chapter  51
The Invention of the NIH
Pages 2

No other title describes better the extraordinary development of the pristine organization that in time would be named the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH represents pure American pride and ingenuity. Victoria Harden, in her well-researched biography of the N IH ,1 pointed out a remark of Robert Bock from the American Societies of Experimental Biology in a newsletter to Representative Henry Waxman: “If we did not have NIH we would have to invent it.”2 Indeed, how truthful that statement has become, particularly as we recognize the great accom­ plishments of the NIHfor the country and the world as a whole. Scarcely anybody would have believed that the oneroom Hygienic Laboratory established in the Ma­ rine Hospital Service at Staten Island, New York, in 1887, with a budget of $300, would have reached the pinnacle that we are witnessing today. The NIH, which was officially recognized in 1948, had a gigantic budget of over $20 billion in 2001, with 73 buildings, 300 acres, and 27 institutes and centers under its tutelage. It is an invention difficult to surpass, and one that represents the commitment and dedica­ tion of the American spirit and determination. The combination of competence and resources makes this unique organization one of incredible value to the nation and its citizens.