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NIH 1999 Almanac/The Organization/NHLBI/      

National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute: Important Events in NHLBI History


June 16, 1948--President Harry S Truman signed the National Heart Act, creating and establishing the National Heart Institute in PHS and the National Advisory Heart Council.

July 7, 1948--The services of Dr. Paul Dudley White were secured under section 4b of the Heart Act "to be Executive Director of the National Advisory Heart Council and Chief Medical Advisor to the National Heart Institute."

August 1, 1948--Surgeon General Leonard A. Scheele, by General Circular No. 36, Organization Order No. 14, established NHI as one of the National Institutes of Health to administer functions of heart research, training, and administration set forth in the National Heart Act. Intramural research projects in cardiovascular diseases and gerontology conducted elsewhere in NIH were transferred to NHI. The director of NHI was designated as the focal point of leadership and coordination for the total heart program of PHS.

August 29, 1948--Surgeon General Scheele announced the names of the 16 members appointed to the first National Advisory Heart Council.

September 8, 1948--The first meeting of the National Advisory Heart Council was held.

January 1949--Cooperative research units were established at the University of California, University of Minnesota, Tulane University, and Massachusetts General Hospital, jointly financed by them and NIH, pending completion of NHI’s own research organization and availability of further research facilities.

July 1, 1949--A comprehensive plan for NHI’s intramural research program was instituted, organized on three general research levels, with three laboratory sections, five laboratory-clinical sections, and four clinical sections.

The Heart Disease Epidemiology Study at Framingham, Mass., was transferred from the Bureau of State Services, PHS, to NHI.

January 18-20, 1950--The first National Conference on Cardiovascular Diseases, sponsored by NHI and the American Heart Association, was held in Washington, D.C.

July 6, 1953--The first patient was admitted to the Clinical Center for heart disease research.

July 1, 1957--The first members of NHI’s Board of Scientific Counselors began their terms. It was established in 1956 "to provide advice on matters of general policy, particularly from a long-range viewpoint, as they relate to the intramural research program."

February 19, 1959--A report to the Nation was presented by the American Heart Association and NHI on "A Decade of Progress Against Cardiovascular Disease," at Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C.

April 21, 1961--The President’s Conference on Heart Disease and Cancer, whose participants on March 15 were requested by President John F. Kennedy to assist "in charting the Government’s further role in a National attack" on these diseases, convened at the White House and submitted its report.

November 22-24, 1964--The Second National Conference on Cardiovascular Diseases was held in Washington, D.C., under cosponsorship of the NHI, American Heart Association, and Heart Disease Control Program of PHS, to appraise developments since the first conference in 1950 and to determine needs and opportunities for continued and accelerated progress against heart and blood vessel diseases.

December 9, 1964--The President’s Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke, appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, March 7, 1964, to "recommend steps that can be taken to reduce the burden and incidence of these diseases," submitted its report.

October 16, 1968--A Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Dr. Marshall W. Nirenberg, chief of NHI’s Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics, for discovering the key to deciphering the genetic code. Dr. Nirenberg was the first NIH Nobel laureate and the first Federal employee to receive a Nobel Prize.

October 26, 1968--NHI received the National Hemophilia Foundation’s Research and Scientific Achievement Award for its "medical leadership ... tremendous stimulation and support of research activities directly related to the study and treatment of hemophilia."

November 14, 1968--The 20th anniversary of NHI was commemorated at the White House, with President Johnson and a notable array of prominent figures associated with NHI, past and present, participating.

August 12, 1969--Major provisions of NHI reorganization plan established five program branches in extramural programs (arteriosclerotic disease, cardiac disease, pulmonary disease, hypertension and kidney diseases, and thrombosis and hemorrhagic diseases); a Therapeutic Evaluations Branch and an Epidemiology Branch under the associate director for clinical applications; and three offices in the Office of the Director (heart information, program planning, and administrative management).

November 10, 1969--The NHI was renamed the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI), reflecting expansion of functions.

February 18, 1971--In his Health Message to the Congress, the President identified sickle cell anemia as a high-priority disease target and called for increased Federal expenditures. Subsequently, the DHEW assistant secretary for health and scientific affairs, assigned NIH and NHLI as the lead-agencies responsible for coordinating a National Sickle Cell Disease Program.

March 24, 1972--President Nixon named Dr. John S. Millis to head a panel "to determine why heart disease is so prevalent and so menacing and what can be done about it."

March 27-31, 1972--First meeting of U.S.-U.S.S.R. Joint Committee for Health Cooperation was held to develop and plan an approach to the health exchange program in several specific areas, including the cardiovascular field. The NHLI director is a member of the committee.

May 23, 1972--A 5-year agreement for a Cooperative Health Program was signed by W. P. Rogers, U.S. secretary of state, and B. V. Petrovsky, U.S.S.R. minister of health. The agreement calls for cooperative studies in pathogenesis of arteriosclerosis; management of ischemic heart disease; myocardial metabolism; congenital heart disease; sudden death; and blood transfusions, blood components, and prevention of hepatitis.

June 12, 1972--HEW Secretary Richardson approved a nationwide program of hypertension information and education. The secretary appointed the Hypertension Information and Education Advisory Committee, chaired by the director, NIH; and the Interagency Working Group, chaired by the director, NHLI, to implement the national effort. A High Blood Pressure Information Center was established within the NHLI Office of Information to collect and disseminate public and professional information about the disease.

July 1972--The NHLBI launched the National High Blood Pressure Education Program.

July 14, 1972--HEW Secretary Richardson approved a reorganization of NHLI, elevating the institute to bureau status within NIH, with seven division-level components: Office of Director, Division of Heart and Vascular Diseases, Division of Lung Diseases, Division of Blood Diseases and Resources, Division of Intramural Research, Division of Technological Applications, and Division of Extramural Affairs.

July 24, 1973--The 5-volume National Heart, Blood Vessel, Lung and Blood Program was transmitted to Congress. The comprehensive, 5-year plan of attack against heart, blood vessel, lung and blood diseases and research and management of blood resources was developed by the director, NHLI, with the advice of the National Heart and Lung Advisory Council, in accordance with the National Heart, Blood Vessel, Lung and Blood Act of 1972 (P.L. 92-423).

April 5, 1974--The HEW assistant secretary for health released the Report to the President by the President’s Advisory Panel on Heart Disease. It surveys the problem of heart and blood vessel disorders and recommends how illness and death from these disorders may be reduced.

August 2, 1974--Regulations were approved governing establishment, support, and operation of the National Research and Demonstration Centers for heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases.

July 1, 1976--The National High Blood Pressure Education Program released the first Joint National Committee Report on the Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure.

October 28, 1977--The U.S.-U.S.S.R. Cooperative Health Program was renewed for another 5 years with the signing of an agreement by Dr. Julius B. Richmond, HEW assistant secretary for health, and Dr. Dmitri D. Venedictov, U.S.S.R. deputy minister of health.

February 1978--The institute and American Heart Association jointly celebrated their 30th anniversary.

September 1979--The Task Force on Hypertension, established in September 1975 to assess the current state of hypertension research, completed its in-depth survey and recommendations for improved prevention, treatment, and control in 14 major areas. These recommendations are intended to guide the NHLBI in its future efforts.

November 1979--The results of the Hypertension Detection and Follow-up Program (HDFP), a clinical trial begun in 1971, provided evidence that tens of thousands of lives are being saved through treatment of mild hypertension and that perhaps thousands more could be saved annually if all people with mild hypertension were under treatment.

November 21, 1980--The Albert Lasker Special Public Health Award was presented to the institute for the HDFP, "which stands alone among clinical studies in its profound potential benefit to millions of people."

September 8, 1981--A Working Group on Arteriosclerosis, convened in 1978 to assess present understanding, to highlight unresolved problems, and to emphasize opportunities for future research in arteriosclerosis, completed its report in two volumes.

October 2, 1981--The Beta-Blocker Heart Attack Trial (BHAT) demonstrated benefits to those in the trial who received propranolol compared with the control group.

October 26, 1983--The Coronary Artery Surgery Study (CASS) results were released. They demonstrated that mildly symptomatic patients with coronary artery disease can safely defer coronary artery bypass surgery until symptoms worsen. Results of this clinical trial will help patients and their physicians decide whether and when bypass surgery should be undertaken. They can base their decisions on firmer scientific footing.

January 12, 1984--The Lipid Research Clinics Coronary Primary Prevention Trial established conclusively that reducing total blood cholesterol reduces the risk of coronary heart disease in men at increased risk because of raised cholesterol levels. Each 1 percent decrease in cholesterol can be expected to reduce heart attack risk by 2 percent.

April-September 1984--The Tenth Report of the Director, NHLBI, commemorated the 10th anniversary of the passage of the National Heart, Blood Vessel, Lung, and Blood Act. The publication reviews 10 years of research progress and presents a 5-year research plan for the national program.

April 1984--The Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications was created. The reorganization provides the institute with a focus on clinical trials; prevention, demonstration, and education programs; behavioral medicine; nutrition; epidemiology; and biometry. It also provides opportunities to examine the interrelationships of cardiovascular, respiratory, and blood diseases.

April 1985--Results of phase I of the thrombolysis in myocardial infarction (TIMI) trial comparing streptokinase (SK) with tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) were published. The new thrombolytic agent rt-PA is approximately twice as effective as SK in opening thrombosed coronary arteries.

October 1985--The NHLBI Smoking Education Program was initiated.

November 1985--The National Cholesterol Education Program was inaugurated.

June 1986--Results of the prophylactic penicillin trial were released. They demonstrate the efficacy of propylactic penicillin in reducing morbidity and mortality associated with pneumococcal infections in children with sickle cell disease.

October 1986-September 1987--The NHLBI celebrated its 40th anniversary and the NIH centennial with a year-long series of events. Activities included symposia and conferences, commemorative publications and exhibits, and a reunion of former NHLBI directors.

October 1987--The NHLBI established the National Blood Resource Education Program.

March 1989--The NHLBI initiated the National Asthma Education Program.

September 1990--NHLBI and NCI scientists began the first gene therapy trial in a human patient, a 4-year-old girl with an inherited immune dysfunction.

January 1991--The NHLBI Obesity Education Initiative began to educate the public and health professionals about obesity as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and its relationship to other risk factors such as high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.

February 1991--An expert panel of the National Asthma Education Program released Guidelines for Diagnosis and Management of Asthma to educate physicians and other health care providers in asthma management.

June 11, 1991--The National Heart Attack Alert Program was established.

July 1991--Results of the Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly Program were released. They demonstrate that low-dose pharmacologic therapy of isolated systolic hypertension in those over age 60 significantly reduces stroke and myocardial infarction.

August 1991--Results of the Studies of Left Ventricular Dysfunction were released, demonstrating that use of enalapril--an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor-- causes significant reduction in mortality and hospitalization for congestive heart failure in patients with symptomatic heart failure.

October 30, 1992--A celebration of the 20th anniversary of the National High Blood Pressure Education Program was held in conjunction with the NHBPEP coordinating committee meeting. The fifth Joint National Committee Report on the Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure and the first NHBPEP Working Group Report on the Primary Prevention of Hypertension were released.

June 15, 1993--The Second Report of the Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults was released.

January 30, 1995--Results of the Multicenter Study of Hydroxyurea were released through a clinical alert. They demonstrated that hydroxyurea reduced the number of painful episodes by 50 percent in severely affected adults with sickle cell disease. This is the first effective treatment for adult patients with the disorder.

September 21, 1995--Results of the Bypass Angioplasty Revascularization Investigation were released through a clinical alert. They demonstrated that patients on drug treatment for diabetes who had blockages in two or more coronary arteries and were treated with coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) had, at 5 years, a markedly lower death rate than similar patients treated with angioplasty. The clinical alert recommends CABG over standard angioplasty for patients on drug therapy for diabetes who have multiple coronary blockages and are first-time candidates for either procedure.

November 5-6, 1995-- The first Conference on Socioeconomic Status and Cardiovascular Health and Disease was held to determine future opportunities and needs for research.

December 4-5, 1995--A celebration of the 10th anniversary of the NCEP was held in conjunction with the NCEP coordinating committee meeting. Results of the 1995 cholesterol awareness surveys of physicians and the public were released.

May 21, 1996--The NHLBI announced results from the Framingham Heart Study that concluded earlier and more aggressive treatment of hypertension is vital to preventing congestive heart failure. Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, a healthy eating plan, and physical activity, are crucial for reducing blood lipids in those treated for stage I hypertension.

September 1996--Findings from the Asthma Clinical Research Network indicated that taking an inhaled beta-agonist at regularly scheduled times is safe for people with asthma but provides no greater benefit than taking the medication only when asthma symptoms occur. Recommendation to physicians who treat patients with mild asthma is to prescribe inhaled beta-agonists only on an as-needed basis.

November 13, 1996--The NHLBI released findings from two studies that show lifestyle changes, such as modifying one’s diet and losing weight, substantially reduce blood pressure in adults and can keep older patients off antihypertensive medication.

January 27 1997-- Results from the Pathobiological Determinants of Atherosclerosis in Youth program were published. They showed that atherosclerosis develops before age 20, that high density lipoprotein cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, and cigarette smoking affect progression of atherosclerosis equally in women and men regardless of race.

February 24, 1997-- The NAEPP released the Expert Panel Report 2, Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma to the public in conjunction with a meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology in San Francisco.

April 14, 1997-- The NHLBI stopped early an arrhythmia study comparing two treatment strategies, an implantable cardiac defibrillator versus antiarrhythmic drug treatment, for patients with life-threatening heart arrhythmias. Results demonstrated that implantable cardiac defibrillators are superior to drug therapy for improving overall survival.

September 18, 1997-- Results of the Stroke Prevention Trial in Sickle Cell Anemia (STOP) were released through a clinical alert. They showed that periodic red blood cell transfusions reduce by 90 percent the rate of stroke found in high risk children with sickle cell anemia

October 1997-September 1998-- The NHLBI celebrated 50 years with a year-long series of events. Activities included scientific symposia and conferences and commemorative publications and exhibits.

November 6, 1997-- The NHBPEP released The Sixth Report of Joint National Committee Report on the Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC-VI).

February 12, 1998-- The Task Force on Behavioral Research in Cardiovascular, Lung, and Blood Health and Disease, established in November 1995 to develop a comprehensive plan for NHLBI support of research on health and behavior in cardiovascular, lung, and blood diseases and sleep disorders, presented its recommendations.

June 17, 1998-- The NHLBI, in cooperation with NIDDK, released the Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Treatment, and Evaluation of Overweight and Obesity in Adults: Evidence Report.


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