Discovery Documentary "First in Human" will feature the NIH Clinical Center

Caitlin Grzeskowiak

The “House of Hope,” also known as Building 10, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, offers patients with limited treatment options the opportunity to participate in experimental clinical trials. The Discovery Channel has filmed an in-depth look into how medical discovery takes place at the Center. With the consent of thousands of staff members and patients, the resulting documentary First in Human, narrated by actor Jim Parsons, will air in a three-part series August 10, 17, and 24 at 9:00PM ET/PT on Discovery.

This unprecedented access to ongoing research invites the public to learn more about the clinical trial experience. In a recent survey commissioned by Research!America, 74% of Americans say their doctors have not discussed medical research with them, yet a strong majority (81%) say they would participate in a clinical trial if asked by a health care professional. For Bo Cooper, a leukemia patient featured in the documentary, undergoing an experimental treatment in which his own immune cells were extracted and reprogrammed to fight his cancer provides him the chance to not only improve his own health, but to advance the science and treatment possibilities for future patients.

As the nation’s largest dedicated clinical research hospital, clinical trials at the NIH Clinical Center have played an important role advancing experimental medicine over the last 60 years. Research aimed at identifying biomarkers for cardiovascular disease, and improving immune therapy treatments for patients like Mr. Cooper are largely credited to the NIH Clinical Center, which has treated over half a million patients. 

“I am delighted that Discovery’s series will educate the public on the bravery of our volunteer patients who are our partners in scientific discovery,” Dr. Francis Collins, director of NIH, said in a press release. “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.’”

For more information on NIH, the documentary series, how to participate in a clinical trial or work or train at the NIH Clinical Center, visit

Caitlin Grzeskowiak is a Research!America Communications Intern.

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