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Health Agencies Update
January 16, 2002

NIH Defense Plan in the Works

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JAMA. 2002;287(3):308. doi:10.1001/jama.287.3.308

On September 12, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md, changed from a relaxed, open campus to what the Washington Post described as a "fortress." Visitor traffic arriving at the 300-acre complex via a dozen entrances is now funneled into two checkpoints, where security staff poke long-handled mirrors under cars and trucks, searching for bombs. For the first time, employees are required to display identification tags.

While these measures changed the landscape considerably, Acting Director Ruth Kirschstein, MD, said that planning for a stronger "perimeter defense" is under way. "Life at NIH will never be the same," she said at a December meeting of the Advisory Committee to the Director. "We are an attractive target."

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