Driving Discovery Through Data

0 You’ll Want to See This! “First in Human” Debuts Tonight!
/ 08.10.17

For over 60 years, the NIH Clinical Center—the world’s largest hospital dedicated to clinical research—has been at the forefront of developing treatments for our most deadly and damaging diseases. It’s here at our “House of Hope” in Bethesda, MD, where, among many other medical firsts, chemotherapy was first used to treat cancerous tumors, gene therapy underwent its first human tests, surgeons first successfully replaced the heart’s mitral valve, and the first anti-viral drug for HIV/AIDS met with early success.

Now, in a Discovery Channel documentary called First in Human, millions of people all around the globe will get a chance to see the doctors, nurses, and other staff of NIH’s remarkable research hospital in action. Narrated by Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons, the three-part series debuts at 9 p.m.-11 p.m., ET, Thursday, August 10. The second and third segments will air at the same time on August 17 and 24.

Filmed in the Clinical Center between September 2015 and June 2016, First in Human follows four seriously ill patients—two with cancer and two with rare, inherited diseases—as they take part in clinical trials of experimental therapies. By volunteering for such research with no guarantee that they themselves would benefit, these four brave individuals helped to build the foundation for tomorrow’s breakthroughs. When you consider all of the medical “firsts” made possible by clinical research, it’s clear that we owe an enormous debt of gratitude not only to these patients, but to everyone who participates in clinical studies at the Clinical Center and across the nation.

To produce this extraordinary documentary, Discovery camera crews recorded over 1,000 hours of footage and received consent to film over 1,000 staff members at the Clinical Center. I want to personally thank all of the Clinical Center staff, as well as the patients and their loved ones, who agreed to share their stories with the viewing public. I know it wasn’t always easy, and not every story has a happy ending, but the result stands as a moving testament to why so many people have come to call the National Institutes of Health the “National Institutes of Hope.”


Discovery Documentary First in Human (NIH)

First in Human: Discovery Documentary on the NIH Clinical Center (NIH Clinical Center)

NIH Clinical Research Trials and You

NIH Clinical Center

Frequently Asked Questions (NIH Clinical Center)

Timeline of Clinical Center, The NIH Almanac


About the Author:

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. was appointed the 16th Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate. He was sworn in on August 17, 2009. On June 6, 2017, President Donald Trump announced his selection of Dr. Collins to continue to serve as the NIH Director. In this role, Dr. Collins oversees the work of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, spanning the spectrum from basic to clinical research. 

Dr. Collins is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book. He served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH from 1993-2008.

Before coming to NIH, Dr. Collins was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Michigan. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007, and received the National Medal of Science in 2009.

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