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Vol. LVII, No. 19
September 23, 2005

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Visitor Center Welcomes Guests to NIH

Dr. Han Fan, a cancer pathologist visiting from China, tours NIH from Natcher to the CRC with seasoned guide Carol Jabir of the Visitor Information Center.
An old Chinese proverb states, "What I hear, I forget; what I see, I remember; what I do, I understand." The same wisdom can be applied to those who visit NIH, wanting to know how it works. Each workday, newcomers who want to grasp the immensity of what NIH is about mingle largely unnoticed amid the workforce. Helping them is the Visitor Information Center (VIC), a place for the wide range of visitors that includes scientists, congressional aides, patient advocates, lawyers and knowledge-seekers of all ages.

Part of the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, OD, the VIC is where visitors find face-to-face communication and the human connection to NIH.

The VIC benefited from relocating in 2003 from the B1 level of Bldg. 10 to a more prominent setting on the first floor of the Natcher Bldg., whose ambient light and convenience to the Metro station attract visitors.

A shelf located just inside the main Natcher entrance features a wide selection of publications by the 27 institutes and centers that comprise NIH. An organizational chart of the agency helps orient guests. VIC staff also prepare information packets by request and can refer visitors to other sources of information.

Entering the VIC's community area, visitors stroll beneath a display of historical flags that tell the story of NIH's origins and the organizations under which it has served. Across the room is an exhibit featuring the Nobel laureates NIH has supported over the years.

Visitors often want to know if there are daily tours and how they can be arranged. If it happens to be Wednesday, there is an 11 a.m. tour of the Clinical Research Center that includes an overview of NIH. The overview is also offered at 11 a.m. each Monday and Friday at the VIC. Other tours are available by appointment and generally run 2 hours.

Dr. Helena Mishoe (c), director of NHLBI’s Office of Minority Health Affairs, introduces NIH to visitors from Tougaloo College at the VIC.

Among NIH's recent guests were members of Girls Explorations in Mathematics and Science, a program sponsored by Delaware State University that included 27 students ranging from grades 9 through 11. The program encourages women and minorities to consider careers in science. Often, NIH scientists will come to the VIC to give presentations to such groups. On other occasions, the visitors will go to the labs to hear presentations.

Other recent visitors included the summer biomedical science institute of Georgetown University, whose students are mainly minorities; a group of doctors from Andrews Air Force Base who toured the Porter Neuroscience Center; and a group of engineering students who visited NIH's new cogeneration power plant in Bldg. 11A.

To arrange a VIC visit, call (301) 496-1776.

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