Monday, May 4, 2015
When I was growing up, my grandfather would visit and try to teach me thermodynamics. At the time, I thought that this was normal conversation between a grandfather and a little girl. It was several years before I realized that he was an eminent scientist in his home country. My grandfather would always ask me, “How is your science?”
Monday, April 20, 2015
Ever since the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA, scientists have sought ways to edit the genome. Altering gene expression partially and transiently via small interfering RNA has come a long way, and the progress has been spectacular. However, achieving complete and sustained modification of gene expression in a cell remains a tedious procedure that is often costly and time-consuming. For molecular biologists working with cell lines, quick and efficient knock out of one or more genes would provide a powerful tool for their studies. The CRISPR technology arrived two years ago to potentially fulfill that need.
Monday, April 13, 2015
Monitoring cell movement. Examining the microenvironment of a tumor. Mapping a gene. Scientists at the NCI Center for Cancer Research (CCR)—the intramural research program at the National Cancer Institute—use a wide variety of microscopy techniques to observe and probe the otherwise invisible processes that drive cancer at the molecular level.
Friday, April 10, 2015
The cover is stained, the binding is broken, and the edges are burnt from use at a laboratory bench. Practical Pathology by Sir German Sims Woodhead, 3rd ed., 1892, belonged in the library of the original Hygienic Laboratory, which became the NIH in 1930. Although it has seen hard use in its 123 years, this book is now in the NIH Stetten Museum collection and begins a month showcasing some of our recent accessions.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
The brain’s complexity and how its coordinated actions of billions of neurons shape our behavior and cognition have always fascinated me. So, I decided to go into neuroscience as a career and contribute to biomedical science.
Friday, March 13, 2015
Each day, hundreds of thousands of biomedical researchers around the world design and execute studies, with diverse trajectories and outcomes and where success is based largely on reproducibility. However, a large percentage of experiments using cell culture techniques have been labelled as irreproducible, with around 25 percent of all cell-line research described as either contaminated with other cells or mischaracterized in some way. In other words, if your kidney cancer cell isn’t really a kidney cancer line, then how will anyone else be able to reproduce your work?
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
“Know your enemy” describes the work of Dr. Sarah Branham (1888-1962). She dedicated much of her career to understanding meningitis, identifying different strains, and developing the effective tests and treatments for the disease in anti-serum and sulfa drugs.
In this September 1937 photo, Branham and technician Robert Forkish inoculate a mouse with meningococcus antiserum to determine whether it will protect against meningitis:
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
You mix everything together that’s necessary for the reaction, and half the time it works, half the time it doesn’t. One day you get great PCR results, you’re on cloud nine, everything worked, and then you go repeat it to verify the result (because n never equals 1 in science), and it doesn’t work. You begin to feel like maybe you just got lucky with the first experiment.
Friday, February 13, 2015
“And he said, ‘I can assure you that if you go through and become a good dentist, people will travel all over the world to find you. Chemists travel all over the world to find a job.”
That was the advice for Dr. Francis Arnold, who did become a dentist and helped establish the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, from his mentor, Dr. Thomas Hill, Professor of Clinical Oral Pathology and Therapeutics at Western Reserve University. The excerpt, and those that follow, come from Dr. Arnold's 1964 NIH oral history series. During the interviews, he discusses how his experiments and interests led him to become one of the four Public Health Service scientists who pioneered the study of fluorides and their effect on teeth.
Monday, February 9, 2015
Negative data piling up on your desk likely hides a good amount of useful information. Why waste all the hard work by forgetting about it?