Existing Medications Could Extend Procedure’s Protective Effects
While modern surgery is undoubtedly a life-saving modern marvel, mucking around inside the human body rarely comes without consequences. Certain life-extending procedures meant to combat heart disease, for instance, commonly cause cardiovascular complications of their own. Fortunately, a team led by IRP researchers has identified a promising approach for staving off those surgical side effects to keep patients’ hearts robust for longer.
Overactive Immune Response Sets Stage for Infection
Fungal infections are a serious medical threat to many people, especially those who are critically ill or have weakened immune systems. What’s more, outbreaks are on the rise, as studies show that rising global temperatures are causing fungi to evolve into new strains and grow in regions that were once too cold for comfort. Recent outbreaks include a tragic incident at a Michigan paper mill that sickened nearly 100 people and caused one death, as well as a cluster of fungal infections that have killed at least seven women who underwent cosmetic surgery at clinics in Mexico.
Commemorating Fungal Disease Awareness Week this week brings attention to the importance of combating fungal threats to our well-being. The theme this year is ‘Think Fungus,’ and that’s exactly what IRP senior investigator Michail Lionakis, M.D., Sc.D., has been doing for the last 20 years.
Mouse Study Could Lead to New Therapies for a Variety of Ailments
In most parts of your brain, the set of neurons you’re born with is what you’ve got for life — just like your fingers and toes, if you lose any, they’re not coming back. The body does have ways to encourage healing after a brain injury, but they are extremely constrained. However, by lending those natural systems a helping hand, IRP researchers have managed to dramatically boost regeneration and recovery of vision in mice with damage to the nerves that connect the eyes to the brain, an approach that could one day help people recover from other types of nervous system injuries as well.
IRP Researchers Discover Center for Pain Control in the Brain
While pain may be a sensation created by the brain, that doesn’t mean it’s all in your head. New research is showing how a delicate interplay between opposing types of neurons deep within the brain dials pain sensations up and down in response to injuries and other experiences.
September is Pain Awareness Month, a time to recognize that pain is a fact of life. However, while short-term pain is a critical warning system that keeps us from touching hot stoves and prompts us to visit the doctor for necessary medical care, the chronic pain experienced by nearly 100 million Americans often serves no protective purpose. To add insult to injury, this constant and often debilitating pain can evade both explanation and effective treatment.
IRP Scientists Recognized for RNA Revelations and Immune System Insights
Since its founding in 1780, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences has honored excellence in fields ranging from the humanities and arts to math, biology, and physics. In 2023, two of IRP’s eminent researchers joined the ranks of such luminaries as Benjamin Franklin and Nobel Prize winner Barbara McClintock as members of the Academy for their work in immunology and RNA science.
Annual Event Held In-Person for First Time in Four Years
A few weeks ago, NIH’s Natcher Conference Center bustled with the youthful scientific enthusiasm of IRP summer interns for the first time since 2019, the last time that the IRP’s Summer Poster Day was held in-person. At this year’s event, held on August 3 and 4, the hundreds of high school and college students who conducted research in IRP labs as part of NIH’s Summer Internship Program this year eagerly showed off the fruits of their labors — from discoveries about how weight loss drugs affect the brain to new insights into a potential treatment target for age-related vision loss. Read on to learn more about a few of these scientific upstarts and the research revelations they’ve helped uncover.
IRP Discoveries Could Enhance Recovery from Brain Injuries
Many futurists and science fiction writers dream about a time when nanobots will run around our bodies fixing any damage that occurs. Until that day comes, we’re reliant on our immune system to mop up when things go wrong, a fickle set of cells that sometimes needs a push to get going. IRP scientists recently discovered how a particular type of cell in the blood stimulates the brain’s construction crew to leap into action, potentially opening the door to treatments that boost healing in the brain.
Visiting Medical Students Look Back on IRP Research Experience
When patients are affected by complex and poorly understood medical problems, it can only be an advantage when their doctors have one foot in the exam room and another in a laboratory studying the disease. However, physicians don’t accrue scientific skills on their own. Rather, they often must venture outside of their medical education to gain experience in research via programs like NIH’s Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP).
The MRSP allows medical students from across the United States to spend a year working in IRP labs alongside seasoned scientists. The 50 medical students and one dental student selected as 2022 Medical Research Scholars recently finished their time at NIH after arriving on campus last July. Between classes, clinical rounds, study sessions, and exams, five of those young men and women found the time to describe their experience at NIH to the “I Am Intramural” blog, so read on to get a taste of what the MRSP has to offer our nation’s aspiring physicians.
IRP Research Investigates Disease’s Roots Beyond Smoking
Today is World Lung Cancer Day, bringing increased awareness to a disease most commonly associated with smoking tobacco products. Yet even though cigarette smoking rates have decreased over the past few decades, this deadly disease remains responsible for more deaths than any other type of cancer — more than 125,000 per year in the U.S. alone. In fact, between 10 and 25 percent of lung cancers occur in people who never smoked.
IRP Stadtman Investigator Jiyeon Choi, Ph.D., has always been curious about how our DNA influences the traits we have and our risk for diseases. When it comes to genes’ contribution to cancer risk, the stakes are particularly high, but Dr. Choi noticed a gap in research when it came to understanding the role genetic variation plays in lung cancer risk. She and her research team aim to fill this gap using a battery of high-tech genomic studies to root out the genes and molecular processes that make some people more susceptible to the disease.
NIH Scientist Spurred Revolution in Autoimmune Disease Therapy
IRP senior investigator John O’Shea, M.D., is a man of many talents. During his career at NIH, he has applied his creativity and drive not just to playing a variety of instruments in a rock band made up of NIH scientists, the Affordable Rock ‘n’ Roll Act (ARRA), but also to his groundbreaking research on the immune system.
This May, Dr. O’Shea, who is the Scientific Director at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for his influential research on the biochemical chain of events that kicks our immune system into gear, which has led to a better understanding of how genetic mutations interfere with the immune response, as well as the development of an entire new class of drugs that target the immune system.
This page was last updated on Friday, January 14, 2022