Hiding among YouTube’s vast collection of cooking demos and funny cat videos are clips of patients and their advocates designed to raise awareness of specific diseases. It was just such a video that led IRP Senior Investigator Peter Grayson, M.D., M.Sc., to begin studying an extremely rare illness called deficiency of adenosine deaminase 2, or DADA2 for short. The recently published findings of that research could help improve treatment not just for patients with DADA2 but also many more individuals with similar ailments.
NIH’s Natcher Conference Center was packed once again last Thursday for the annual Summer Poster Day. This year, more than 1,200 college and high school students spent their summer performing research in an IRP lab through the NIH’s Summer Internship Program.
I navigated through the more than 900 posters presented this year to get a taste of the impressive work done by these young men and women in less than three months. If they can make these kinds of discoveries in just one summer, imagine what they might one day accomplish as full-time scientists and clinicians!
Overcoming complex diseases, from viruses to cancers to mental health and beyond, requires teams of people in a variety of settings. At the NIH IRP, researchers with very different expertise and backgrounds tackle the most difficult biomedical questions by working together.
If you’re planning to engage in team science or collaborations of any sort, keep these four words in mind, as they are what newly organized team members should expect on the road to success: forming, storming, norming and performing. Each step, outlined in this blog entry with insights from two leading IRP investigators, is a phase of team development, as originally introduced in the 1960s by Bruce Tuckman (See page 46 of NIH’s Collaboration and Team Science Field Guide).
For social drinkers, alcohol brings to mind barbecues and bar-hopping with friends, but for the roughly 16 million Americans with alcohol use disorder (AUD), drinking is a source of significant stress. Unfortunately, those negative emotions — particularly those experienced during withdrawal — drive people with AUD to drink even more. A recent IRP study points to a potential way to curb the desire to drink in people who abuse alcohol by altering the behavior of a brain structure that governs negative emotions.
Our brains frequently cause us to perceive things that are not real, from high-pitched ringing in an empty room to dancing spots in our vision after staring at a bright light. Even more strangely, people with phantom limb syndrome feel sensations, including pain, in arms and legs that they no longer have. New IRP research into the brain mechanisms underlying phantom limb pain could help hone treatment for individuals living with the condition.
Each year, millions of Americans suffer sports-related concussions, and the number of youth suffering from these traumatic brain injuries has been rising. Blows to the head are common in sports such as football and hockey, and when these forces are strong enough to cause a concussion, they can harm the brain and impair cognitive functioning. Although concussions occur in staggering numbers, scientists do not fully understand what happens to the brain at the time of concussion or during the recovery period. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not trying.
What started as a friendly bet between investigators soon produced a major scientific discovery that calls into question the long-standing notion that non-human primates serve as accurate models for the way human brains function. The study, conducted by IRP investigator Bevil Conway, Ph.D., made headlines recently with reports in outlets such as NPR and U.S. News and World Report. We’re going Behind the Headlines with Dr. Conway to dive deeper into the story, understand the significance of his findings, and see where his work could lead.
Many important scientific discoveries happen when a scientist stumbles across something curious and decides to investigate further. Alexander Fleming, for example, famously discovered penicillin by examining mold that grew in one of his petri dishes while he was away on vacation. A recent IRP study spurred by a similarly unexpected observation could eventually lead to a method of preventing or reversing unhealthy amounts of fat storage in the liver.
Summer has finally arrived, and it's once again time to shine some light on NIH's rich history. Over the past couple months, NIH has celebrated several important anniversaries, including the 20th birthday of NIH's Vaccine Research Center and the 70th anniversary of the NIH Record newsletter. Read on to learn more about these milestones and other fun facts and intriguing objects from NIH's past!
First discovered in 1981, human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, caused one of the most deadly and persistent epidemics in history. HIV destroys CD4+ T cells, a type of white blood cell essential for fighting infection. In doing so, HIV destroys the body’s ability to fight off disease, which often leads to life-threatening consequences.
Today, medications have allowed people living with HIV to lead healthier lives. However, HIV still remains a major public health concern and continues to be studied by researchers within the IRP and beyond.
IRP research has produced findings essential to the development of current HIV treatments and tools for diagnosis. However, there is still a lot left to learn. One recent IRP contribution to HIV research was a 2017 study led by IRP senior investigator Paolo Lusso, M.D., Ph.D., which suggests that treatments targeting a protein called integrin α4β7 could potentially become an addition to current treatment options for those with HIV, or provide new measures to prevent infection.
Thousands of patients who need an organ transplant die each year before a donor can be found. A new IRP study has identified a safer way to prevent a transplant recipient’s body from attacking a genetically dissimilar donor organ, which could dramatically expand the pool of potential organ donors.
Along with scientists around the country and the world, the IRP community is mourning the loss of former NIH Director James B. Wyngaarden, M.D, who passed away on June 14. Dr. Wyngaarden served as the 12th NIH Director from 1982 to 1989. During that time, he guided the NIH's instrumental role in responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and initiating the Human Genome Project. He also played a key role in the creation of the NIH Children's Inn.
Expert estimates suggest that more than 5.5 million Americans may have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s, a disease currently ranked as the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Because of the condition’s growing prevalence and profound consequences for patients, understanding Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive decline is an important goal within the Intramural Research Program.
One example of the IRP’s many contributions to the field of Alzheimer’s research is a 2013 study that detected brain changes in older adults who would go on to develop cognitive impairment years before their memory began to fail. This research, led by IRP staff scientist Lori Beason-Held, Ph.D., aimed to understand who might be susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease and what factors contribute to the development of the disease before symptoms appear.
For most people, the arrival of spring time means more time spent outdoors — and greater exposure to nuisances like biting insects and poison ivy that make us itch. New IRP research has revealed a detailed picture of how a particular type of cell causes itching, findings that may ultimately help researchers develop treatments for disorders that cause severe and long-lasting itch.
Any baby born less than 37 weeks after conception is considered premature, but not all premature births have the same root cause. In a new study, IRP researchers have detailed how a particular component of the immune system can trigger premature labor, which could help doctors prevent more preterm births.
The IRP has been home to a number of truly remarkable scientists who spent decades making discoveries and developing technologies that would go on to improve the lives of many. One of these giants was Theodor Kolobow, M.D., who passed away in March of last year at age 87. During his many years at the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), Dr. Kolobow made momentous contributions to the study of our lungs and cardiovascular systems, including advancements in the development of artificial organs and key insights into the biological processes behind acute lung injury.
Dr. Kolobow's legacy lives on not only through his colleagues' fond memories and his lasting influence on medical practice, but also through the NIH's historical archives. Read on for a tour through Dr. Kolobow's life and career, as can only be told by the Office of NIH History.
Your brain cells need plenty of oxygen and nutrients to survive — that is, unless you’re a hibernating ground squirrel. By tapping into the cellular process that keeps these animals’ brains healthy during the long winter months, IRP scientists have discovered a way to increase the survival of neuron-producing stem cells implanted into the brain after a stroke, a development that could one day dramatically improve stroke treatment.
Each year on April 25, we celebrate National DNA Day, which commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 and the discovery of DNA's double helix in 1953. On this day students, teachers, and the public learn more about genetics and genomics. In honor of DNA Day this year, on April 24, the NIH IRP partnered with the NIH's National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) to host a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) with three experts on the many ways that advances in the genomic sciences are changing our lives.
Our immune cells don’t like strangers and attack many organisms and substances that they have never seen before, including harmless ones. In autoimmune diseases, this reaction gets out of hand and our own cells are caught in the crossfire. IRP scientists have found that a new therapeutic compound can curb this sort of autoimmune carnage in the eye.