Timeline: 1961-1969

The 1960s

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The report of the Task Force on Health and Social Security calls for establishing a National Institute of Child Health within the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Surgeon General Luther Terry establishes a Center for Research in Child Health in the Division of General Medical Sciences at the NIH.

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Excerpt from Public Law 87-838Public Law 87-838 authorizes establishment of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

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NACHD Council members
The first NACHHD Council meeting is held on
November 14, 1963.

Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Anthony Celebrezze approves the establishment of the NICHD, with a provision that the Center for Research in Child Health and the Center for Research in Aging (established in 1956) be transferred from the Division of General Medical Sciences to the new Institute.

Surgeon General Luther Terry, M.D., appoints members of the National Advisory Child Health and Human Development (NACHHD) Council.

The first NACHHD Council meeting is held on November 14, 1963.

Excerpt from Public Law 88-164Public Law 88-164 authorizes grants to help pay for constructing research centers on mental retardation and related disabilities.

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A major NICHD reorganization emphasizes four program areas: reproduction, growth and development, aging, and mental retardation. At the same time, significant additions are made to the intramural program with the transfer to the NICHD of the Gerontology Branch from the National Heart Institute and of the Endocrinology Branch from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Newborn screening sheetAfter NICHD research confirms the safety and effectiveness of a simple blood test to screen for and a special diet to treat phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare disease that if left untreated in newborns caused mental retardation, deafness, and seizures, New York becomes the first state to mandate screening of all newborns for PKU. Other states soon follow, allowing for early detection and immediate initiation of dietary therapy, which virtually eliminates PKU as a cause of mental retardation.

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A second reorganization of the NICHD, approved by Surgeon General William Stewart, M.D., acknowledges the Institute’s intramural research programs by separating responsibility for intramural and extramural research, and by creating seven intramural laboratories: Gerontology Research Center, Developmental Biology Branch, Social and Behavioral Sciences Branch, Reproduction Research Branch, Laboratory of Biomedical Sciences, Behavioral Biology Branch, and Children’s Diagnostic and Study Branch.

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DHEW Secretary Wilbur Cohen establishes the Center for Population Research within the NICHD. The Center is responsible for population and reproduction research and is designated as the federal agency primarily responsible for population research and research training.

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VirusDr. Alfred Hershey—supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the NCI, and the NICHD—wins the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Dr. Max Delbrück and Dr. Salvador Luria, for their discoveries concerning the replication and genetic structure of viruses.

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