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NIH Almanac - Organization

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CC logo   NIH Clinical Center
Mission | Important Events | Legislative Chronology | Director | Programs


The NIH Clinical Center (CC) is the clinical research hospital for the National Institutes of Health. Through clinical research, physician-investigators translate laboratory discoveries into better treatments, therapies and interventions to improve the nation's health.

Clinical and laboratory research is conducted shoulder-to-shoulder at the CC and this tandem approach drives all aspects of its operations. The first patients were admitted in 1953. More than one-quarter million patients from across the nation have gone on to participate in clinical research studies here. In 2001 their care accounted for about 7,000 inpatient admissions and nearly 73,000 outpatient visits at the 13-story, 267-bed hospital.

Late in 1997, Vice President Al Gore and Senator Mark O. Hatfield broke ground for the new Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center. The center, expected to be complete in 2004, will house new inpatient hospital units, outpatient clinics, day hospitals, and research labs. Together, the Magnuson and Hatfield centers will provide the environment today's researchers need to spark medical discovery into the next century.

Important Events in CC History

November 1948 - Construction of the Clinical Center was started.

June 22, 1951 - The cornerstone ceremony was officiated by Oscar R. Ewing, Federal security administrator. President Harry S. Truman was the honored guest.

July 2, 1953 - The CC was dedicated by DHEW Secretary Oveta Culp Hobby.

July 6, 1953 - The first patient was admitted to the Clinical Center.

1954 - The Clinical Center's diagnostic x-ray department acquires the only Schnonander angiocardiographic unit in the U.S. It takes films in two planes at the rate of six films per second, permitting a graphic demonstration of contrast substances as they pass through the heart, making diagnosis faster and more accurate.

1957 - The Clinical Pathology Department starts an approved residency training program, admitting its first two residents. Develops the first automated machine for counting red and white blood cells (until then counted manually), from which later comes the Coulter counter.

1957 - The Blood Bank publishes its first research paper, delineating the post-transfusion hepatitis problem, firing the first salvo in a long but largely successful campaign.

1959 - A new, circular surgical wing (10A) begins construction, adding 45,000 square feet.

September 5, 1963 - A new surgical wing for cardiac and neurosurgery was dedicated by Dr. Luther L. Terry, Surgeon General. The two cardiac operating rooms are unique in being dedicated to cardiac surgery, with special systems for monitoring, lighting, communications, and storage and retrieval of large amounts of research data. Open-heart surgery can be viewed through an observation room directly above, on the third floor. Disposable surgical gloves are also introduced.

1963 - The Blood Bank moves to a new circular building (the "fish bowl"); blood collections begin on the NIH campus.

1964 - Harvey Alter (Clinical Center) and Baruch Blumberg (NIDDK) codiscover the Australian antigen, which Blumberg later shows to be the surface coating of the hepatitis B virus, leading to the isolation of this medically important virus. Blumberg later wins Nobel Prize. Alter does pioneering work in the causes and prevention of blood-transmitted infections, which helps lead to the discovery of the virus that causes hepatitis C and the development of screening methods that will reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted hepatitis.

1964 - John L. Doppman and associates in diagnostic radiology report the first successful imaging of the arteries that supply the spinal cord. The technique of spinal angiography makes surgical intervention possible where spinal arterial malformations, lesions, or tumors cause paralysis.

1965 - Clinical Pathology (CPD) acquires a Control Data 3200 computer, which fills a room the size of a small living room. Some instruments are placed online; other data are entered on key-punched cards. CPD begins using computers to manipulate lab data and report test results.

1966 - A Department of Nuclear Medicine is established in the Clinical Center, headed by Jack Davidson, to centralize imaging facilities for patients in any institute. Radiation Safety, Diagnostics, and the Whole Body Counter Division become part of Nuclear Medicine and the old Radiation Safety Division is abolished. President Lyndon B. Johnson visits the new department

1966 - Wanda S. Chappell, chief nurse in the Blood Bank, comes up with a simple but ingenious method for separating blood platelets (the smallest blood cells) from blood plasma, so that the platelets can be used for transfusion to leukemia patients and the rest of the blood can be used by others, including patients undergoing open heart surgery.

1966 - Additions to the Clinical Center (a library, cafeteria) are begun.

1968 - Diagnostic radiologist John L. Doppman develops a method for locating the parathyroid, a group of glands (each about the size of a BB pellet) that regulates calcium metabolism.

1968 - The first cancer patient enters the laminar flow room on 13 East

July 2, 1969 - A dedication ceremony was held to name the Clinical Center's Jack Masur Auditorium.

1970 - The Blood Bank switches to an all-volunteer donor system, adding a test for hepatitis B surface antigen. Those two measures alone reduce the hepatitis rate from 30 percent before 1970 to about 11 percent after. Later, when it adds more sensitive tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis B virtually disappears as a problem in the Blood Bank.

1972 - Clinical Pathology's Richard B. Friedman develops a computer program to teach students to diagnose illnesses by having the computer report symptoms, inform on test availability and cost, test results, and reactions to treatment.

1972 - Blood Bank scientists develop a test for AU antigen–agent associated with hepatitis. The test will be used nationally.

1974 - The Clinical Center Blood Bank develops a nationally recognized program in automated blood collection (apheresis), tissue typing (HLA), and an international reputation for research studies of red cell serology and hepatitis.

1976 - The new medical information system (MIS) goes live, one nursing unit at a time.

April 1977 - Construction of the ambulatory care research facility was started.

Sept. 1977 - Medicine for the Layman, a series of health seminars for the public, is launched

November 1977 - The Critical Care Medicine Department was established.

1977 - The Blood Bank establishes therapeutic apheresis/exchange programs that for decades will improve the lifespan and welfare of patients with such illnesses as sickle cell disease, hyperlipidemia, and autoimmune disorders. It also establishes the first automated platelet-pheresis center, collecting platelets for transfusion from volunteer donors using automated instrumentation.

October 22, 1981 - The outpatient clinic facility was dedicated. The research hospital was renamed the Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center, in honor of the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, who has actively supported biomedical research at NIH since 1937. (P.L. 96-518.)

1981 - As part of the design for the new ACRF, Clinical Pathology services (previously scattered) are brought under one roof—working together in one vast open room, except for specialized functions sequestered for safety purposes (such as the containment of radionuclides).

1982 - A new surgical facility opens on the second floor of the ACRF, with more space for equipment, larger operating suites, two viewing galleries, and better delivery systems.. Surgical Services performs more than 2,000 cancer, eye, and general surgical procedures a year. A surgical intensive care unit (2J) opens in conjunction with new surgical suites. Nurses in the new nursing unit face new challenges in caring for patients in septic shock and providing such therapies as continuous veno-venous hemofiltration (CVVH), hemodynamic monitoring, and ventilator support.

September 20, 1982 - The NIA Laboratory of Neurosciences was dedicated.

1983 - Clinical Pathology creates an immunology service, reflecting growing demand for sophisticated antibody and cellular-level diagnostic services.

March 22, 1984 - The first magnetic resonance imaging unit became operational for patient imaging.

October 1984 - NCI's Radiation Oncology Building was dedicated.

1984 - Clinical Center Blood Bank is renamed the Department of Transfusion Medicine (DTM) because its activities extend well beyond traditional blood banking. DTM achieves the first transmission of HIV (HTLV III) to a primate through transfusion and describes the HIV seronegative window.

April 13, 1985 - Two cyclotrons were delivered to the underground facility operated by the Nuclear Medicine Department.

1986 - As a charter member of the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), on December 2 the Clinical Center signs an agreement to become one of the first donor centers participating in the NMDP

November 20, 1987 - The Lipsett Amphitheater in the clinic was dedicated.

September 14, 1990 - A 4-year-old patient with adenosine deaminate deficiency was the first to receive gene therapy treatment.

April 8, 1991 - The Department of Transfusion Medicine opened its state of the art facility.

1991 - A thrombosis unit is established in Clinical Pathology's hematology service to help manage patients with coagulopathies. A virology section is redeveloped within Clinical Pathology's microbiology service. The original viral diagnostic unit had long since lapsed, for lack of clinical utility, but with the development of new diagnostic methodologies and new therapies, the need for such a service has become increasingly apparent.

June 1992 - The A-wing addition was completed, adding NCI and NIAID labs focusing on AIDS research.

July 1993 - The hematology/bone marrow unit opened to improve transplant procedures and develop gene therapy techniques.

May 1994 - First multi-institute unit designed and staffed for children opened.

1995 - Diagnostic Radiology installs a 20,000-pound magnetic resonance scanner in the courtyard outside Transfusion Medicine.

February 1996 - Details on clinical research studies conducted at the Clinical Center are made available on the World Wide Web (, increasing opportunities for physicians to participate in NIH clinical investigations.

November 1996 - A Board of Governors was appointed by the Secretary of HHS, marking a new governing system for the Clinical Center.

July 1997 -Transfusion Medicine Department launches a 3,000-square feet model core [cGMP] cell processing facility, created to meet increasing investigative needs for cell products used in research into new cellular therapies such as immunotherapy, gene therapy, stem cell transplantation, and pancreatic islet cell transplantation.

July 1997 - To meet increasing investigative needs for cell products used in immunotherapy, gene therapy, and stem cell transplantation, a cell processing facility was created.

November 4, 1997 - Vice President Al Gore and Senator Mark O. Hatfield attended groundbreaking ceremonies for the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center. The new center, which will include a modern research facility with a 250-bed hospital, outpatient care capability and research laboratories, is scheduled to be completed in 2004.

1999 - Clinical Pathology Department is renamed Department of Laboratory Medicine. A new laboratory information system is put in place for Laboratory Medicine, Transfusion Medicine, and the Pathology Lab.

2000 - The NIDDK and the Clinical Center (in collaboration with Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Naval Medical Research Center, and the Diabetes Research Institute of the University of Miami) launch a new kidney, pancreas, and islet transplant program. The idea is to test novel therapies that may eliminate the need for the immunosuppressive drugs patients take to keep their bodies from rejecting new transplanted organs. Soon after the program starts, Allan Kirk performs the NIH’s first successful kidney transplant procedure and David Harlan performs one of the first successful islet allotransplants in the United States.

2000 - Clinical Center launches a new Pain and Palliative Care Consult Service.

2000 - Harvey Alter , Department of Transfusion Medicine, receives the Lasker Award “for pioneering work leading to the discovery of the virus that causes hepatitis C and the development of screening methods that reduced risk associated with transfusion-associated hepatitis in the United States from 30 percent in 1970 to virtually zero in 2000.” Alter, who is also elected to the National Academy of Sciences, shares the award with Chiron’s Michael Houghton.

2000 - The Imaging Sciences Program takes first steps toward filmless radiology, unveiling the pilot phase of its new Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) and Radiology Information System (RIS). RIS is a sophisticated patient tracking system, which will track patient arrival and departure times, the start and end of exams, and when reports are dictated, read, and signed. It is expected to reduce patient waiting times, improve image availability, and minimize loss and misidentification of images and reports. Images stored in PACS/RIS originate from procedures and exams conducted in the Diagnostic Radiology, Nuclear Medicine, and PET Departments. They include CT scans, MR scans, PET scans, nuclear medicine scans, ultrasound examinations, and digital radiography examinations.

2001 - A second bone marrow transplant unit opens to support NCI protocols.

2002 - DTM establishes a model program for collecting blood from subjects with hereditary hemochromatosis. This program supplies 10% of the hospital's red cell needs.

October 29, 2002 - Groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Edmond J. Safra Family Lodge at NIH. Located steps away from the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center, the lodge will provide a comfortable home away from home for the families and caretakers of Clinical Center patients.

CC Legislative Chronology

July 1, 1944 - Public Law 78-410, the Public Health Service Act, authorized establishment of the Clinical Center.

July 8, 1947 - Under P.L. 80-165, research construction provisions of the Appropriations Act for FY 1948 provided funds "For the acquisition of a site, and the preparation of plans, specifications, and drawings, for additional research buildings and a 600-bed clinical research hospital and necessary accessory buildings related thereto to be used in general medical research...."

Biographical Sketch of CC Director John I. Gallin, M.D.

Dr. Gallin became CC director and NIH associate director for clinical research on May 1, 1994. Prior to his appointment, he had served as director, Division of Intramural Research, NIAID, since 1985 and as chief of its Laboratory of Host Defenses since 1991.

He graduated with honors from Amherst College in 1965. He earned an M.D. degree at Cornell University Medical College in 1969. He was an intern, resident, and senior chief medical resident at New York University-Bellevue Hospital Medical Center. He received an honorary doctor of science from Amherst College in 1988.

Dr. Gallin's primary research centers on how phagocytes - the body's scavenger cells - function. When the cells fail to produce the oxygen-rich chemicals that normally kill germs, a rare hereditary immune disorder - chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) - results.

His laboratory has actively pursued gene therapy for the treatment of CGD. He also has helped lead investigations demonstrating that the immune stimulant interferon-gamma reduces infections in CGD. Currently, he and his colleagues are pursuing the use of interferon-gamma in the treatment of other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.

Dr. Gallin lectures internationally on inflammation and topics of host defense. Among his honors are the PHS Distinguished Service Award, the Young Investigator Award of the American Federation for Clinical Research, and the Squibb Award of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. In 1991 he received the PHS award for orphan product development, an honor that recognizes work in finding treatments for diseases and disorders that affect a small number of patients worldwide.

Clinical Center Directors

In Office From
Jack Masur
John A. Trautman
1951 1954
Donald W. Patrick
1954 1956
Thomas C. Chalmers
1970 1973
Robert S. Gordon, Jr.
1974 1975
Mortimer B. Lipsett
1976 1982
John L. Decker
1983 1990
Saul Rosen (Acting)
1990 1994
John I. Gallin
May 1, 1994  

Major Programs

Clinical Research. Clinical Center departments conducting and supporting clinical research are: Anesthesia and Surgical Services; Clinical Pathology; Critical Care; Hospital Epidemiology; Imaging Sciences (comprising Diagnostic Radiology, the Laboratory of Diagnostic Radiology Research, Nuclear Medicine, and Positron Emissions Tomography Departments); Nursing; Pharmacy; Rehabilitation Medicine; and Transfusion Medicine.

Patient Care and Support. Departments that provide direct care and support for patients include Housekeeping and Fabric Care; Information Systems; Materials Management; Medical Records; Nutrition; Outpatient; Social Work; and Spiritual Ministry, along with the Patient Representative Program. The Clinical Center operates a guest house for families involved with clinical research here.

Office of the Director. Programs within this office support the management and operational needs of the CC, including administrative management and planning; patient recruitment and public liaison; communications; the children's school; clinical bioethics; hospital safety; facilities management; financial management; human resources; and technology transfer.

Education. The Clinical Center has assumed a broad role in helping prepare the next generation of clinical researchers and strengthen educational opportunities for today's physician-scientists. New programs include "Introduction to the Principles and Practice of Clinical Research"; postdoctoral training in clinical pharmacology; a clinical bioethics fellowship; training in biomedical imaging research; and a collaboration with the School of Medicine at Duke University that leads to graduate degree.

This page was last reviewed on June 21, 2005 .

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