Behind the Scenes: The Vaccine Research Center at NIH

More than a million vaccine samples are kept here at extremely cold temperatures.

The Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda is a leader in the race to develop a universal inoculation against the flu, which would make yearly vaccines unnecessary. A key component of the tightly secured VRC—founded during the Clinton administration to develop an HIV vaccine—is this basement storage room, where cells that have been exposed to multiple strains of influenza, including seasonal flu viruses and H5N1, or "bird flu," are preserved at extremely cold temperatures. The VRC also houses cells that have been exposed to experimental versions of the AIDS vaccine, which remains the center's primary focus.

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Photograph by Dan Chung.

This article appears in the January 2014 issue of The Washingtonian.

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