Budding Scientists Showcase Research at Annual Event
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Any scientist who wants to make game-changing discoveries has to start somewhere — even Albert Einstein worked in a patent office before landing his first job in academia. Through its Postbaccalaureate IRTA program, NIH hopes to give aspiring scientists more of a leg up than Einstein had by bringing them into IRP labs after they complete their undergraduate studies.
On April 26, 27, and 28, more than 900 recent college graduates participating in the program presented at this year’s virtual Postbac Poster Days. Read on to learn about a few of these young researchers and their contributions to the groundbreaking work being done at NIH.
Women Scientists Advisors Select Three Young Researchers for Recognition
Thursday, May 19, 2022
While women have now overtaken men in terms of admission and enrollment in undergraduate education, they remain underrepresented in the sciences. This includes at NIH, where 74 percent of senior investigators and 54 percent of tenure-track investigators are male, according to the most recent statistics available. Consequently, NIH is putting considerable effort into supporting women scientists at all stages of their careers.
One NIH entity dedicated to this important work is the NIH Women Scientists Advisors (WSA), a group of women elected to represent the interests of women scientists in the IRP. Among its many initiatives, each year the WSA chooses several female postdoctoral fellows or graduate students in the IRP to receive the WSA Scholar Award in recognition of their outstanding scientific achievements. The awardees present their research at the annual WSA Scholars Symposium, which this year was held on April 25 and recognized young women leading efforts to better understand how disease-related genes evolved, an investigation of how a fatty liver can give rise to liver cancer, and the evaluation of a way to deliver gene therapy for a rare genetic disease. Read on to learn more about this year’s WSA Scholars and the impressive discoveries they have made during their time in the IRP.
Study Identifies Compounds That Could Aid Body’s Removal of Toxic Cancer Drugs
Tuesday, May 17, 2022
When it comes to cancer, the treatment can sometimes feel worse than the disease. Not only do chemotherapy drugs cause grueling side effects, but certain products made by otherwise benign bacteria living in our digestive system can interfere with the body’s ability to get rid of those toxic chemicals. A new IRP study used a cutting-edge computational approach to help identify compounds that inhibit one of those meddling bacterial molecules, which could eventually lead to the creation of medications that reduce some of chemotherapy’s side effects.
Dedicated Staff and Cutting-Edge Technology Helps Solve Pain’s Many Mysteries
Thursday, May 5, 2022
For such a common ailment, pain remains a significant mystery. Part of the challenge of studying it is that it occurs in so many conditions and can vary from a mild ache to life-altering misery. Fortunately for both pain patients and IRP researchers studying pain, the NIH Pain Research Center has the technology and expertise to power new discoveries about pain in its many, complex forms.
On March 31 and April 1, NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) hosted a two-day virtual symposium titled “Tackling Pain at the National Institutes of Health: Updates From the Bench, the Clinic, and the New NIH Pain Research Center,” which featured presentations from a number of IRP scientists exploring important questions related to pain. Read on to learn more about some of the research discussed during that event, including efforts examining pain in patients with rare diseases, early-phase clinical trials of a new pain treatment, and investigations of how psychological factors can affect the way people experience pain.
NIH Pain Research Center Shines Light on a Common and Complex Ailment
Monday, April 25, 2022
At one time or another, practically everyone has had a headache, stubbed their toe, or scorched their mouth on a hot slice of pizza, making pain one of the few experiences that essentially all people share. Despite its everyday nature, however, pain remains extremely mysterious. Even more enigmatic is chronic pain, which may not even stem from a clearly defined source yet affects more than a fifth of American adults.
Given the near-universality of pain and its huge social and economic burden, it’s no surprise that many researchers at NIH study it. Yet, prior to 2019, there was no central, shared entity in the NIH’s Intramural Research Program that united the many scientists performing this important work. That was the year NIH’s Pain Research Center was established, with the help of funding from the NIH Director’s Challenge Innovation Awards.
Prediction Method Could Help Prevent Age-Related Physical Decline
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
Throughout human history, people have sought insight into their fates from self-proclaimed psychics and other dubious fortune tellers. Fortunately, scientists are increasingly developing more reliable, data-driven ways to predict the future. For instance, IRP researchers recently showed that an assessment of the cellular batteries that power our muscles can predict the deterioration of physical abilities in older adults.
Pushing Cells to Their Limits Could Enable Earlier Diagnosis and Treatment
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
If the many stories of mothers lifting cars to save their trapped children prove anything, it’s that we cannot know the true capabilities of our bodies until they are put to the test. This concept, it turns out, could be the key to much earlier diagnosis for Parkinson’s disease. By stimulating specific neurons to push them to their limits, IRP researchers were able to detect Parkinson’s in mice in its very early stages, opening up the possibility that a similar test could one day allow human patients to begin treatment before the disease has caused too much damage.
IRP’s Ph.D. and Medical Students Present Research at Virtual Event
Thursday, March 10, 2022
The IRP isn’t concerned only with discovering the secrets of how our bodies work and developing new therapies to treat disease. Senior scientists and many other employees at NIH also are actively involved in training the next generation of researchers. One place where the benefits of those efforts is strikingly clear is at NIH’s annual Graduate Student Research Symposium, where graduate students performing research in NIH labs show of the fruits of their partnerships with IRP researchers.
On February 16 and 17, more than 100 of the IRP’s graduate students presented their work virtually at the 18th edition of the event. These young scientists discussed the results of studies on a huge range of topics, from how hunger changes during pregnancy to how viruses cause cancer. Read on to learn about a small sampling of the projects they’ve been hard at work on.
Mouse Study Suggests Treatment Strategy Could Benefit Patients with Obesity
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
It’s bad enough that the excess abdominal fat carried by most individuals with obesity causes widespread inflammation throughout their bodies. To add insult to injury, that inflammation actually makes it harder to use up overloaded fat stores. However, a new IRP mouse study supports a two-pronged pharmaceutical approach that could break this vicious cycle and help improve the health of people with obesity.
Many NIH Labs Remain Focused on COVID Research
Monday, February 14, 2022
Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, IRP researchers have been hard at work learning about the virus and developing ways to prevent and treat infections. That research remains as important as ever, particularly as the new Omicron variant of the virus continues to spread rapidly.
Fortunately, NIH’s Intramural Targeted Anti-COVID-19 Program (ITAC) has been providing IRP scientists with millions of dollars to support their research on the pandemic virus, known as SARS-CoV-2. Last week, the “I Am Intramural” blog discussed ITAC-funded efforts to learn about the biology of the virus and how it affects the body. This week, we’ll look at IRP projects focused on ways to track, treat, and prevent infections.