Note: The following story is based on an editorial by Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of NIEHS and the National Toxicology Program (NTP), published in this month’s issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
On Nov. 1, NIEHS will celebrate its 50th anniversary, five decades after the U.S. Surgeon General announced the establishment of the Division of Environmental Health Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Today, from its home in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, NIEHS funds more than $750 million in research each year to discover how the environment influences human health and disease.
It is my honor and privilege to serve as the NIEHS director during this significant milestone in the institute’s history, and I see it as an opportunity to highlight the improvements to public health that have resulted from environmental science research. I also want to bring together health researchers supported by NIEHS, and NIH as a whole, for networking and collaboration. I’m really excited about all the scientific and public outreach activities we’ve planned for the 2016 anniversary year.
Events throughout the year
This month, on Jan. 21, NIEHS will hold a public 50th anniversary kick-off event featuring retirees who will share their reflections on scientific progress, professional experiences, and personal memories at the institute.
As the year progresses, we’ll initiate a time capsule and begin collecting nominations for items to fill it, so that we can share our 2016 NIEHS research and culture with future staff and science historians. We’ll host several distinguished lectures and hear from top scientists, including Gina Turrigiano, Ph.D.; Gerard Karsenty, M.D., Ph.D.; Myles Brown, M.D.; and Jeffrey Gordon, M.D. All these lectures will be open to the public and webcast live from our website.
NIEHS will partner with the Society of Toxicology in July for a daylong symposium on technological advances, and with the Endocrine Society in September for a three-day workshop on endocrine disruptor research. A Women’s Health Awareness Day at North Carolina Central University, a public forum at the Research Triangle Foundation, and a Science in the Cinema program at Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh are just a few ways NIEHS will engage the communities surrounding Research Triangle Park to share information about environmental health and the value of our research.
On the anniversary day of Nov. 1, 2016, hundreds of research partners, grantees, and public health officials will join institute staff and alumni for a very special program celebrating the history, scientific advances, and public health contributions resulting from the unique and prevention-focused research supported by NIEHS.
Finally, in December, for the first time ever, we’ll bring together all our grant-funded research center directors and their key scientific staff from across the United States for a lively exchange of research findings, methods, and community engagement practices. A full calendar of events is posted on the NIEHS website, and I hope our friends and partners will plan to join us often. We’ll also be posting fun and interesting photos and recordings from the past 50 years.
We hope you’ll take the opportunity in 2016 to tell someone you know about NIEHS and what it has meant to you. I’d love to hear your stories, and I’ll add them to my own, which began 36 years ago when I started my federal research career as a senior staff fellow at NIEHS.