NIH in History: Greenhouse

Greenhouse at NIH?

Photo of exterior of greenhouse

CREDIT: OFFICE OF NIH HISTORY

Opened in 1959, Building 32A was a greenhouse used by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to investigate the biochemistry of medicinal plants. The late S. Harvey Mudd, chief of NIMH’s Section on Alkaloid Biosynthesis and Plant Metabolism, used the greenhouse to study how plants synthesize methionine. Methionine is an essential amino acid for humans and is found in meat, fish, and dairy products, as well as in some plants such as nuts, soy, and beans. A deficiency in methionine can lead to inflammation of the liver, anemia, and graying hair. Mudd also did research that led to the practice of putting folic acid into the flour supply to help prevent birth defects. The greenhouse was taken down in the early 1990s.