After nearly six years of construction, more than 2,000 scientists, technicians and support staff members at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda soon will begin moving into a $640 million clinical research center intended to advance the most promising medical studies through treatment from "bench to bedside" in pediatric and adult care.

The center, named in honor of former senator Mark O. Hatfield (R-Ore.), will have 242 inpatient beds, 80 day-hospital stations and multiple laboratories near those patient areas. Officials say its design will encourage collaboration between researchers and clinicians.

The institutes' original center opened in 1953 with the same mission: conquering disease. Since then, officials say, NIH has conducted clinical studies involving more than 250,000 people from every state in the country and many countries around the world.

The new seven-story, 870,000-square-foot building connects to the old on the north side of the NIH campus. Its ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 22, and the first patient is to be admitted Dec. 4.

The main entrance of the new National Institutes of Health Research Center, scheduled to open Sept. 22, is shown above. Below is an interior view of the center's main lobby and entrance. Clinical center director John Gallin, below left, shows one of the intensive care units during a tour. At bottom left, architect Robert J. Frasca uses an aerial photo to explain the $640 million project, meant to aid collaboration between researchers and clinicians.