Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Researchers have a long history of fattening up mice to gain insight into the causes and consequences of weight gain in the human body. In one of the more recent studies of this kind, a team of IRP researchers found that that a high-fat diet consistently altered the collection of microbes residing in mice’s digestive tracts and that this diet-microbe combination might pre-dispose the mice – and, potentially, obese humans – to colon cancer by triggering certain changes in how genes behave.
Friday, February 9, 2018
At the start of his third term in 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s blood pressure was an alarmingly high 188/105—or, more accurately, alarming by today’s standards. But back then, nobody knew that high blood pressure was related in any way to cardiovascular disease (CVD). As a result, the nation was completely blind-sided when Roosevelt died of a stroke four years later.
The link between hypertension and CVD is now common knowledge due to a research program launched in 1948 called the Framingham Heart Study, now in its 70th year. To kick off American Heart Month this February, the Framingham Study’s current director, IRP Senior Investigator Daniel Levy, M.D., gave a lecture on February 1, titled “Unraveling the Mysteries of Cardiovascular Disease: Lessons from NHLBI’s Framingham Heart Study.”
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Joanne Compo, a sophomore at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, spent the summer of 2017 working in the lab of NIH IRP Distinguished Investigator Dr. Kenneth Fischbeck. She helped create a quality of life questionnaire for patients with Kennedy’s disease, a neuromuscular disorder that causes muscles to weaken over time due to the death of motor neurons responsible for movement. Such a questionnaire could help affected individuals get diagnosed more quickly and shed light on which interventions improve their lives the most.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Jason Mazique, who is currently a freshman at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, spent his 2017 summer working in the lab of NIH IRP Senior Investigator Dr. Harish Pant. During his time at the NIH, Mazique investigated how a particular protein affects neurons in the brain, with implications for neurological conditions like ALS and Alzheimer’s disease
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
There are many ways to categorize the research performed at the NIH Intramural Research Program: biomedical or behavioral; computational, basic, translational, or clinical; excellent or outstanding; wow or double-wow; and so on. When we launched the irp.nih.gov website, we utilized the concept of scientific focus areas, or SFAs, and identified 21 such SFAs at the IRP, from biomedical engineering & biophysics to virology.
We thought the 21 SFAs did a rather nice job of summing up all the diverse science in the IRP. Then along comes RNA biology. It's not as if the field is new; some 30 Nobel Prizes have been won involving RNA over the decades. But the field has had a renaissance in recent years with discoveries such as that of noncoding RNA (ncRNA) functioning in genome defense and chromosome inactivation. Newly revealed classes of RNAs and their remarkable functions are poised to revolutionize molecular biology, with profound implications for clinical sciences.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
There are new reports of an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This news comes just two years after international control efforts eventually contained an Ebola outbreak in West Africa, though before control was achieved, more than 11,000 people died—the largest known Ebola outbreak in human history. Many questions remain about why some people die from Ebola and others survive. Now, some answers are beginning to emerge thanks to a new detailed analysis of the immune responses of a unique Ebola survivor, a 34-year-old American health-care worker who was critically ill and cared for at the NIH Special Clinical Studies Unit in 2015.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
The struggle to maintain a healthy weight is a lifelong challenge for many of us. In fact, the average American packs on an extra 30 pounds from early adulthood to age 50. What’s responsible for this tendency toward middle-age spread? For most of us, too many calories and too little exercise definitely play a role. But now comes word that another reason may lie in a strong—and previously unknown—biochemical mechanism related to the normal aging process.
Friday, May 5, 2017
Claude Klee, a true giant among the many great NIH biochemists, died on Monday, April 3, after suffering a heart attack. She was 85 years old. Claude was a pioneer in the biochemistry of calcium-binding proteins and calcium-dependent signaling. Although retired for more than a decade, she remained an active mentor and advisor at the NIH in the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and a consistent presence on the Bethesda campus until her death.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Studying the neural control of behavior is a challenge. Researchers must consider an animal’s environment, past experiences, and motivations. Work in relatively simple organisms, for example the invertebrate C. elegans, has teased apart the neural circuitry of highly stereotyped behaviors, like foraging. But in mammals, very little is known, “and that’s surprising given just how important behaviors like this are,” said Dr. Eric Horstick, who studies the molecular mechanisms underlying animal behavior.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Contributed by an NIH clinical trial participant.
My 8-year-old nephew Luke has a sixth-grade reading level, while still in the third grade. Yet, he often struggles to finish his chores. He carries a timer in his backpack to keep himself on task. His school provides Luke with special assistance, including extra time for tests and repeated, detailed instruction. The challenges arise because Luke, like his mother Rebecca, has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).