NIEHS 50th Anniversary – Time Capsule Project

As part of the NIEHS 50th Anniversary commemoration, the institute established a time capsule to create a permanent collection of NIEHS history – its research and its culture--to share with future staff and science historians.

On November 1, 1966, the NIH began a research program specifically devoted to understanding how the environment influences human health. That small, but important program grew into the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The original 1966 mission statement was nothing short of visionary for its time. The statement read, "Its program will be directed to a better understanding of the complex, interrelated phenomena underlying the human body's reaction to the increasingly wide range of chemical, physical, biological, and social environmental influences imposed by modern living, with the objective of developing the knowledge necessary for devising effective measures to protect man from environmental factors found to be harmful."

Now, the NIEHS mission statement simply reads "to discover how the environment affects people in order to promote healthier lives," but NIEHS programs continue to support a broad range of basic, clinical, and public health research on topics as diverse as the many components of our environment.

Our 50th Anniversary has been a great opportunity to identify historic artifacts that tell the story of NIEHS. More than 50 nominations were received. The 50th Anniversary Committee collected, cataloged, and prepared each item for the 25-year storage.

Here is a full list (192KB) of items preserved in the time capsule.

ItemStatement of Historical SignificanceNominator
Deed for NIEHS campusThe Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Wilbur Cohen, accepted the deed to what is now the NIEHS campus from Governor Luther Hodges, Research Triangle Foundation board chairman, in 1968.Debi del Corral
50th anniversary event programProgram from the NIEHS 50th anniversary celebration on November 1, 2016, signed by the speakers.50th Anniversary Committee
50th anniversary history and milestone bookletBooklet produced by the NIEHS 50th Anniversary Committee to commemorate 50 years of NIEHS research.50th Anniversary Committee
EHS FEST welcome letter from Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D.The Environmental Health Science Festival was held December 5-8, 2016, as part of the NIEHS 50th anniversary celebration. More than 1,600 extramural researchers, trainees, young investigators, community partners, and stakeholders came together from across the U.S. to discuss past accomplishments and explore the future of environmental health science in the 21st century.Liam O'Fallon and Mike Humble
Brick from the foundation of a house that stood on the RTP federal siteThe brick speaks to the humble history of the RTP site as farmland for a few families. The brick remained on the NIEHS/EPA campus until the EPA side of the lake was ready for development.Chris Long
March 2006 issue of the Environmental Health PerspectivesEnvironmental Health Perspectives (EHP) is the monthly peer-reviewed journal of research and news. Published since 1972, with NIEHS support, EHP plays an important role in disseminating research and scientific information throughout the world. Online only since January 2013, its archives are a great snapshot of the state of the science at various points in time. The March 2006 issue, the last one in print format, focused on epigenetics.Shaun Halloran, Susan Booker, and Dorothy Ritter
Sister Study recruitment productsThe Sister Study was and continues to be a tremendous and ambitious undertaking for NIEHS and will be a great resource for years to come. Under the leadership of the study's lead researchers Dale Sandler, Ph.D., and Clarice Weinberg, Ph.D., NIEHS scientists developed the unique design when challenged to find new approaches to study how the environment contributes to breast cancer. With the help of local and national partners, the Sister Study had enrolled more than 50,000 participants by 2009.Dale Sandler
NIEHS 3-D printed logo3-D print technology has rapidly evolved from a specialized technique to one that is readily accessible and affordable in the lab and at home. On October 24-25, 2015, NIEHS hosted a 3-D expo to introduce the concept and everyday use of 3-D printing to NIEHS personnel. This is the very first 3-D print product to be made on-site.Gary Bird
Memento messages from NIEHS staff attending the 50th anniversary eventAttendees at the 50th anniversary event on November 1, 2016, shared their thoughts and well-wishes for NIEHS and the field of environmental health.50th Anniversary Committee
Medallions for the NIEHS World Trade Center and Hurricane Katrina response, and BP Oil Spill responseThe mission of the NIEHS Worker Education and Training Program, now Worker Training Program (WTP), is to prepare the disaster responders and workers to protect themselves as they protect others. These medallions were created following three of the nationally significant disaster responses that the program participated in over the last 15 years — the World Trade Center response in New York in 2001, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill response in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. They were awarded to those grantees, partners and support personnel who stepped up and made the program mission possible and successful.Chip Hughes
Lead warning sign from an old gasoline pump, an asbestos brand iron, and an early asthma inhalerOver its first 50 years, NIEHS research has often informed public health decisions, from the role of DES in birth defects, to responding to public health disasters and the human health impacts of climate change. These artifacts are three examples of the NIEHS impact on public health — the warning sign from an old gasoline pump reminds us of the benefit to children of removing lead from gasoline and paint; the asbestos brand iron the link between asbestos exposures and lung tumors; and the early asthma inhaler support the evidence for public health action on smoking and the large NIEHS portfolio of asthma studies.John Schelp
NIEHS charterOriginal NIEHS charter documents sent from the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, which outline the purpose and organization of the institute. In 1969, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare elevated the Division of Environmental Health Sciences to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, making it the 10th institute of the National Institutes of Health and establishing environmental health as a biomedical research priority.Chip Hughes
1997 NIEHS Trainees Assembly Biomedical Science Fair and 2016 19th Annual Biomedical Career Symposium program bookletsThe first NIEHS Trainees Assembly career fair was held in 1997. The event had evolved tremendously by 2016, while still remaining a focus of celebrating the very best science at NIEHS.Tammy Collins
2014 Collective Bargaining Agreement between NIEHS and AFGE Local 2923Officially signed in 2014, this collective bargaining agreement was a monumental undertaking for both NIEHS and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 2923. This agreement set conditions of employment for many NIEHS employees. Bill Jirles
U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) flagThe PHS flag recognizes and celebrates the many public health service officers who have served at NIEHS over the past 50 years.Mark Miller
NIEHS Human ToxChip v1.0The creation of microarray chips in the mid-1990s opened the door for scientists to profile the expression of thousands of genes simultaneously, increasing the ability to measure the expression of a large number of genes at a single time. The NIEHS Human ToxChip was the first microarray produced in-house and contained approximately 1,900 cDNAs of genes that were known to be toxic responsive or were considered housekeeping genes. The NIEHS Human ToxChip was a one-of-its-kind microarray that gave rise to the creation of ToxChips for other species and arrays with more content. It also led the scientific community to embrace microarrays for toxicological studies, laying the groundwork for the advent of toxicogenomics.Pierre Bushel
NIEHS embroidered t-shirt, clock, luggage tag, and pinThese items features the first official NIEHS logo, often called NIEHS man or environment man, a former and much beloved logo that was replaced in 2013.Tammy Collins and Angela Davis
Sharon Finds the Environment children's bookletWritten in the 1990s by NIEHS press director Tom Hawkins, this book represents NIEHS efforts to share the importance of environmental health with school-aged children.William Grigg
NTP CERHR monograph on BPAThe Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR) published this 2008 scientific evaluation and review on Bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical used in plastics and other products, that had been reported to cause health effects in animals and humans.Barry McIntyre
Cray XD-1 computer bladeThe Cray XD-1 computer blade is a component of the first dedicated high performance computing system installed at NIEHS. This system operated at NIEHS from 2005 and 2013. For many years, it was the only high-performance resource available to the scientific community.John Grovenstein
MicropipetteMicropipettes are used throughout NIEHS laboratories for transferring small amounts of liquid from one container to another.Cheryl Thompson
NIEHS campus photoThis iconic image of the NIEHS campus and lake, taken by photographer Steve McCaw, is highly used by many during talks at conferences.Katie Burns
NIEHS Health and Safety Manual (NIH Publication No. 79-1848)The first comprehensive NIEHS Health and Safety Manual was published in 1978. It was initiated by Christopher Hunt, Jr., the first full-time NIEHS Safety Officer.Christopher Hunt
Bioinformatics and Short Course: NGSQC and RNAsqThis Bioinformatics Short Course was presented in 2016. Illumina sequencing, discussed in this course, is a cutting edge method to evaluate transcription responses or transcription factor function and a very common tool amongst NIEHS scientists.Sylvia Hewitt
Discovery Lake Self-Guided Nature Trail guide and mapDeveloped by the NIEHS Environmental Awareness Advisory Committee, the guide describes the common plants and animals found near the nature trail that circles Discovery Lake, the lake that sits between the NIEHS and EPA campuses.Melissa Carroll
Clinical Research Unit opening programThe Clinical Research Unit (CRU) opened in 2009 and was an important step in translational research for the Clinical Research Program. Previously, NIEHS research involving humans could not be performed on the main campus. The facility is situated adjacent to the main NIEHS laboratories permitting scientists to conduct studies that involve on-site human sample collection, analysis, and functional assessment.Crystal Cannon and CRU staff
Photos of the NIEHS fitness center and fitness calendarThe expanded NIEHS fitness center opened in 2014, more than doubling the prior space. In 2016, the fitness room staff offered more than 15 classes a week free to NIEHS staff and fellows.Claire Long
Photo of NIEHS Trainees Assembly leadershipThe Trainees Assembly is the only organization at NIEHS focused solely on fostering professional development of trainees. The photo, taken in 2000, highlights NIEHS postdocs and fellows at the beginning of the millennium.Tammy Collins
NIEHS Kids' PagesIn 2016, the Kids' Pages were the most popular section of the NIEHS public website and key to the environmental health outreach NIEHS does to children, schools, and families.50th Anniversary Committee
1980 Report on CarcinogensThe Report on Carcinogens (RoC) is a congressionally mandated, science-based, public health report that identifies agents, substances, mixtures, or exposures in the environment that pose a hazard to people residing in the U.S. Prepared by the National Toxicology Program, the first RoC was produced in 1980. The 14th RoC was published in November 2016.50th Anniversary Committee
2016 Veteran's Day signed event posterOn November 9, 2016, NIEHS honored its veterans with an event featuring the founder and CEO of paws4people, an organization that breeds, trains, and places assistance dogs to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other injuries or traumas. The poster for the event was signed by the veterans present at the event.Jennifer Evans
NIEHS 30th anniversary programThe program was part of a special ceremony held October 29, 1996, to commemorate the NIEHS 30th anniversary.50th Anniversary Committee
Martin Rodbell memorial documentThe document, Memories of Marty, is a compilation of the works of Martin Rodbell, Ph.D., former NIEHS scientific director and 1994 Nobel laureate, that was created for a February 2, 1999, memorial service held in his honor. Rodbell died on December 7, 1998.50th Anniversary Committee
50th Anniversary Year in Review bookletThe booklet highlights stories on the more than 40 events held in 2016 in celebration of 50 years of NIEHS research. The stories were published in the Environmental Factor, the monthly NIEHS newsletter produced by the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison. The booklet also contains a series of Throwback Thursday photos that were sent to NIEHS employees and staff throughout the year.50th Anniversary Committee