IRP Investigators Begin Hundreds of New Coronavirus-Related Studies
Monday, June 15, 2020
Within just a few months after COVID-19 began spreading in the United States, IRP researchers had already made numerous important contributions to the fight against the deadly virus. Scientific knowledge about the disease continues to expand at a unprecedented pace, and the IRP will continue to play a major role in this effort over the coming months and years. In fact, nearly 300 new intramural research projects related to the novel coronavirus are currently starting up or have already begun.
NIH Researcher Recognized for Insights into Genetic Immune System Diseases
Monday, June 8, 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 Luigi Notarangelo, M.D., was one of four IRP researchers recently elected to the NAM. As the head of the Immune Deficiency Genetics Section and the Laboratory of Clinical Immunology and Microbiology at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Notarangelo investigates the cellular and molecular roots of genetic conditions called primary immune deficiencies that compromise the immune system. These illnesses leave patients — many of whom are children — highly vulnerable to infections and can also lead to autoimmune problems caused when the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. Some of Dr. Notarangelo’s patients have known genetic mutations, while for others the source of their disease remains a mystery.
IRP Vaccine Research Stretches Back to the NIH’s Birth
Monday, May 18, 2020
Over the past few months, the world has gained a new appreciation for the long, difficult process of producing vaccines as it waits anxiously for one that will provide protection from the novel coronavirus. With the NIH Vaccine Research Center’s efforts to develop a COVID19 vaccine drawing a huge amount of media attention, it is easy to forget that the IRP has been making vital contributions to vaccine development for more than 100 years. These efforts have helped produce vaccinations for smallpox, rubella, hepatitis A, whooping cough, human papillomavirus (HPV), and several other diseases. Read on for a visual journey through the history of IRP vaccine research.
Cells From Bone Marrow Calm Damaging Immune Response
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
In patients with the inflammatory disease sarcoidosis, the body’s own immune cells rampage around the body like The Incredible Hulk set loose in a city, attacking both harmful pathogens and our own tissues. However, just like the Black Widow can calm The Hulk down and return him to human form in the Avengers films, cells isolated from our bone marrow may be able to change certain immune cells from a damaging state to a benign one, according to new IRP research.
Infectious Disease Expert Interviewed by NBA Superstar
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
As the COVID-19 illness has continued to spread, so has anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. Now more than ever, we need communicators who can provide clear explanations about the latest research and public health guidelines.
IRP senior investigator Anthony Fauci, Ph.D., has been one of the most prominent voices providing information about the novel coronavirus over the past several weeks. Dr. Fauci, who serves as director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), seems to be doing everything he can to make sure the American public has the best information available about the current situation, from speaking at White House press briefings to appearing on television shows like The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Last Thursday, March 26, Dr. Fauci participated in a live Q&A with NBA superstar Stephen Curry on Curry’s Instagram page. Read on for a few highlights from their discussion, or click on the video below to watch the entire conversation.
The IRP’s Mario Roederer and Robert Seder Discuss the Science Behind the Headlines
Monday, March 23, 2020
Some say that if something’s not broken, then don’t fix it, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. At least, those were the thoughts of IRP senior investigators Mario Roederer, Ph.D., and Robert Alan Seder, M.D., who recently found that the century-old tuberculosis (TB) vaccine is far more effective when administered via injection into a vein (IV) rather than into the skin, which has long been the standard way it is given. This major breakthrough received extensive media coverage, including a story in the New York Times. We went Behind the Headlines to get the inside scoop on this potentially life-saving discovery.
Four Questions with Dr. Niki Moutsopoulos
Friday, March 20, 2020
Our mouths are teeming with bacteria, a microbial ecosystem known as the oral microbiome. While these microbes are typically benign, under certain circumstances they can turn harmful and contribute to oral diseases such as periodontitis, a form of chronic gum disease characterized by microbe-driven inflammation of the soft tissues and bone that support our teeth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 65 million Americans aged 30 or older have some degree of periodontitis. In its early stage, known as gingivitis, the gums become swollen and red due to inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to the presence of bacteria. If the condition worsens, it can lead to loose teeth and, eventually, bone or tooth loss.
NIH senior investigator Niki Moutsopoulos, Ph.D., head of the Oral Immunity and Inflammation Section at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), studies periodontitis and aims to understand the immune system’s role in driving this destruction. In a 2018 study, she and her team of IRP researchers and outside collaborators discovered that an abnormal and unhealthy population of microbes in the mouth causes specialized immune cells, known as T helper 17 (Th17) cells, to trigger inflammation and destroy tissue, leading to periodontitis.
Narrower Research Focus Could Aid Treatment for Autoimmune Diseases
Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Police pursuing a dangerous criminal rely on witness descriptions of the suspect’s specific traits — height, weight, hair color, tattoos — to pick out the perpetrator from a vast population of mostly innocent individuals. Scientists can likewise distinguish between highly similar cell types using cutting-edge laboratory procedures. Using such techniques, IRP researchers have identified a particular variety of cell in a specific stage of its life cycle as a primary culprit behind the autoimmune disease known as lupus.
NIH Researcher Recognized for Enhancing the Molecular Understanding of Immune Responses
Tuesday, March 3, 2020
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS), established in 1863, is comprised of the United States’ most distinguished scientific scholars, including nearly 500 Nobel Prize winners. Members of the NAS are elected by their peers and entrusted with the responsibility of providing independent, objective advice on national matters related to science and technology in an effort to advance innovations in the United States.
IRP senior investigator Michael Lenardo, M.D., is one of four IRP researchers elected to the NAS over the past two years. At the NIH, Dr. Lenardo serves as Chief of the Molecular Development of the Immune System Section at the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), where he studies how the cells in the immune system mount protective responses to various pathogens, including viruses and bacteria. A major focus of Dr. Lenardo’s work is the investigation of genetic abnormalities in the immune system, which have the potential to cause life-threatening diseases.
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.