News Release

Monday, February 6, 2012

New, free e-biography released

Get to know an NIH icon — the “Remarkable” Ruth Kirschstein.

Always There: the Remarkable Life of Ruth Lillian Kirschstein, M.D., a new biography released Feb. 6, tells the rare story of a woman who was as comfortable conversing with lawmakers on Capitol Hill as she was bringing science to children in inner-city classrooms.

Medical Scientist. Classical pianist. Physician. Art lover. Humanitarian. Research Administrator. Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, who died in October 2009, will be remembered not only for the many roles she played throughout her life, but also for the many lives she touched in the course of 83 years. Always There walks readers through those years, as the young Ruth grows from a talented, curious child into a courageous, confident woman who overcomes obstacles and illness — personally and professionally.

Ruth once observed, looking back over her life, "It never occurred to me that I could not do anything I wanted." This is a story for non-scientists who will learn about the life and legacy of a researcher who embodied the spirit of the National Institutes of Health. It is a story for scientists who will see additional insights into the evolution of polio vaccine. It is a story for administrators who will have a close-up view of how one strong woman got things done. Above all, it is an inspirational story for young people pursuing the sciences who will see the many ways a scientist can share their talents.

With a foreword co-authored by her husband and son, Alan Rabson, M.D., and Arnold Rabson, M.D., the book is a biography that often reads like a memoir, using Kirschstein's own words and impressions folded in with the words of the people who knew her best.

Author Alison F. Davis, Ph.D., wove candid moments of Ruth Kirschstein — captured on video and audio recordings — together with dozens of interviews with family, friends and colleagues to paint a richly-layered portrait of the woman some knew as skilled scientist and administrator, and others knew as trusted advisor and mentor. Whether or not personally acquainted with Ruth Kirschstein, readers will get to know her closely in Always There.

As NIH Deputy Director for Intramural Research Michael Gottesman, M.D., noted in the book's introduction, "So who was this woman…? She was the daughter of immigrants, a dedicated student, a direct victim of inequality…a wife, a mother, an astute researcher, a visionary administrator…Ruth was many things to many people. And her story begins on Ellis Island." Always There tells the Kirschstein story, offering invaluable personal perspectives and anecdotes.

The book is available, free of charge, for wide release in several digital formats, including for Kindle, Nook and iPad at

The sponsorship of the book was a collaborative effort by the Office of Intramural Research, the NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison in the Office of the Director, and with support from the Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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