Modified Hormone Protects Damaged Hearts

2 weeks 4 days ago
Alteration Helps Prospective Drug Persist Longer in Rodents’ Bodies

Even the best construction crew cannot repair a building if it is called away from the site before it can begin its work. Similarly, while the body’s ability to cleanse itself of chemicals can prevent the buildup of toxins, it can also stymie the therapeutic effects of medications. IRP researchers recently found that modifying a prospective treatment for heart failure to help it persist longer in the body boosted its beneficial effects in mice.

Brandon Levy

Remembrances: Phil Leder (1934-2020)

2 weeks 4 days ago

Our friend and former colleague Phil Leder, among the world's most accomplished molecular geneticists, died on Sunday, February 2, at age 85. His work with Marshall Nirenberg — namely, the famed Nirenberg and Leder experiments starting at the NIH in 1964, which definitively elucidated the triplet nature of the genetic code and culminated in its full deciphering — helped set the stage for the revolution in molecular genetic research that Phil himself would continue to lead for the next three decades.

Michael Gottesman

Cancer Therapy May Drain Cellular Batteries

2 weeks 4 days ago
Decreased Energy Production Could Contribute to Cancer-Related Fatigue

We all know the feeling of being wiped out after a hard workout or a grueling day at the office — you just want to flop down on the couch and not move, or even think. For many cancer patients, the treatment for their disease can trigger that sort of physical and mental exhaustion for weeks or months. New IRP research has found evidence linking this phenomenon, known as cancer-related fatigue, to a slow-down in cells’ energy-producing mitochondria.

Brandon Levy

Research Symposium Celebrates Graduate Student Science

2 weeks 4 days ago
Event Spotlights Students Completing Their Ph.D. Research in IRP Labs

The NIH provides an extraordinarily rich environment for learning and honing the skills needed to pursue a scientific career. It’s no wonder, then, that Ph.D. students from institutions all across the United States and the rest of the world come here to conduct their dissertation research under the mentorship of the IRP’s many renowned investigators.

Nearly 150 of those students presented the fruits of their scientific work at the NIH’s 16th annual Graduate Student Research Symposium on Thursday, February 20. The insights they have produced on topics from cancer to autoimmune disease to environmental contaminants were supremely impressive and will likely contribute to important improvements in medical care in the future. For anyone who missed this exciting event, read on to learn about a few of the many research projects that were on display.

Brandon Levy

IRP Clinical Trials Provide Irreplaceable Hope

2 weeks 4 days ago
Volunteering for Studies Allows Me to Help Myself and Others

Watching my dad carry the luggage to the car has become an all-too-familiar sight. It’s time for my mom and me to head to the NIH again, another trip in a lifelong journey for answers. I give my dad a long hug goodbye, and then I watch him stand alone in the driveway as we back away. The gravel arduously aches and crunches under our tires, a sound as uncomfortable as my symptoms even on my good days — few as there are.

Noah Victoria

IRP’s Michael Lenardo Elected to National Academy of Sciences

2 weeks 4 days ago
NIH Researcher Recognized for Enhancing the Molecular Understanding of Immune Responses

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS), established in 1863, is comprised of the United States’ most distinguished scientific scholars, including nearly 500 Nobel Prize winners. Members of the NAS are elected by their peers and entrusted with the responsibility of providing independent, objective advice on national matters related to science and technology in an effort to advance innovations in the United States.

IRP senior investigator Michael Lenardo, M.D., is one of four IRP researchers elected to the NAS over the past two years. At the NIH, Dr. Lenardo serves as Chief of the Molecular Development of the Immune System Section at the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), where he studies how the cells in the immune system mount protective responses to various pathogens, including viruses and bacteria. A major focus of Dr. Lenardo’s work is the investigation of genetic abnormalities in the immune system, which have the potential to cause life-threatening diseases.

Brooke Worthing

Scientists Pinpoint Traitorous Immune Cells in Lupus

2 weeks 4 days ago
Narrower Research Focus Could Aid Treatment for Autoimmune Diseases

Police pursuing a dangerous criminal rely on witness descriptions of the suspect’s specific traits — height, weight, hair color, tattoos — to pick out the perpetrator from a vast population of mostly innocent individuals. Scientists can likewise distinguish between highly similar cell types using cutting-edge laboratory procedures. Using such techniques, IRP researchers have identified a particular variety of cell in a specific stage of its life cycle as a primary culprit behind the autoimmune disease known as lupus.

Brandon Levy

Neuron-Killing Protein Exploits a Vulnerability in Mitochondrial Armor

1 month 4 weeks ago
Study Shows How Molecular Trespasser Gains Entry into Cells’ Energy Producers

As a fan of the long-running animated sitcom The Simpsons, I’ve witnessed the bumbling Homer Simpson cause several near-meltdowns at the nuclear power plant where he works. Serious problems can arise at such facilities when the wrong person gains access to them, and the same applies to the energy-producing mitochondria that power our cells. A new IRP study has revealed how a protein known to harm neurons gains entry into mitochondria in order to wreak cell-killing havoc.

Brandon Levy

Extreme Obesity Shaves Years Off Life Expectancy

1 month 4 weeks ago
Four Questions with Dr. Cari Kitahara

As happens with every new year, many people around the world woke up on January 1 committed to improving their health through eating well and exercising. These lifestyle changes have the potential to significantly improve the well-being of the 32 percent of American adults who are overweight and the 40 percent who are obese. Due to the staggering number of individuals struggling with obesity, as well as its serious health consequences, the condition has long been a main priority for researchers at the NIH. As a result of this focus, investigators have made significant strides in identifying biological signals that trigger hunger, understanding genetic influences that play a role in weight gain, and uncovering environmental and behavioral factors that influence obesity.

Brooke Worthing

Neuron-Killing Protein Exploits a Chink in Mitochondrial Armor

2 months 1 week ago
Study Shows How Molecular Trespasser Gains Entry into Cells’ Energy Producers

As a fan of the long-running animated sitcom The Simpsons, I’ve witnessed the bumbling Homer Simpson cause several near-meltdowns at the nuclear power plant where he works. Serious problems can arise at such facilities when the wrong person gains access to them, and the same applies to the energy-producing mitochondria that power our cells. A new IRP study has revealed how a protein known to harm neurons gains entry into mitochondria in order to wreak cell-killing havoc.

Brandon Levy

Mothers’ Smoking Leaves Unique Marks on Infants’ DNA

2 months 1 week ago
Smoking While Pregnant Affects a Woman’s Genes Differently From Her Baby’s

Decades of public health campaigns have made the health consequences of smoking common knowledge. However, for the few women who smoke while pregnant, the habit can affect not only their own bodies but also those of their unborn children. Intriguingly, according to a new study led by IRP researchers, so-called ‘epigenetic’ changes to DNA that can alter the behavior of genes differ significantly in smoking mothers compared to their babies, suggesting that maternal smoking may have unique, long-lasting effects on the way a child’s body functions.

Brandon Levy

A Country-Spanning Cancer Collaboration

3 months 1 week ago
Scientific Team-Up Identifies Source of Tumor Drug Resistance

It’s an unfortunate reality that nearly everyone knows somebody whose life has been affected by cancer. However, a discovery by two researchers who met by chance years ago might one day help more cancer patients overcome their disease. Two scientific teams led by the IRP’s Craig Thomas, Ph.D., a group leader at the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), and Daniel Starczynowski, Ph.D., of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, recently published a study describing a possible breakthrough in the fight against acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a form of cancer responsible for nearly 11,000 deaths per year in the United States.

Brooke Worthing

New Treatment Creates Unwelcome Environment for Breast Cancer

3 months 2 weeks ago
Modifying Tumor’s Surroundings Stymies Cancer’s Expansion

If you ever tried planting an apple tree in the desert or growing avocados in New England, you would quickly figure out that such plants need a particular environment in order to thrive. Cancerous tumors are no different, and IRP researchers recently found strong evidence that a molecule naturally produced in the body can suppress the growth and spread of a particularly lethal form of breast cancer via both direct effects on the cancer and by altering its surroundings.

Brandon Levy

Newest Lasker Scholars Ready to Make Their Mark

3 months 3 weeks ago
Exceptional Early-Stage Investigators Push the Boundaries of Translational Research

Online and print publications are constantly touting momentous discoveries by superstar scientists like CRISPR-Cas9 co-discover Jennifer Doudna or the IRP’s own Kevin Hall, who changed the way we think about weight loss. It can be easy to forget that today’s biomedical pioneers were once young researchers toiling to establish themselves in the competitive environment of modern science.

Each year, a small, exceptionally promising group of scientific up-and-comers become Lasker Clinical Research Scholars through a highly competitive program jointly funded by the NIH and the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation. The program presents early-stage physician-scientists with the opportunity to carry out independent clinical research at the NIH for five to ten years. The 2019 class of Lasker Scholars consists of five extremely talented researchers who are now beginning a critical new phase in their careers. Let’s meet them.

Brandon Levy

The Social Side of Health

3 months 3 weeks ago
Understanding Social and Behavioral Research in the IRP

The NIH IRP is world-renowned for its high-risk, high-reward biomedical research. While the NIH may be best known for its clinical and biomedical research on topics from cancer to allergies to addiction, IRP investigators have also produced a rich body of work conducted in the area of social and behavioral research (SBR). In this post, I will describe how SBR furthers the NIH’s goals of improving human health with some examples of the excellent work done by SBR investigators in the IRP.

Christopher Marcum

Three-Armed Antibody Could Offer Defense Against AIDS

3 months 4 weeks ago
Four Questions with Dr. John Mascola

The disease known as human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, attacks and destroys cells vital to the immune system. This leaves the millions of people living with HIV less able to fight other infections and can lead to an extremely severe form of immune system deficiency called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which was responsible for nearly 770,000 deaths in 2018 alone. As of 2019, there are approximately 37.9 million people around the world living with HIV/AIDS.

Although HIV/AIDS has been recognized as a serious public health crisis, finding effective treatments, or a vaccine to prevent infection in the first place, is not a simple task. The HIV virus has many different types and strains — similar to the flu — which makes developing vaccines and treatments extremely challenging, as the virus is constantly changing. At the NIH, there are a number of ongoing collaborative research projects aimed at providing new options for those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and those at risk for contracting the virus in the future.  

Brooke Worthing