National Institutes of Health Biomedical Research History Interest Group

Biomedical Research History Interest Group

sig logo, nothing bigBRHIG is open to everyone interested in the history of biomedical research at NIH or elsewhere. In addition to the presentation and discussion of work-in-progress, the group will serve as a forum for discussion of issues of common interest, such as the identification and development of source materials; the uses and pitfalls of oral histories in research; and collaborations between historians and the biomedical community.  The interest group's moderator is Barbara Harkins.

Forthcoming Events

History in the NIH

Date/Time: 6 June 2012 / 12:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Venue: Wilson Hall, Building 1, National Institutes of Health

Conference program (PDF – 300KB)

This Symposium is a ‘progress report’ by the four current  fellows in the Office of History.  Their presentations explore  biostatistics and biometry at the NIH, the problem of Leber’s Hereditary Optic  Neuropathy, Joseph Kinyoun (the founder of the forerunner of NIH/NIAID), and  the origins of NIAAA and NIDA in the 1970s.
Stetten Day 2012




Past Events

Graduate and Post-Doctoral Student Symposium
Date: 6 June 2010
Venue: Lister Hill Visitor’s Center (Building 38A), National ibrary of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

program cover


This Symposium – cosponsored by the Office of History, the National Library of Medicine, and the Washington Society for the History of Medicine – aims to provide a forum for graduate and post-doctoral students in the history of medicine and the biomedical sciences in the Washington DC area to discuss issues of common interest.
For further details and registration please download the
conference program.


History in the NIH

Date: 15 June 2010

Time: 8:30 - 5:30 p.m.

Venue: Conference Room D, Building 45 (Natcher) - National Institutes of Health


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The Symposium is a 'progress report' by the seven Stetten fellows in the Office of History. Their presentations explored the NCI’s cancer virus program in the 1970s, public responses to Leptin and obesity, nanotechnology and cancer, the NIH consensus development program, complementary and alternative medicine at the NIH, the history of psychosurgery, and the role of the NIH in the development of research ethics. 

For further details please download the conference program (above). For the conference poster click here.      


2009 Events


History in the NIH 

Date: June 16, 2009  

This symposium was a "progress report" by the four Stetten fellows in the Office of History. Their presentations explore NCI's cancer virus program in the 1970s; NIH research on cholesterol; complementary and alternative medicine at the NIH; and the role of the NIH in the development of research ethics.  For further details, please download the conference program.


Role of the Research Physician: From Golden Past to Threatened Future?

Date: March 26-27, 2009


Feature article in the March-April 2009 issue of The NIH Catalyst

Physicians who devote themselves to biomedical research have played crucial roles in the development of scientific medicine for more than 100 years. A variety of institutions—hospitals, medical foundations, the Public Health Service, most notably the NIH, universities, and pharmaceutical companies—have supported their research.  Since the ‘Golden Era’ of physician-scientists, roughly 1950 to the mid-1970s, leaders in each research context have expressed increasing concern about the ability of physician-scientists to sustain themselves and their research tradition.  This conference brought together for the first time leading physician researchers, organizational leaders, historians, and social scientists for a multi-disciplinary exploration of the physician-scientist research tradition, its changing contours, and the challenges and opportunities it faces going forward. It sought to elucidate the many different meanings of the term ‘research physician,’ whether there ever was a ‘golden past,’ and if the future is really so bleak as the title of this meeting suggests.


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Finished Proofs? A Symposium to Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Publication of On the Origin of Species (1859)

Conference program (PDF - 2.2MB)

Date/Time: 1 October 2009 / 9:00 - 6:15 p.m.

Venue: Lister Hill Auditorium, National Library of Medicine (NIH), 8600 Rockville Pike, Bldg. 38A, Bethesda, MD

This symposium (co-organized by the Office of History and the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine) brings together leading historians, philosophers, and scientists to explore changing understandings of Darwinian theory in the last 150 years.




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