Psychological Stress Damages Brain’s Blood Vessels

15 hours 58 minutes ago
Mouse Study Illuminates Potential Mechanism Behind Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Millions of Americans suffered from depression and anxiety even before COVID-19 began upending their lives. To make matters worse, the stresses of living through a pandemic might not only worsen mental health but could also wreak havoc on the brain itself. New IRP research has found that psychological stress damages blood vessels in the brains of mice and dramatically alters the behavior of genes in certain blood vessel cells.

Brandon Levy

A Multi-Front Effort to Combat Coronavirus

1 week ago
IRP Research Examines Pandemic From All Angles

The sheer number of labs and wide variety of scientific perspectives in the IRP make it particularly well-suited to combating a disease like COVID-19, which is affecting patients’ health and the world around them in a huge number of ways. IRP researchers specializing in psychology, genetics, epidemiology, and many other disciplines are pursuing an array of strategies to learn more about the novel coronavirus.

Brandon Levy

IRP’s Andre Nussenzweig Elected to National Academy of Medicine

2 weeks 1 day ago
NIH Researcher Recognized for Investigation into Genomic Stability

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM), first established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences as the Institute of Medicine (IOM), is comprised of more than 2,000 elected members from around the world who provide scientific and policy guidance on important matters relating to human health. Election to the NAM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have not only made critical scientific discoveries but have also demonstrated a laudable commitment to public service.

IRP senior investigator Andre Nussenzweig, Ph.D., was one of four IRP researchers recently elected to the NAM. Dr. Nussenzweig leads the Laboratory of Genome Integrity at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), where he studies how cells repair a form of DNA damage called a double strand break (DSB). This type of insult, which severs both strands of the double-stranded DNA molecule, is one of the most dangerous. If not repaired properly, DSBs can kill cells or cause DNA to rearrange in ways that are associated with cancer. Moreover, while DSBs can be caused by chemotherapy drugs and radiation, they can also happen by random chance during the course of normal cellular processes. Intriguingly, not all parts of the DNA molecule are equally susceptible to this form of damage.

Brandon Levy

Facing Daytime Discrimination Linked to Sleep Struggles

2 weeks 6 days ago
IRP Study Examines Overlooked Contributor to Racial Health Disparities

Recent news coverage of the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, along with statistics reporting startlingly disproportionate death rates among black Americans infected with COVID-19, have made it clear that racial biases can be a matter of life and death. Meanwhile, it can be easy to overlook other, more subtle ways that discrimination can affect health, such as new IRP research that links instances of discrimination to poor sleep.

Brandon Levy

Daytime Discrimination Linked to Sleep Struggles

3 weeks ago
IRP Study Examines Overlooked Contributor to Racial Health Disparities

Recent news coverage of the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, along with statistics reporting startlingly disproportionate death rates among black Americans infected with COVID-19, have made it clear that racial biases can be a matter of life and death. Meanwhile, it can be easy to overlook other, more subtle ways that discrimination can affect health, such as new IRP research that links instances of discrimination to poor sleep.

Brandon Levy

Pandemic Brings All Hands on Deck

4 weeks 1 day ago
IRP Investigators Begin Hundreds of New Coronavirus-Related Studies

Within just a few months after COVID-19 began spreading in the United States, IRP researchers had already made numerous important contributions to the fight against the deadly virus. Scientific knowledge about the disease continues to expand at a unprecedented pace, and the IRP will continue to play a major role in this effort over the coming months and years. In fact, nearly 300 new intramural research projects related to the novel coronavirus are currently starting up or have already begun.

Brandon Levy

IRP’s Luigi Notarangelo Elected to National Academy of Medicine

1 month ago
NIH Researcher Recognized for Insights into Genetic Immune System Diseases

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM), first established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences as the Institute of Medicine (IOM), is comprised of more than 2,000 elected members from around the world who provide scientific and policy guidance on important matters relating to human health. Election to the NAM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have not only made critical scientific discoveries but have also demonstrated a laudable commitment to public service.

IRP senior investigator Luigi Notarangelo, M.D., was one of four IRP researchers recently elected to the NAM. As the head of the Immune Deficiency Genetics Section and the Laboratory of Clinical Immunology and Microbiology at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Notarangelo investigates the cellular and molecular roots of genetic conditions called primary immune deficiencies that compromise the immune system. These illnesses leave patients — many of whom are children — highly vulnerable to infections and can also lead to autoimmune problems caused when the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. Some of Dr. Notarangelo’s patients have known genetic mutations, while for others the source of their disease remains a mystery.

Brandon Levy

Dietary Supplement Powers Alzheimer’s-Afflicted Neurons

1 month 1 week ago
Mouse Study Supports Potential of Ketone-Elevating Treatment

Whether from candy, soda, or fruit, sugar is the preferred source of sustenance for many people, and also for their brains. However, in patients with Alzheimer's disease, brain cells are less capable of turning sugar into energy. New IRP research provides evidence that this problem and the cognitive symptoms it causes could be partially solved by providing the brain with an alternative fuel.

Brandon Levy

A Long Tradition of Vaccine Breakthroughs

1 month 3 weeks ago
IRP Vaccine Research Stretches Back to the NIH’s Birth

Over the past few months, the world has gained a new appreciation for the long, difficult process of producing vaccines as it waits anxiously for one that will provide protection from the novel coronavirus. With the NIH Vaccine Research Center’s efforts to develop a COVID19 vaccine drawing a huge amount of media attention, it is easy to forget that the IRP has been making vital contributions to vaccine development for more than 100 years. These efforts have helped produce vaccinations for smallpox, rubella, hepatitis A, whooping cough, human papillomavirus (HPV), and several other diseases. Read on for a visual journey through the history of IRP vaccine research. 

Michele Lyons

Gene Editing Reveals Potential Cancer Treatment Target

2 months ago
Scientists Parse Wide-Ranging Effects of Endometrial Cancer Mutation

The so-called ‘butterfly effect’ supposes that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas. While the jury is still out on insect-induced natural disasters, it is clear that a single genetic mutation can have wide-ranging and unexpected consequences throughout a cell. By examining the ripple effects caused by changes in a particular gene, IRP researchers have identified a potential treatment target for a particularly deadly variety of cancer.

Brandon Levy

Postbac Poster Day Goes Virtual

2 months 1 week ago
Hundreds of Young Researchers Present Their Work Online

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the way scientists are doing their work. Nevertheless, scientific research is a highly collaborative and interactive enterprise, so it remains essential for researchers to share and discuss their ideas and discoveries.

Every spring, the NIH’s Postbac Poster Day offers recent college graduates participating in the NIH’s Postbaccalaureate IRTA program the chance to show off the fruits of their labors and talk about their projects with both their fellow postbacs and the NIH’s many seasoned scientific veterans. Due to the need to maintain social distancing, the NIH's Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) went through considerable effort to move this year’s Postbac Poster Day to an online forum. The OITE staff's hard work paid off handsomely, with more than 870 postbacs presenting their research via WebEx on April 28, 29, and 30. Keep reading for a few examples of the fascinating scientific questions NIH’s latest crop of postbacs has been investigating.

Brandon Levy

Mouth Microbes Turn Treasonous in Gum Disease

2 months 2 weeks ago
Four Questions with Dr. Niki Moutsopoulos

Our mouths are teeming with bacteria, a microbial ecosystem known as the oral microbiome. While these microbes are typically benign, under certain circumstances they can turn harmful and contribute to oral diseases such as periodontitis, a form of chronic gum disease characterized by microbe-driven inflammation of the soft tissues and bone that support our teeth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 65 million Americans aged 30 or older have some degree of periodontitis. In its early stage, known as gingivitis, the gums become swollen and red due to inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to the presence of bacteria. If the condition worsens, it can lead to loose teeth and, eventually, bone or tooth loss.

NIH senior investigator Niki Moutsopoulos, Ph.D., head of the Oral Immunity and Inflammation Section at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), studies periodontitis and aims to understand the immune system’s role in driving this destruction. In a 2018 study, she and her team of IRP researchers and outside collaborators discovered that an abnormal and unhealthy population of microbes in the mouth causes specialized immune cells, known as T helper 17 (Th17) cells, to trigger inflammation and destroy tissue, leading to periodontitis.

Kiara Palmer

Teaching an Old Vaccine New Tricks to Thwart Tuberculosis

2 months 2 weeks ago
The IRP’s Mario Roederer and Robert Seder Discuss the Science Behind the Headlines

Some say that if something’s not broken, then don’t fix it, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. At least, those were the thoughts of IRP senior investigators Mario Roederer, Ph.D., and Robert Alan Seder, M.D., who recently found that the century-old tuberculosis (TB) vaccine is far more effective when administered via injection into a vein (IV) rather than into the skin, which has long been the standard way it is given. This major breakthrough received extensive media coverage, including a story in the New York Times. We went Behind the Headlines to get the inside scoop on this potentially life-saving discovery.

Brooke Worthing, Kiara Palmer

Statins May Guard Hearing from Deafening Cancer Chemotherapy

2 months 2 weeks ago
Mouse Study Suggests Approach to Protect Cancer Patients’ Hearing

The internet is filled with lists of ‘life hacks’ that provide instructions on how to re-purpose common items, from turning glass jars into flower vases to using sticky notes to remove dust or crumbs from the crevices of a computer keyboard. On occasion, this kind of inventive spirit can be used to improve human health as well. IRP researchers have found evidence in mice that a statin medication originally created to lower cholesterol might also reduce hearing loss caused by a common cancer therapy.

Brandon Levy

IRP’s Anthony Fauci Talks COVID-19 With Stephen Curry

2 months 2 weeks ago
Infectious Disease Expert Interviewed by NBA Superstar

As the COVID-19 illness has continued to spread, so has anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. Now more than ever, we need communicators who can provide clear explanations about the latest research and public health guidelines.

IRP senior investigator Anthony Fauci, Ph.D., has been one of the most prominent voices providing information about the novel coronavirus over the past several weeks. Dr. Fauci, who serves as director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), seems to be doing everything he can to make sure the American public has the best information available about the current situation, from speaking at White House press briefings to appearing on television shows like The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Last Thursday, March 26, Dr. Fauci participated in a live Q&A with NBA superstar Stephen Curry on Curry’s Instagram page. Read on for a few highlights from their discussion, or click on the video below to watch the entire conversation.

Brandon Levy

Cellular Self-Destruct Tied to Type 2 Diabetes

2 months 2 weeks ago
Study Suggests New Treatment Strategy for Increasingly Common Disease

In the classic sci-fi film Alien, the protagonist attempts to destroy the titular monster by triggering the self-destruct mechanism on her spaceship. Our cells also sometimes need to destroy themselves in order to circumvent threats like cancer, but uncontrolled cell death can lead to disease. New IRP research suggests that preventing certain cells in the pancreas from tripping their self-destruct switch could help relieve the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.

Brandon Levy

IRP Researchers Tackle Coronavirus Crisis

2 months 2 weeks ago
New Studies Will Help Efforts to Contain and Treat COVID-19

Most of the time, science is a slow process, with many experiments taking years to yield results. However, as endeavors like the Manhattan Project have shown, scientists can dramatically accelerate the pace of discovery when necessary. Over the past few months, the novel coronavirus pandemic has spurred a burst of research from scientists around the world, including numerous IRP studies. Read on for a round-up of the latest IRP COVID-19 research and learn how IRP investigators are assisting in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

Brandon Levy

Cellular Therapy Could Soothe Sarcoidosis

2 months 2 weeks ago
Cells From Bone Marrow Calm Damaging Immune Response

In patients with the inflammatory disease sarcoidosis, the body’s own immune cells rampage around the body like The Incredible Hulk set loose in a city, attacking both harmful pathogens and our own tissues. However, just like the Black Widow can calm The Hulk down and return him to human form in the Avengers films, cells isolated from our bone marrow may be able to change certain immune cells from a damaging state to a benign one, according to new IRP research.

Brandon Levy