This timeline was abstracted from: Hendee WR, Chien S, Maynard CD, Dean DJ. The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering: history, status, and potential impact. Radiology. 2002;222(1):12-8.

Mid 1970s:

The Conjoint Committee on Diagnostic Radiology (CCDR) was established for the purpose of representing the interests of the diagnostic imaging community to Congress, the NIH, and other federal agencies, under the leadership of Herbert Abrams, MD, of Harvard, and Russell Morgan, MD, from Johns Hopkins. Sponsors were the American College of Radiology, the Association of University Radiologists, and the Society of Chairmen of Academic Radiology Departments.


Imaging research was transferred from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), with the understanding that NCI would support both cancer and noncancer imaging.


The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) was established to represent the interests of engineering societies on public policy issues of concern to biomedical engineering.


Through the efforts of CCDR, the Intramural Laboratory of Diagnostic Radiology Research (LDRR) was established at the NIH.


In the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, Congress called for a report on the state of bioengineering research at the NIH.


CCDR helped organize the NIH-sponsored Conference on Developing a Long-Term Plan for Imaging Research.


A committee chaired by Robert Nerem, PhD, of the Georgia Institute of Technology submitted a report entitled “Support for Bioengineering Research.”

The Academy of Radiology Research (ARR), an alliance of 19 professional societies, was created to encourage the development of biomedical imaging and to establish a new institute for that purpose at the NIH. Charles Putnam, MD, served as the first president.

September 1996:

In response to requests by C. Douglas Maynard, MD, Rep Richard M. Burr (R-NC) introduced legislation (HR 4196) to establish the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging at the NIH. The legislation was not acted on.


HR 4196 was reintroduced (HR 1715); a companion bill (S 990) was introduced in the Senate by Senator Lauch Faircloth (R-NC). Both bills failed to advance.

Senator William H. Frist (R-Tenn) introduced a bill (SR 1030) to found a NIH Center for Bioengineering Research. Without the backing of the bioengineering community, the bill died in committee.

February 1997:

NIH director Harold Varmus, MD, established the Bioengineering Consortium (BECON) to focus on bioengineering issues at the NIH.


At its annual meeting, AIMBE adopted a resolution crafted by imaging scientists and biomedical engineers to establish a freestanding center or institute of biomedical engineering at the NIH, with new appropriations from Congress and grant-making authority.

Ellie Ehrenfeld, PhD, director of the NIH Center for Scientific Review, created a working group chaired by Lee Huntsman of the University of Washington to recommend ways to make the NIH peer-review process more receptive to non-hypothesis-driven research.

The Center for Scientific Review formed a committee chaired by Bruce Alberts, PhD, of the National Academy of Sciences to restructure the NIH peer-review organization into integrated review groups.


NIH established the Biomedical Information Science and Technology Initiatives Consortium (BISTIC), using BECON as a model.
Responding to Congressional directive in FY 2000 NIH Appropriations Act, NIH also began laying the groundwork for the establishment of the Office of Bioengineering, Bioimaging and Bioinformatics (OBBB).

Congressman Burr, with Representative Anna Eshoo (D-Calif), reintroduced legislation (HR 1795) for the third time, calling for the establishment of a National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Engineering at the NIH. Majority leader Trent Lott (R-Miss) introduced a companion bill (S 1110) in the Senate.

September 2000:

The ARR initiated an intense grassroots lobbying effort to build support for the institute.

HR 1795 was passed by the House of Representatives.

December, 2000:

S1110 was passed by the Senate.

President Clinton signed Public Law 106-580, on December 29, establishing The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. NIH suspended efforts to recruit a director of the OBBB.