Budding Scientists Present Their Research During Three-Day Virtual Event
Monday, August 30, 2021
Although NIH’s 2021 Summer Internship Program (SIP) was fully virtual this year, that didn’t stop the hundreds of participating high school, college, and graduate students from contributing to a variety of important IRP research projects. More than 500 students who worked in NIH labs this summer presented their work during this year’s Summer Presentation Week, which took place August 3-5.
I sifted through the lengthy list of presenters at the event and spoke with a diverse group of young men and women who spent their summers expanding our knowledge of human health and biology. Read on to learn about these promising future scientists and doctors and the research they completed this summer.
Individuals From Around the World Drive IRP Breakthroughs
Wednesday, August 11, 2021
Come to NIH and you’ll hear many accents. Scientists from around the world have always contributed significantly to the NIH mission. The resulting diversity of backgrounds and perspectives makes the NIH Intramural Research Program an extremely stimulating and productive environment. Read on to learn about some of the many scientists of the past and present who brought their talents from abroad to one of the world’s leading institutions for biomedical research.
Findings Point to Approaches for Staving Off Health Problems in Infected Individuals
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Over the four decades since it mysteriously began destroying the immune systems of Americans in New York and California, HIV has proven to be a frustratingly wily opponent for scientists. Even today, when treatments can fully suppress the virus in infected individuals, it continues to harm their health. A new IRP study has identified several ways dormant HIV might chronically stimulate the immune system, suggesting potential avenues for preventing the health problems that causes.
IRP Researcher Nancy Sullivan Led Development of Cutting-Edge Treatment
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Twenty-four years before the novel coronavirus began spreading in Wuhan, China, an outbreak of another deadly virus burned through the city of Kikwit in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Between January and August of 1995, 316 people are thought to have contracted Ebola, and 252 of them died. More than a decade later, a team of NIH infectious disease scientists would track down one of the survivors and use a sample of the individual’s blood to produce one of the first effective treatments for Ebola.
Thursday, July 16, 2020
Flossie Wong-Staal — a pioneering former NIH scientist, a major figure in the discovery of HIV, and the first to clone that virus — died on July 8, 2020. She was 73 years old.
Flossie arrived at the NIH as a Visiting Fellow in 1973 and began working in the National Cancer Institute (NCI) lab of Robert Gallo, who was on the cusp of a remarkable string of discoveries. Flossie, with her Ph.D. from UCLA in molecular biology, became the ideal complement to Bob Gallo's medical-based scientific intuition, and the two would go on to co-author more than 100 journal articles over the next 20 years.
Four Questions with Dr. John Mascola
Friday, November 29, 2019
The disease known as human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, attacks and destroys cells vital to the immune system. This leaves the millions of people living with HIV less able to fight other infections and can lead to an extremely severe form of immune system deficiency called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which was responsible for nearly 770,000 deaths in 2018 alone. As of 2019, there are approximately 37.9 million people around the world living with HIV/AIDS.
Although HIV/AIDS has been recognized as a serious public health crisis, finding effective treatments, or a vaccine to prevent infection in the first place, is not a simple task. The HIV virus has many different types and strains — similar to the flu — which makes developing vaccines and treatments extremely challenging, as the virus is constantly changing. At the NIH, there are a number of ongoing collaborative research projects aimed at providing new options for those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and those at risk for contracting the virus in the future.
A Conversation with Dr. Paolo Lusso
Thursday, June 27, 2019
First discovered in 1981, human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, caused one of the most deadly and persistent epidemics in history. HIV destroys CD4+ T cells, a type of white blood cell essential for fighting infection. In doing so, HIV destroys the body’s ability to fight off disease, which often leads to life-threatening consequences.
Today, medications have allowed people living with HIV to lead healthier lives. However, HIV still remains a major public health concern and continues to be studied by researchers within the IRP and beyond.
IRP research has produced findings essential to the development of current HIV treatments and tools for diagnosis. However, there is still a lot left to learn. One recent IRP contribution to HIV research was a 2017 study led by IRP senior investigator Paolo Lusso, M.D., Ph.D., which suggests that treatments targeting a protein called integrin α4β7 could potentially become an addition to current treatment options for those with HIV, or provide new measures to prevent infection.
Thursday, June 20, 2019
Along with scientists around the country and the world, the IRP community is mourning the loss of former NIH Director James B. Wyngaarden, M.D, who passed away on June 14. Dr. Wyngaarden served as the 12th NIH Director from 1982 to 1989. During that time, he guided the NIH's instrumental role in responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and initiating the Human Genome Project. He also played a key role in the creation of the NIH Children's Inn.
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
In one of Aesop’s classic fables, a clever wolf dons a sheep’s skin in order to move through the herd undetected. As it turns out, IRP researchers have discovered that in people with a specific set of immune system genes, the HIV virus uses a similar approach to hide from the body’s defenses.1
Nearly all cells in our bodies are coated with proteins called human leukocyte antigens (HLAs). These proteins allow the immune system to distinguish between healthy, native cells and those contaminated by unwelcome visitors like viruses or bacteria that must be destroyed. Each of the various HLA proteins is encoded by a different HLA gene and these genes vary considerably between individuals, causing different people to have different variants of each HLA protein.
“There are thousands of different forms of these HLA genes, and that variation allows us, as a species, to deal with virtually all infectious pathogens,” says IRP Senior Investigator Mary N. Carrington, Ph.D., the senior author of the new paper. “We’re really interested in the diversity of that part of the genome, since the risk of essentially every autoimmune disease, many cancers, and probably every infectious disease is associated with this set of genes.”
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
The surprising results of an animal study are raising hopes for a far simpler treatment regimen for people infected with the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Currently, HIV-infected individuals can live a near normal life span if, every day, they take a complex combination of drugs called antiretroviral therapy (ART). The bad news is if they stop ART, the small amounts of HIV that still lurk in their bodies can bounce back and infect key immune cells, called CD4 T cells, resulting in life-threatening suppression of their immune systems.