This nameplate, left on the wall when Building 7 on the NIH campus was vacated, belonged to Dr. Preeti Subramanian, a research fellow in Dr. Patricia Becerra’s NEI laboratory. NEI laboratories inhabited Building 7 from 2003-2009 while their own building was undergoing renovations.
Some people are able to concentrate better when drawing — this seems to have been the case for Dr. Wallace P. Rowe, NIAID. These drawings were penned by Rowe during a conference he attended in Europe in the 1960s. In addition to clear notes on the science being presented, he also filled the pages of this leather-bound notepad with drawings of the speakers and of the scenery near the conference site.
Rowe began his career as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Robert Huebner’s NIAID laboratory in Building 7 on the NIH campus, where he isolated the first human adenoviruses. Subsequently, he headed his own laboratory in Building 7, where he worked on viral carcinogenesis. He eventually became chief of the Laboratory of Viral Diseases, until his death in 1983.
After the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health was published in 1964, the federal government began an active anti-smoking campaign. This poster, produced in 1968, lists the amounts of nicotine and tar present in the popular cigarette brands of the time and was perhaps a scientific way to encourage NIH staff to quit smoking. It hung in a hallway in Building 7 until the building was renovated in 2002.
In 1951, a serious influenza epidemic in Hungary left researchers without sufficient laboratory equipment to perform viral and serum titrations. Dr. Gyula Takatsy, seeking a way to replace the test tubes, plates, and pipettes in short supply, came up with an ingenious solution: he drilled multiple wells into a single block of plexiglass, and used calibrated metal loops to transfer defined amounts of media and viral cultures into each well. All of the components were easy to sterilize, allowing multiple reuses. After optimizing the technique, he found that he was able to comfortably hold 8 metal loops with different dilutions in his hand at one time and drilled his plexiglass plates accordingly, thus creating the standard 8x12 96 well microtiter plates widely used today. The microtiter technique was not popularized outside of Hungary until 1956, and was not introduced to the NIH until 1962 when Dr. John L. Sever, NINDB, brought it with him. This kit, made at the original factory in Hungary, was used in Building 7 by Dr. Robert Purcell’s laboratory for metabolic inhibition studies and early testing of antibodies against hepatitis.
Over the years, the building underwent several renovations, during which the ventilation system was carefully preserved. This 1987 memo, which once hung in the machine room on the first floor of Building 7, reminded maintenance personnel to treat the old vents gently
Electron microscopy [EM] requires many specialized implements, such as these Better Equipment for Electron Microscopy Inc. [BEEM] Dial-a-Grid storage units. To study biological samples via EM, they are placed on a small copper grid made of very fine mesh; these boxes store and protect such grids, and are designed to expose only a single grid at a time, reducing the chances that other grids in the device will be damaged when removing one. This design was patented in 1967 by Stanley Brown, a BEEM employee.
These Dial-a-Grid storage units held grids used for the electron microscope in the sub-basement of Building 7. Dr. Albert Kapikian, NIAID, made extensive use of this microscope in his virology research. It was instrumental in his discovery of the Norwalk virus family, the first human gastroenteritis viruses ever isolated.
Before Powerpoint (or personal computers) existed, presentations were given using lantern slides and a special projector. Lantern slides were the first method invented to easily make a photograph visible to a large audience. Patented in 1850, they continued to be used through the 1950s, and thereafter were still used in a reduced-size format at academic institutions until 35mm film became the lowest-cost option.
These slides were used by Dr. Albert Kapikian to present virology research performed in his Building 7 laboratory in the 1970s. Along with other NIAID investigators, Dr. Kapikian participated in virus identification studies using samples obtained from a group home for neglected children, and was able to isolate the virus causing para-influenza from these samples. These data, along with data on the effectiveness of measles vaccine, are preserved in the slides above.
Dr. Dorland J. Davis, to whom this officer’s hat belonged, was the director of NIAID from 1964–1975. He joined the Public Health Service in 1939, served in North Africa investigating endemic diseases during World War II, and then returned as chief of NIAID’s Laboratory of Infectious Diseases in Building 7. He eventually became NIAID’s director of Intramural Research before becoming director of the Institute. As NIAID’s Director, he established the first allergic disease centers at universities around the country.
Building 7 was designed to have a variety of ways to protect laboratory workers from the infectious organisms they studied. To separate “clean” building areas and the outside of the building from the “dirty” laboratories where disease agents were studied, Building 7 was constructed so that a set of changing/shower rooms connecting the two areas were the only means into and out of the laboratories. Scientists were expected to at least cover their street clothes with a set of government-issued coveralls upon entering the laboratory, and to remove them when exiting. These coveralls belonged to Dr. Edward Beeman, a fellow at NIAID in the early 1950s.
Building 7 was home to NIAID’s Laboratory of Infectious Diseases (LID), primarily its virology laboratories. The viruses causing Hepatitis A, B, and C were discovered there. Hepatitis A is the most widespread of the three; while it normally causes a mild inflammation of the liver, in some cases the inflammation may become chronic, leading to liver failure and death. Before the development of HAVRIX, the first Hepatitis A vaccine with a long-term prophylactic effect, only purified antibodies against Hepatitis A were able to protect people from the disease (usually spread by contaminated food and water), and they only worked for a few months. Dr. Robert Purcell of LID and his laboratory engineered an attenuated form of the Hepatitis A virus and developed methods to grow and harvest the virus from cell culture. The company presently known as Glax0-SmithKline entered a cooperative agreement with the NIH in 1986 to develop a vaccine using the attenuated virus as an antigen, and the FDA approved HAVRIX in 1995.