About NIH

National Institutes of Health

For over a century, NIH scientists have paved the way for important discoveries that improve health and save lives. In fact, 148 Nobel Prize winners have received support from NIH. Their studies have led to the development of MRI, understanding of how viruses can cause cancer, insights into cholesterol control, and knowledge of how our brain processes visual information, among dozens of other advances.

The National Institutes of Health traces its roots to 1887, when a one-room laboratory was created within the Marine Hospital Service (MHS), predecessor agency to the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS).

The MHS had been established in 1798 to provide for the medical care of merchant seamen. In the 1880s, the MHS had been charged by Congress with examining passengers on arriving ships for clinical signs of infectious diseases, especially for the dreaded diseases cholera and yellow fever, in order to prevent epidemics. Read A Short History of NIH.