NIH Researcher Recognized for Investigation into Genomic Stability
Monday, June 29, 2020
The National Academy of Medicine (NAM), first established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences as the Institute of Medicine (IOM), is comprised of more than 2,000 elected members from around the world who provide scientific and policy guidance on important matters relating to human health. Election to the NAM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have not only made critical scientific discoveries but have also demonstrated a laudable commitment to public service.
IRP senior investigator Andre Nussenzweig, Ph.D., was one of four IRP researchers recently elected to the NAM. Dr. Nussenzweig leads the Laboratory of Genome Integrity at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), where he studies how cells repair a form of DNA damage called a double strand break (DSB). This type of insult, which severs both strands of the double-stranded DNA molecule, is one of the most dangerous. If not repaired properly, DSBs can kill cells or cause DNA to rearrange in ways that are associated with cancer. Moreover, while DSBs can be caused by chemotherapy drugs and radiation, they can also happen by random chance during the course of normal cellular processes. Intriguingly, not all parts of the DNA molecule are equally susceptible to this form of damage.
Scientists Parse Wide-Ranging Effects of Endometrial Cancer Mutation
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
The so-called ‘butterfly effect’ supposes that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas. While the jury is still out on insect-induced natural disasters, it is clear that a single genetic mutation can have wide-ranging and unexpected consequences throughout a cell. By examining the ripple effects caused by changes in a particular gene, IRP researchers have identified a potential treatment target for a particularly deadly variety of cancer.
Mouse Study Suggests Approach to Protect Cancer Patients’ Hearing
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
The internet is filled with lists of ‘life hacks’ that provide instructions on how to re-purpose common items, from turning glass jars into flower vases to using sticky notes to remove dust or crumbs from the crevices of a computer keyboard. On occasion, this kind of inventive spirit can be used to improve human health as well. IRP researchers have found evidence in mice that a statin medication originally created to lower cholesterol might also reduce hearing loss caused by a common cancer therapy.
Event Spotlights Students Completing Their Ph.D. Research in IRP Labs
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
The NIH provides an extraordinarily rich environment for learning and honing the skills needed to pursue a scientific career. It’s no wonder, then, that Ph.D. students from institutions all across the United States and the rest of the world come here to conduct their dissertation research under the mentorship of the IRP’s many renowned investigators.
Nearly 150 of those students presented the fruits of their scientific work at the NIH’s 16th annual Graduate Student Research Symposium on Thursday, February 20. The insights they have produced on topics from cancer to autoimmune disease to environmental contaminants were supremely impressive and will likely contribute to important improvements in medical care in the future. For anyone who missed this exciting event, read on to learn about a few of the many research projects that were on display.
Decreased Energy Production Could Contribute to Cancer-Related Fatigue
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
We all know the feeling of being wiped out after a hard workout or a grueling day at the office — you just want to flop down on the couch and not move, or even think. For many cancer patients, the treatment for their disease can trigger that sort of physical and mental exhaustion for weeks or months. New IRP research has found evidence linking this phenomenon, known as cancer-related fatigue, to a slow-down in cells’ energy-producing mitochondria.
Thursday, February 6, 2020
Our friend and former colleague Phil Leder, among the world's most accomplished molecular geneticists, died on Sunday, February 2, at age 85. His work with Marshall Nirenberg — namely, the famed Nirenberg and Leder experiments starting at the NIH in 1964, which definitively elucidated the triplet nature of the genetic code and culminated in its full deciphering — helped set the stage for the revolution in molecular genetic research that Phil himself would continue to lead for the next three decades.
Scientific Team-Up Identifies Source of Tumor Drug Resistance
Tuesday, December 17, 2019
It’s an unfortunate reality that nearly everyone knows somebody whose life has been affected by cancer. However, a discovery by two researchers who met by chance years ago might one day help more cancer patients overcome their disease. Two scientific teams led by the IRP’s Craig Thomas, Ph.D., a group leader at the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), and Daniel Starczynowski, Ph.D., of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, recently published a study describing a possible breakthrough in the fight against acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a form of cancer responsible for nearly 11,000 deaths per year in the United States.
Modifying Tumor’s Surroundings Stymies Cancer’s Expansion
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
If you ever tried planting an apple tree in the desert or growing avocados in New England, you would quickly figure out that such plants need a particular environment in order to thrive. Cancerous tumors are no different, and IRP researchers recently found strong evidence that a molecule naturally produced in the body can suppress the growth and spread of a particularly lethal form of breast cancer via both direct effects on the cancer and by altering its surroundings.
Exceptional Early-Stage Investigators Push the Boundaries of Translational Research
Thursday, December 5, 2019
Online and print publications are constantly touting momentous discoveries by superstar scientists like CRISPR-Cas9 co-discover Jennifer Doudna or the IRP’s own Kevin Hall, who changed the way we think about weight loss. It can be easy to forget that today’s biomedical pioneers were once young researchers toiling to establish themselves in the competitive environment of modern science.
Each year, a small, exceptionally promising group of scientific up-and-comers become Lasker Clinical Research Scholars through a highly competitive program jointly funded by the NIH and the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation. The program presents early-stage physician-scientists with the opportunity to carry out independent clinical research at the NIH for five to ten years. The 2019 class of Lasker Scholars consists of five extremely talented researchers who are now beginning a critical new phase in their careers. Let’s meet them.
Four Questions with Dr. Tim Greten
Tuesday, November 19, 2019
There are over 100 different types of cancer, with liver, breast, and colon cancers among the most common. At the NIH, researchers across the organization have long been committed to furthering cancer research in an effort to increase the number of cancer survivors. They consistently push the boundaries of this field each day in the hopes that their work could lead to better diagnoses, better treatment, and better outcomes for cancer patients.
A 2018 study by IRP senior investigator Tim Greten, M.D., and his IRP colleagues did just that and more. Their research pushed the norms of cancer research by studying how a treatment as simple as antibiotics affects cancerous liver tumors. By utilizing antibiotics to wipe out the collection of microorganisms living in the digestive tracts of mice — known as the gut microbiome — the team identified a link between the gut microbiome and the behavior of the liver’s immune cells, which play a role in defending the organ against cancer. The IRP team ultimately showed that antibiotic treatment reduced the development of liver tumors in these ‘germ-free’ mice, and it also reduced the likelihood that tumors in other areas of the body would metastasize — or spread — to the animals’ livers, a finding that could one day prove beneficial to future cancer patients.