The article seeks to analyze the importance of the former headquarters of the Board of Public Health – DGSP (Diretoria Geral de Saúde Pública), in implementing and institutionalizing Brazilian public health policies, and the importance for Brazil of its restoration and reuse as the Centro de Difusão Científica [Scientific Education and Research Centre]. Constructed (1905-1914) at the initiative of Oswaldo Cruz and designed by the Portuguese architect Luiz Moraes Júnior, the following aspects of the old headquarters of the DGSP are examined: the original site; economic and technical means used in construction; the reasoning, programmes and purpose behind its use; economic, physical and conceptual limits and conditions of space; the creators, their ideas and programmes; the architects, their training, works and methods; the buildings and their environmental surroundings throughout the 20th century; with the City of Rio de Janeiro. The article also analyses the various proposed interventions: structural reinforcement, modernization of the installations, recovery of the construction materials and systems, as well as historic and architectural values; the original forms, volumes and spaces of the buildings. The current initiative taken by the Instituto Nacional do Câncer - Inca- of the Health Ministry, current owner of the property, recovers and preserves a reference point for the origin, evolution and institutionalization of Brazilian public health policies. A modern scientific education and research centre for researchers, health professionals, doctors and residents, as well as the general public, is to be installed in the buildings.