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You’ll Want to See This! “First in Human” Debuts August 10

Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins

For over 60 years, the NIH Clinical Center—the world’s largest hospital dedicated to clinical research—has been at the forefront of developing treatments for our most deadly and damaging diseases. It’s here at our “House of Hope” in Bethesda, MD, where, among many other medical firsts, chemotherapy was first used to treat cancerous tumors, gene therapy underwent its first human tests, surgeons first successfully replaced the heart’s mitral valve, and the first anti-viral drug for HIV/AIDS met with early success.

Now, in a Discovery Channel documentary called First in Human, millions of people all around the globe will get a chance to see the doctors, nurses, and other staff of NIH’s remarkable research hospital in action. Narrated by Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons, the three-part series debuts at 9 p.m.-11 p.m., ET, Thursday, August 10. The second and third segments will air at the same time on August 17 and 24. For a sneak peak, check out the video clip above!

Filmed in the Clinical Center between September 2015 and June 2016, First in Human follows four seriously ill patients—two with cancer and two with rare, inherited diseases—as they take part in clinical trials of experimental therapies. By volunteering for such research with no guarantee that they themselves would benefit, these four brave individuals helped to build the foundation for tomorrow’s breakthroughs. When you consider all of the medical “firsts” made possible by clinical research, it’s clear that we owe an enormous debt of gratitude not only to these patients, but to everyone who participates in clinical studies at the Clinical Center and across the nation.

To produce this extraordinary documentary, Discovery camera crews recorded over 1,000 hours of footage and received consent to film over 1,000 staff members at the Clinical Center. I want to personally thank all of the Clinical Center staff, as well as the patients and their loved ones, who agreed to share their stories with the viewing public. I know it wasn’t always easy, and not every story has a happy ending, but the result stands as a moving testament to why so many people have come to call the National Institutes of Health the “National Institutes of Hope.”


Discovery Documentary First in Human (NIH)

First in Human: Discovery Documentary on the NIH Clinical Center (NIH Clinical Center)

NIH Clinical Research Trials and You

NIH Clinical Center

Frequently Asked Questions (NIH Clinical Center)

Timeline of Clinical Center, The NIH Almanac






  • Saeed U. Din says:

    Yes, you are a great organization or outfit.

  • Saeed U. Din says:

    Great people appreciate great ones.

  • Madeleine Hemmings says:

    Wonderful to show the world what you do. Some of the proudest time in my life was
    the year I worked at the National Cancer Institute – extra ordinary people trying to do
    even more extra ordinary things!

  • Pooja Chavan says:

    great work done..!

  • Tammy Carroll says:

    So excited to watch this and share a more in person view of how amazing NIH and the people are like with our loved ones.

  • IKstore says:

    Great post, i am very excited.

  • Roy says:

    This is a great write up… Thanks to the author for sharing this one…

  • K. Kleppe Lembo says:

    Dr. Collins,

    When visiting my brother in May my husband and I essentially “stumbled upon” your pre-commencement talk at SMU. Your talk was captivating, and I was blown away learning about all the happenings at NIH.

    Tonight – watching Part I of “First in Human” I was in awe, observing the work of countless NIH dedicated personnel. I was also able to feel, through this film, the faith, hope and trust placed in you all by the courageous women and men agreeing to these clinical trials.

    Thank you – all – for your compassion, dedication and caring hearts, minds, and spirits. I am a better person having spent two hours in front of the Discovery Channel (ok – aside from the commercials!).

  • mike says:

    oh my…i hope you all be blessed and all the patients could be heal and have along happy living.God bless you all…

  • B. Lorn says:

    thank you very much for the information you have provided is very useful…

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