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.
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.
Women Scientists Advisors Select Three Young Researchers for Recognition
Thursday, May 19, 2022
While women have now overtaken men in terms of admission and enrollment in undergraduate education, they remain underrepresented in the sciences. This includes at NIH, where 74 percent of senior investigators and 54 percent of tenure-track investigators are male, according to the most recent statistics available. Consequently, NIH is putting considerable effort into supporting women scientists at all stages of their careers.
One NIH entity dedicated to this important work is the NIH Women Scientists Advisors (WSA), a group of women elected to represent the interests of women scientists in the IRP. Among its many initiatives, each year the WSA chooses several female postdoctoral fellows or graduate students in the IRP to receive the WSA Scholar Award in recognition of their outstanding scientific achievements. The awardees present their research at the annual WSA Scholars Symposium, which this year was held on April 25 and recognized young women leading efforts to better understand how disease-related genes evolved, an investigation of how a fatty liver can give rise to liver cancer, and the evaluation of a way to deliver gene therapy for a rare genetic disease. Read on to learn more about this year’s WSA Scholars and the impressive discoveries they have made during their time in the IRP.
IRP Researchers Discover Unexpected Stress-Blunting Effects of Some Neurons
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
The past few years have not been easy for anyone. With world events like the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine causing everyone to worry, it’s no surprise that during this April’s annual Stress Awareness Month observance, so many people experienced high levels of stress and anxiety. While stress management techniques and talk therapy may help some people, nearly 10 million Americans need prescription anti-anxiety drugs to quell those feelings.
One important target for anti-anxiety medications is norepinephrine, a chemical released by certain neurons in the brain. Norepinephrine — also known as noradrenaline — has traditionally been considered to be a ‘stress chemical’ that triggers anxiety. However, drugs designed to target the neurons that produce it don’t always work as predicted. That’s why IRP senior investigator Patricia Jensen, Ph.D., and her colleagues in the Developmental Neurobiology Group at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) are delving deep into the mouse brain to better understand these neurons and what exactly they do.
Dr. Noor White Traces Evolution to Identify Genes Critical for Vision
Monday, April 11, 2022
The eye has existed in some form for roughly 600 million years. Its many intricate components and the general ability of organisms to sense light have continued to adapt and evolve over huge spans of time into what we know as vision today. By mapping out the evolution of vision, Noor White, Ph.D., hopes to shed light on the genetic causes of diseases that affect the retina, the part of the eye that turns light into electrical signals the brain can use to build an image of our surroundings.
“If we can take a step back and look at the bigger picture, then we can identify the critical genetic components of vision,” explains Dr. White, who was an IRP postdoctoral fellow for four years before becoming a Staff Scientist in March.
IRP’s Ph.D. and Medical Students Present Research at Virtual Event
Thursday, March 10, 2022
The IRP isn’t concerned only with discovering the secrets of how our bodies work and developing new therapies to treat disease. Senior scientists and many other employees at NIH also are actively involved in training the next generation of researchers. One place where the benefits of those efforts is strikingly clear is at NIH’s annual Graduate Student Research Symposium, where graduate students performing research in NIH labs show of the fruits of their partnerships with IRP researchers.
On February 16 and 17, more than 100 of the IRP’s graduate students presented their work virtually at the 18th edition of the event. These young scientists discussed the results of studies on a huge range of topics, from how hunger changes during pregnancy to how viruses cause cancer. Read on to learn about a small sampling of the projects they’ve been hard at work on.
IRP Researchers Discover Genetic Disorder Affecting the Brain and Skull
Thursday, March 3, 2022
A baby is born with a birth defect every four and a half minutes in the United States, adding up to one in every 33 babies born each year in this country. While some birth defects can be corrected or treated, many result in life-altering disabilities, and sometimes the child doesn’t survive. In fact, birth defects account for about 20 percent of infant deaths in the U.S. World Birth Defects Day, celebrated on March 3 each year, honors the people and organizations who are working to understand, prevent, and treat birth defects.
One of these organizations is the Undiagnosed Diseases Program (UDP) at NIH, which connects experts across the IRP’s 23 Institutes and Centers in a joint effort to find explanations for the “most puzzling medical cases" referred to the NIH Clinical Center.
Research in Cells Shows Promise for an Alternative Way to Halt Sperm Production
Tuesday, February 1, 2022
Birth control has long been mostly one-sided, as the vast majority of contraceptive methods are intended exclusively for women. However, recent IRP research has shown the potential of a new approach towards creating a reversible method of male contraception.
Women have a vast array of contraceptive options available to them, from ‘the pill’ to intrauterine devices (IUDs) and other products. However, for men, the only options aside from condoms are safe but irreversible surgical procedures. More than 40 percent of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended, and additional options for male birth control could help reduce that number.
Early-Career Scientists Power Through Pandemic to Launch Labs
Monday, January 24, 2022
NIH has long prided itself on its ability to accelerate the careers of the brightest young physicians and scientists in the country. One of these many efforts is the Lasker Clinical Research Scholars Program, which provides a select group of individuals relatively early in their scientific careers with the funding and institutional support to start their own labs at NIH. After five to seven years of independent research in the IRP, Lasker Scholars are given the option to apply for three years of funding for work outside of NIH or to remain as investigators at NIH.
While launching a lab in the midst of a global pandemic is no easy task, five Lasker Scholars have done just that over the past year. Their research on cancer, Parkinson’s disease, childhood blindness, and inflammatory conditions is now well underway and promises to eventually improve the lives of many patients. Keep reading to learn more about how NIH’s newest Lasker Scholars are changing the way we treat those illnesses.