Four photographs hang in the office of Claude Lenfant, MD, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), each one capturing a different corner of the world—a walrus and seal from the north and south polar regions, and a sloth and monkey from the equator. They also capture, in a symbolic way, the widespread nature, yet intimate relation, of the disorders addressed by the institute.
The NHLBI is not the only agency of the NIH to deal with a cluster of disorders, Lenfant notes, adding: "But I think this one [NHLBI] is unique in the sense that there is a very intimate relationship between the cardiovascular, the respiratory, and the blood systems. And the fact that all three [programs] are under the same roof, I think, is a considerable asset to our own scientific endeavors and pursuits."
The NHLBI until recently had three divisions: Heart and Blood Vessel Diseases, Lung Diseases, and Blood Diseases and Resources. A fourth, the Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications, has been created in an effort to consolidate already existing population-based research.