NIH Press Release
Office of the Director, NIH

Thursday, June 14, 2001
Contact: Marc Stern
(301) 496-2535

The National Institutes of Health Dedicates
New Laboratory Building in Honor of Louis Stokes

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today dedicated the Louis Stokes Laboratories (NIH Building 50), a new six-story building that will house advanced scientific projects by at least nine NIH institutes and centers. The building is named for The Honorable Louis Stokes, who represented his Ohio District in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years. Mr. Stokes is an enthusiastic supporter of biomedical research and a champion for eliminating health disparities in the nation's minority, poor, underserved, and disadvantaged communities. He is also senior counsel at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, a global law firm, and senior visiting scholar at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Mr. Stokes was the first African American member of Congress from the State of Ohio, later became the dean of the Ohio Congressional Delegation, and was founder and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust.

At the dedication ceremony, the current chair of the Black Caucus Health Braintrust, U.S. Representative Donna Christian-Christensen, M.D., called Mr. Stokes her role model. "He gave America a legacy of hope against health disparities, and his caring counsel will continue until proper health care is available for all Americans". She represents the U.S. Virgin Islands, and is the first female physician to serve in the U.S. Congress.

Dr. Louis Sullivan, President of the Morehouse School of Medicine and a former Secretary of Health and Human Services, described Mr. Stokes as a strong supporter of biomedical research who is committed to improving the health of all Americans. "Our nation is better off because a committed public servant named Louis Stokes provided his ideas, strategies, and negotiation skills to the cause of the well-being of Americans."

Dr. John Ruffin, who directs NIH's National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, said that Mr. Stokes "has devoted his life to insuring that all Americans will benefit from the fruits of science. His wisdom, leadership, and humanity are the foundations that help people now and for future generations."

Acting NIH Director, Ruth L. Kirschstein, M.D., discussed working closely with Mr. Stokes for many years to enhance the opportunities for minority young people to pursue careers in biomedical research. "Of all the facilities on the NIH campus, this is the first named in honor of an African American. Today we are doing something that he has done so often in his illustrious career and in his life. We are opening a new door — a door to state-of-the-art facilities, but more importantly, a door to myriad new opportunities and possibilities." Two of the hundreds of scientists poised to occupy the new laboratories spoke about their work on the structural biology of skin and on the genetics of prostate cancer in African Americans.

Mr. Stokes accepted a replica of the building plaque, and told the audience that he is proud of his efforts to "better the health of all Americans — especially minorities and women". He thanked everyone involved in the planning, design, and construction of the laboratories building. He offered special appreciation to Frank Kutlak, the lead architect of the building.