News Release

Monday, April 14, 2008

NIH's National Library of Medicine Opens Exciting New Interactive Exhibition, "Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health"

The National Library of Medicine, the world's largest medical library and a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will open a new interactive exhibition, "Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health" with a special program Wednesday, April 16, 10:00-11:00 a.m. in Lister Hill Auditorium, Building 38A, on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md. The exhibition opens to the public April 17.

"Against the Odds" presents a look at the public health problems posed by Hurricane Katrina. It showcases the barefoot doctors program, which trained over one million young people to treat the common ailments of residents of rural China in the 1960s and 1970s. The exhibition also profiles a campaign for oral rehydration in Bangladesh that was so successful that it has been adopted in Afghanistan as well. In another example of nation-to-nation collaboration, "Against the Odds" shows how the Pholela Health Center in South Africa inspired the community health center movement in the U.S.

Throughout, harnessing the best of 21st century technology, engaging text and graphics, and interesting objects, "Against the Odds" focuses on how individuals and communities, in collaboration with scientists, advocates, governments and international organizations, have made and are making a difference in the health of people around the globe.

"The National Library of Medicine has long been more of an international library than a national one," observed NLM Director Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg. "Most of the scientific articles we index are written outside the U.S. and almost half of the MEDLINE ( inquiries we receive are from outside this country. We have many formal partnerships with other nations, too, to provide training and to facilitate interlibrary loan.

"The fact that the Internet has made our vast holdings accessible to people around the globe certainly helps in the fight against the complex and widespread health challenges facing the world today," he continued. "'Against the Odds' captures many of the successes in world health policy, such as the eradication of smallpox, and cautions us about potential pitfalls, like the kind of discrimination that can take place when people don't understand the facts about the transmission of HIV/AIDS."

"People all over the world share a commitment to a better life and a healthier future for all," commented Dr. Elizabeth Fee, chief of NLM's History of Medicine Division. "This exhibition highlights some of their achievements as well as the challenges that remain, and encourages each of us to join the fight for health and human rights." Dr. Fee's office manages the Library's exhibition program.

The opening program will feature persons whose stories appear in the exhibition, such as:

  • Dr. Victoria Cargill, director of clinical studies and director of minority research of the NIH Office of AIDS Research, Bethesda, Md., and a respected AIDS clinician in Washington, D.C.;
  • Dr. Jack Geiger, New York City, a founding member and past president of Physicians for Human Rights, and the architect of the community health center network in the United States; and
  • Jeanne White Ginder, Leesburg, Fla., mother of the late Ryan White, and an advocate for people living with HIV and AIDS.

The session will also feature a panel of young activists. They are:

  • Gyawu Mahama, Washington, D.C. and Peachtree City, Ga. An undergraduate at the George Washington University, pursuing a double major in international affairs and global public health, Mahama is an active member of the GW chapter of the Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC). He has participated in World AIDS Day demonstrations, and his chapter of SGAC helped provide free oral HIV testing to GWU students;
  • Niko and Theo Milonopoulos, Palo Alto, Calif. The brothers, students at Stanford University, founded Kidz Voice-LA and Vox Populi after a series of shootings in their hometown, North Hollywood. They encourage young people to get involved in the prevention of gun violence, have led marches and rallies, and have testified at legislative hearings;
  • Michael Tees, M.D., M.P.H. (May 2008), New Orleans, La. Tees co-founded the Tulane University chapter of Student Physicians for Social Responsibility during his first year of medical school, in 2004. The group educates students and the local community about environmental health issues. After Hurricane Katrina, the organization maintained its educational mission and continued its community-based emphasis by working with local groups. One such project, Releaf New Orleans, involved planting trees in neighborhoods devastated by the storm; and
  • Tanya Wansom, Ann Arbor, Mich. As a medical student at the University of Michigan and a member of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), Wansom has trained future physicians to educate middle and high school students about HIV/AIDS.

CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen will moderate a discussion with the persons listed above. NLM Director Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg will also make remarks.

The audience for the April 16 program, which is meant not only to educate but to inspire, will include students from: Quince Orchard High School, Gaithersburg, Md.; Blessed Sacrament School, Washington, D.C.; Woodrow Wilson High School, Washington, D.C.; and the Medical and Health Specialty Program at Maury High School, Norfolk, Va.

After the formal program, the speakers and the audience will adjourn for the ribbon cutting in NLM's exhibition space, and explore the exhibition with its curator and senior NLM staff.

Please contact Kathy Cravedi ( and 301-594-7170) or Melanie Modlin ( and 301-496-7771) at the National Library of Medicine for access to the following resources, available in advance to members of the press:

  • By-appointment preview tours of the exhibition, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., April 8-14, 2008
  • Thumbnails of images from the exhibition
  • Availability of key NLM staff and individuals featured in the exhibition, for interviews before, during and after the opening event
  • A DVD with interviews and images featured in the exhibition

The program, with captioning, will be available as a live videocast, at, and the archived proceedings can be viewed afterwards.

Located in Bethesda, Md., the National Library of Medicine is the world's largest library of the health sciences. For more information, visit the Web site at

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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