October 18, 1985

NIH: An Account of Research in Its Laboratories and Clinics

Author Affiliations

Cable Health Network Los Angeles


edited by DeWitt Stetten, Jr, and W. T. Carrigan, 554 pp, with illus, $35, Orlando, Fla, Academic Press Inc, 1984.

JAMA. 1985;254(15):2151. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360150131044

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


This volume demonstrates the central role of the intramural program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in sowing the seeds of science in US medicine. The scope of medical discovery accomplished by this venerable institution is remarkable. And, since medical advances may be among the most important legacies of US culture, a detailed reminiscence about research at the NIH is both inspiring and instructive.

The authors of the 44 essays that make up the book have impeccable scientific credentials. Each has led major research programs. Their abilities to narrate a history of scientific investigation in their specialties vary, however. Many of the essays are tedious recitations of countless names and details with little sense of the achievement and the drama of the research. Generally, there is an inverse relationship between the length of the essay and its merit. Even Nobel laureates and other geniuses can be boring.

Still, the