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National Museum of Health and Medicine joins Defense Health Agency

Image of Dr. Edward Curtis dislodged this lead bullet from President Abraham Lincoln’s brain during autopsy. It was fired by John Wilkes Booth with a .44 caliber Deringer pistol. . Dr. Edward Curtis dislodged this lead bullet from President Abraham Lincoln’s brain during autopsy. It was fired by John Wilkes Booth with a .44 caliber Deringer pistol.

SILVER SPRING, Maryland – From the rapid development of new technologies for the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injuries to the concept of the “Golden Hour” and other advances in battlefield medicine, the National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM) is committed to the “future, present and past” of military medicine and medical research. This week, NMHM joins the Defense Health Agency, a DoD agency driving military medicine to “provide a medically ready force and ready medical force.” 

NMHM, a DoD museum founded in 1862 as the Army Medical Museum, is now an element of the DHA’s Research, Development and Acquisitions Directorate (RDA). NMHM moved to DHA from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command headquartered at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. RDA is advancing the collaborative work across all of the military medical services as it implements best practices and improves the standards of care for beneficiaries of the military’s health care system. 

“NMHM is uniquely positioned to demonstrate and enhance the value of military medicine to the Department of Defense and the American public,” said Adrianne Noe, NMHM director. “NMHM’s staff are regularly called upon to catalyze and reinforce the lessons of military medicine from conflicts past and present. Recent questions concerning topics ranging from regenerative medicine to the effects of chemical warfare have prompted engaging discussions between researchers and museum staff managing the collections that intersect those issues, and made the museum’s collections useful to contemporary military medical researchers. Our exhibitions and education programs reinforce this message for visitors to the museum who otherwise might not be able to interact with the lessons of battlefield medicine from Gettysburg to Afghanistan, or with the pivotal role military medical research plays in saving lives in and out of the military.” 

After moving to Silver Spring, Maryland, in 2011 from the campus of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center, NMHM has continued to increase its exhibitions, education programs and collections. New acquisitions have come to NMHM from across a broad array of DoD, Army, Navy and Air Force medical agencies in areas such as regenerative medicine, infectious disease and medical evacuation. Public programs at NMHM often feature researchers, program managers and clinicians of all types who reflect on their experiences while sharing with the public valuable information about military medicine. 

In 2015, NMHM commemorated the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln with an exhibit detailing the medical response to his injury, and a series of events that highlighted the museum’s unique role during those events 150 years ago. The exhibit features the bullet that killed the president, along with other artifacts and an illustration of the room where Lincoln died composed by an Army Medical Museum illustrator. The new exhibit will be on display through the end of 2015. 

The Lincoln exhibit is part of an array of exhibits that feature the museum’s one-of-a-kind collections, featuring topics such as traumatic brain injury, military medicine during the war in Iraq, Civil War medicine, biomedical engineering, advances in military medicine, the history of the microscope and the scientific disciplines related to forensic identification. All are available daily with free admission and parking at the museum.

Transitioning the museum to DHA is part of the agency’s overall move toward full operational capability Oct. 1, 2015. NMHM joined DHA August 24, 2015, along with the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System. Learn more about NMHM.

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Last Updated: September 19, 2023
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