Understanding Social and Behavioral Research in the IRP
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
The NIH IRP is world-renowned for its high-risk, high-reward biomedical research. While the NIH may be best known for its clinical and biomedical research on topics from cancer to allergies to addiction, IRP investigators have also produced a rich body of work conducted in the area of social and behavioral research (SBR). In this post, I will describe how SBR furthers the NIH’s goals of improving human health with some examples of the excellent work done by SBR investigators in the IRP.
Reddit “Ask Me Anything” Commemorates Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Friday, October 11, 2019
Breast cancer touches the lives of millions of Americans every year. In 2019 alone, researchers expect more than 300,000 American women to be diagnosed with breast cancer, along with more than 2,600 men. Roughly one out of every eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in her lifetime, making it the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in American women.
On October 9, in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) partnered with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to host a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) with two prominent researchers in the NCI's Women's Malignancies Branch: Stanley Lipkowitz, M.D., Ph.D., and Alexandra Zimmer, M.D. Between Dr. Lipkowitz’s extensive knowledge of the cellular and molecular pathways involved in breast cancer and Dr. Zimmer’s expertise in the development of clinical trials for breast cancer treatments, the pair were able to offer intriguing insights on topics ranging from recent advances in breast cancer treatment to genetic and environmental factors that influence risk for the disease. Read on for some of the most interesting exchanges that took place, or check out the full AMA on Reddit.
5 Questions with Dr. Francis McMahon
Thursday, October 10, 2019
Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the U.S., affecting nearly seven percent of American adults each year. With the increasing social and economic pressures of the modern world likely contributing to depressive symptoms, it is more important now than ever to study depression and the factors that contribute to recovery.
A number of variables contribute to an individual’s overall mental health and response to treatment, including elements of nature and nurture that have long been studied at the NIH. In a 2013 study, researchers led by IRP senior investigator Francis McMahon, M.D., set out to understand the complex genetic factors that he believed might help explain why antidepressants are less effective for African Americans with depression than for other populations. His research revealed that differences in socioeconomics and health explained most of those differences in antidepressant response, and the remaining differences were explained by differences in genetic ancestry, rather than self-reported race. The discovery that genetics play a role in this health disparity could help close the gap and improve depression treatment for African Americans.
Annual Event Highlights Contributions of IRP Postdoctoral Fellows
Monday, September 16, 2019
At lunchtime last Wednesday, the NIH Clinical Center’s FAES Terrace echoed with the joyful sounds of scientists nourishing their bodies and their brains. While those stopping by the annual NIH Research Festival poster session could be forgiven for making a beeline straight for the food — including the submissions to this year’s Scientific Directors’ baking competition — once their plates were full, they took advantage of the opportunity to satiate their scientific curiosity as well by checking out the dozens of posters on display.
Discovery Could Improve Therapy for Multiple Autoimmune Diseases
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Hiding among YouTube’s vast collection of cooking demos and funny cat videos are clips of patients and their advocates designed to raise awareness of specific diseases. It was just such a video that led IRP Senior Investigator Peter Grayson, M.D., M.Sc., to begin studying an extremely rare illness called deficiency of adenosine deaminase 2, or DADA2 for short. The recently published findings of that research could help improve treatment not just for patients with DADA2 but also many more individuals with similar ailments.
IRP Study Suggests a Way to Prevent Unhealthy Fat Buildup
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Many important scientific discoveries happen when a scientist stumbles across something curious and decides to investigate further. Alexander Fleming, for example, famously discovered penicillin by examining mold that grew in one of his petri dishes while he was away on vacation. A recent IRP study spurred by a similarly unexpected observation could eventually lead to a method of preventing or reversing unhealthy amounts of fat storage in the liver.
Treatment Regimen Allows Genetically Mismatched Skin Grafts in Mice
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Thousands of patients who need an organ transplant die each year before a donor can be found. A new IRP study has identified a safer way to prevent a transplant recipient’s body from attacking a genetically dissimilar donor organ, which could dramatically expand the pool of potential organ donors.
DNA Day Reddit “Ask Me Anything” Prompts Rousing Discussion
Monday, May 6, 2019
Each year on April 25, we celebrate National DNA Day, which commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 and the discovery of DNA's double helix in 1953. On this day students, teachers, and the public learn more about genetics and genomics. In honor of DNA Day this year, on April 24, the NIH IRP partnered with the NIH's National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) to host a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) with three experts on the many ways that advances in the genomic sciences are changing our lives.
Thursday, February 28, 2019
The NIH’s main campus in Bethesda, Maryland, may have the look and feel of a university campus, but the world-renowned research institution does not grant credentials like an M.D. or Ph.D. Instead, the Graduate Partnerships Program offers graduate students from schools around the world the opportunity to complete research for their Ph.D. dissertations in IRP labs while pursuing advanced degrees from their ‘host’ institutions.
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
The human genome comprises roughly three billion base pairs and around 20,000 protein-coding genes, according to recent estimates. That’s a lot of information crammed into the tiny nucleus of a cell, and it doesn’t even include the many genes that do not produce a protein or the fact that most genes come in multiple flavors that vary in different individuals. Add to that the phenomenon of an identical gene being either more or less active in two different people and you can quickly end up with genomic datasets that would overload nearly any computer. Fortunately for IRP senior investigator Daniel Levy, M.D., the NIH IRP has one of the few computer systems in the world that can handle this mountain of information.