One of the world's foremost biomedical research centers, with a sprawling 322-acre campus, the NIH offers tours for the public, including an orientation tour at the NIH Visitor Information Center and one at the National Library of Medicine, that will likely be quite interesting to those interested in medicine and a little dry to everyone else. The visitor center tour discusses how health and medicine has been transformed through discovery—discoveries that have kept the blood supply safe from disease and begun mapping the human genome. There are about 1,500 ongoing clinical trials at this facility at any given time, and tours will take you through the pediatric day unit, which offers a playroom for children and a program for them to connect with pediatric patients across the country via Internet. Then the tour continues to the pediatric oncology lab, where researchers are working to improve methods to help these very children. Although best known for its books and journals—there are
about 14 mi worth of them—the National Library of Medicine also houses historical medical references dating from the 11th century. A library tour includes a look at historical documents, the library's databases, and "visible human" anatomical simulator. The library was built during the Cold War, and as guides will explain, the building's roof was designed to collapse in the event of an attack from the Soviet Union, protecting the books kept below ground.
Visitor Information Center, 45 Center Dr., Bldg. 45, Bethesda, Maryland, 20892, United States