IRP’s Mary Carrington Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for Insights Into Immune System Variations
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Some people never seem to get sick, while others catch a new bug of some sort every other week. Humans are immensely variable both in their capacity to shrug off illness and in the ways their bodies respond to medical treatments. IRP senior investigator Mary Carrington, Ph.D., has spent her entire career exploring the biological roots of these differences, and the discoveries she has made earned her election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences earlier this year.
Genetically Modified Insects Could Help Curb Infections
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
“Scientists create genetically modified mosquitos” sounds like the plot of a bad sci-fi movie, but it’s actually the reality in labs all around the world. Researchers are producing these ‘transgenic’ mosquitos in the hopes that the bugs could help combat the scourge of malaria, and in a recent study, IRP scientists demonstrated that their unique strategy in this realm has strong potential to accomplish that goal.
Government Awards Recognize H. Clifford Lane’s Four Decades of Research Achievements
Wednesday, July 27, 2022
The remarkable career of H. Clifford Lane, M.D., might have gone very differently if a NIH scientist hadn’t accidentally eavesdropped on Dr. Lane’s conversation with a colleague in 1979. After hearing Dr. Lane mention that he had missed the deadline to apply for a position at NIH, the NIH researcher made some calls and discovered a spot there had just opened up — one that was perfect for Dr. Lane, who would spend the ensuing decades conducting life-saving research to understand and combat some of the world’s most dangerous infectious diseases.
Now the Clinical Director at the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), Dr. Lane has been named a finalist for the 2022 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals’ Career Achievement Award in recognition of his crucial contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS, Ebola, COVID-19, and other illnesses. Also known as the “Sammies,” the awards recognize federal employees who are “breaking down barriers, overcoming huge challenges, and getting results.”
IRP Study Could Help Explain Racial Disparities in Disease Outcomes
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
Even as advances in therapy are extending the lives of many cancer patients, there are still stark differences in how likely patients of different races and ethnicities are to die from the disease. A recent IRP study suggests that a weaker immune response against cancer could explain the worse clinical outcomes for Black men with prostate cancer, pointing to potential strategies that could help close this gap.
IRP Researchers Engage and Educate at Competition Finals
Wednesday, July 13, 2022
English is generally considered the ‘international language of science,’ since nearly all scientific papers are published in English. Yet, even to a native English speaker, scientists seem to be using another language entirely to talk about their research. Most Americans, after all, don’t know an ‘autophagosome’ from a ‘lysosome’ and would be hard-pressed to explain the difference between an ‘oocyst’ and a ’sporozoite.’
Fortunately, efforts like NIH’s annual Three-Minute Talks (TmT) competition are helping scientists learn how to communicate about their research in a manner that is much easier to understand. On June 30, after months spent whittling down dozens of competitors from across the IRP, 10 finalists raced against the clock to explain their work and its importance in a clear and compelling way.
Study Reveals Medications Associated With Lower Odds of Severe Infection
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
Many researchers studying COVID-19 have spent the past two years poring over test tubes and isolated cells. However, large troves of data about people’s interactions with the healthcare system can also be a rich source of useful insights. Using one such database, IRP researchers found that older adults taking certain medications were less likely to catch COVID or experience severe repercussions from the virus.
Dr. Stefan Barisic Turns Laboratory Discoveries into Kidney Cancer Treatments
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
The Laboratory of Transplantation Immunotherapy sits at the heart of the NIH Clinical Center, just down the hallway from the Southeast inpatient unit. Here, IRP postdoctoral research fellow Stefan Barisic, M.D., labors at the bench with the goal of creating practical treatments for kidney cancer patients. Having such proximity to his patients was one of the chief attractions of working at NIH for Dr. Barisic.
“The NIH Clinical Center is an amazing place because it has all the resources you need to go from the bench to the bedside and back to the bench all in one building,” says Dr. Barisic.
Drug Candidate Could Slow Progression and Reduce Side Effects
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
If you know someone with Parkinson’s disease, you’re probably familiar with the progressive tremors and movement difficulties it causes. Unfortunately, the most common treatment for the disease — a drug called levodopa, or L-DOPA for short — can make some movement problems worse when taken for long periods of time. That’s why IRP senior investigator David R. Sibley, Ph.D., and postdoctoral fellow Amy Moritz, Ph.D., have taken on the challenge of discovering new drugs that could be given to patients in conjunction with existing treatments to more effectively slow the disease’s progression while reducing side effects.
Mouse Study Points to Approach for Preventing Diabetes-Related Heart Failure
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
Our cells love to lap up sugar from our blood, but as is often the case, too much of a good thing can cause problems. In people with diabetes, chronically high blood sugar can harm organs, including the heart. In an effort to combat this life-threatening problem, IRP researchers demonstrated in mice that activating a specific biological pathway in heart cells can reduce diabetes’ damaging effects on the vital organ.
IRP Researchers Develop Drug to Recapture Immune Cells Hijacked by Tumors
Friday, June 3, 2022
In the 1958 cult classic The Blob, a giant gelatinous creature from outer space lands on Earth and begins engulfing a small town and everything in it. While that may sound far out, a similar entity within our bodies does much the same thing, but for good instead of ill. These Pac-Man-like blobs are called macrophages — Greek for ‘big eaters’ — and they serve a vital role in keeping us healthy by clearing away dead cells and digesting foreign invaders like bacteria and cancer cells.
However, cancer cells aren’t content to just let themselves be eaten. They have evolved ways to overwhelm and commandeer the immune system, redirecting immune cells to support tumor growth rather than suppress it. Although highly personalized ‘immunotherapies’ that reboot the immune response and harness it to fight cancer have made significant advances in treating some forms of the disease, most cancers do not respond to these treatments. Fortunately, reinforcements are on the way: IRP senior investigators Udo Rudloff, M.D., Ph.D., and Juan Marugan, Ph.D., have identified a way to reclaim the loyalty of macrophages that are aiding and abetting tumors, turning them back into the cancer-consuming gluttons they were meant to be. Importantly, this approach may be effective on a broader array of cancers than other immunotherapies.