten at Fifty

Building Ten at Fifty: 50 Years of Clinical Research at the NIH Clinical Center was produced as part of the Clinical Center’s fiftieth anniversary celebration and unveiled at the fiftieth anniversary scientific symposium. The text, a year in the making, was based on scores of interviews with current and past NIH and Clinical Center employees and patients as well as historic documents and articles.

Photo: US DHHS Deputy Secretary Claude A. Allen

Addressing attendees, U.S. Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Claude A. Allen lauded the Clinical Center as a hospital that cares.

With the opening of the Clinical Center in 1953 biomedical science came out of the laboratory and a new era of clinical research began. Conducting research on human patients was far from universally accepted but the idea that a scientist could work in a clinic setting and a laboratory was compelling enough to attract the best and brightest physician scientists to the Clinical Center. The program was lauded for being a training ground for the nation’s leaders in academic medical science and for its long list of scientific achievements.

Here, in part, are research advances from the Clinical Center’s rich reservoir of scientific discovery.

  • First cure of a solid tumor with chemotherapy
  • First chemotherapy for childhood leukemia and Hodgkin’s disease
  • First use of immunotherapy to treat cancer
  • Evidence of a genetic component in schizophrenia
  • First successful replacement of a mitral valve
  • Use of nitroglycerin for acute myocardial infarction
  • First controlled trials of lithium’s effect on depression
  • Analysis of the disorders of lipid metabolism and the pathogenesis of arteriosclerosis
  • Immunosuppressive therapy of nonmalignant diseases (lupus, Wegener’s granulomatosis, midline granuloma)
  • Enzyme replacement to treat Gaucher’s disease
  • Use of hydroxyurea to treat sickle cell anemia
  • First computerized hospital information system designed to facilitate clinical research
  • Use of AZT as the first treatment for AIDS
  • Description of the pathogenesis of AIDS
  • Blood tests for AIDs, hepatitis
  • Reduction of transfusion-transmitted hepatitis from 30 percent to near zero
  • First gene therapy (for adenosine deaminase deficiency)
  • Use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to rapidly diagnose coronary artery disease in emergency room settings
  • Immunosuppressive therapy for aplastic anemia
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