Discovery Communications documentary series features NIH clinical research patients and staff

Discovery previewed a documentary television series “First in Human”. The programs explore the interface of innovative life science research, clinical care, ethics, and human drama which occurs daily at the National Institutes of Health Building 10. The preview was held on the evening of May 2 at the Reagan Building in Washington and attended by many NIH Clinical Center staff together with some patients and family members whose lives were the subject of the documentary. Members of Congress, Congressional staff, and media filled to amphitheater to capacity.

After an explanation of the multi-year documentary project by Emmy-award winning producer and director John Hoffman, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins rejoiced that Congress rejected President Trump’s proposed 20% budget cut and instead support a $2 billion increase in this year’s NIH budget. The chairs of both the House and Senate appropriations committees (Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole and Missouri Senator Roy Blunt --both Republican) spoke briefly about bipartisan support for the goal of NIH to provide 21st Century Cures. It is the first time in decades of attending Washington events that I have ever heard an audience applaud the Congress!

Sections of the first episode of the series were shown, followed by a panel discussion with several of the physician-scientists and family members of the research patients moderated by Dr. John LaPook, CBS chief medical correspondent. It was an extraordinarily moving experience for me, having served as a research medical officer at NIH for over 30 years. “First in Human” is narrated by Emmy Award winning actor Jim Parsons and currently scheduled for Discovery Channel in August.

Charles Sneiderman, MD, PhD, Health and Science Reporter for Connie Lawn’s AudioVideo News

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