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Origins of the National Institutes of Health
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The National Institutes of Health

Department Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Flag. The flag is dark red with white fringe around the outside of the flag. In the center of the flag is a white shield. In the center of the shield is a is the Rod of Asclepius, consisting of a serpent entwined around a staff on top of a opened book. Just above the shield is an eagle with its wings outstretched. Below the shield is a white banner with the words Spes Anchora Vitae.
Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Flag, 1953 to 1980.

On June 16, 1948, the National Heart Act, changed the name of the National Institute of Health to the National Institutes of Health, The NIH budget was $29 million. Over the next several decades, new institutes were created in the NIH, the Bethesda grounds were expanded to over 300 acres, and scores of buildings were erected.

Department of Health and Human Services flag. The flag is blue with gold fringe. In the center of flag is the Department of Health and Human Services logo featuring the American People sheltered in the wing of the American Eagle. Around the outside of the logo are the words Department of Health and Human Services, USA.
Department of Health and Human Services, 1980 to present.

1953 was an important year. The Clinical Center, NIH's research hospital, was dedicated and its first patient admitted on July 6. On April 11, 1953, the Public Health Service, including the National Institutes of Health, became part of the newly created Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The maroon and white HEW flag contains the medical Caduceus of Aesculapius with its single snake, and a Latin motto meaning "Hope is the anchor of life."

During the next years the NIH's budget, staff, and responsibilities greatly expanded. The NIH budget in 1967 was $1.4 billion; grew in 1977 to $2.5 billion; and in 1987 was $6.2 billion. The technology that allows for genetic engineering emerged in this period. NIH developed the "Pap test" to diagnose cervical cancer.

The final change in flags under which the NIH has served occurred on May 14, 1980, with the creation of the Department of Health and Human Services. The blue and gold flag features an abstract eagle composed of human profiles.




The flag of the United States of America now contains 50 stars for its 50 states and was adopted on July 4, 1960.


The United States flag consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the union bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars alternating with rows of five stars.
The 50-Star United States of America Flag, 1960 to present.
President Harry Truman, full length, standing, right pose assist in laying the corner stone during the dedication ceremony of the Clinical Center. Behind him are (l. to r.) NIH Director William H. Sebrell, FSA Administrator Oscar R. Ewing, primary contractor John McShain, and Surgeon General Leonard A. Scheele.
President Truman lays the cornerstone for the Clinical Center, June 22, 1951.
Headquarters of the NIH facilities in Bethesda, Maryland with several other buildings in the background.
Headquarters of the NIH facilities in Bethesda, Maryland.
The Nobel Prize medal featuring an image of Alfred Nobel, head and shoulders, left profile view.
Deciphering the genetic code won a Nobel Prize for an NIH scientist in 1968.