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.
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.
Studies of Blood Stem Cells Stimulate Pioneering Therapeutic Approaches
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
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 Distinguished Investigator Cynthia E. Dunbar, M.D., was elected to the NAM last year for her pioneering research into hematopoietic stem cells, the cells in bone marrow that develop into oxygen-carrying red blood cells, infection-fighting white blood cells, and clot-forming platelets. Her work has led to valuable insights into the production of those blood cells, called hematopoiesis, and its role in human health. Her discoveries have also resulted in new approaches to treat disease by improving stem cell functioning or manipulating stem cells with gene therapy.
Virtual Symposium Showcases Scientists-in-Training
Monday, March 8, 2021
Even in the midst of a global pandemic, life at NIH goes on. IRP researchers continue to run experiments, publish scientific papers, and train the next generation of scientists, including the many graduate students performing research in IRP labs through the Graduate Partnership Program. On February 17 and 18, more than 100 of these scientists-in-training presented their work virtually at the NIH’s 17th annual Graduate Student Research Symposium. Like last year’s entirely online Postbac Poster Day, the event overcame the constraints of COVID-19 precautions to showcase a broad range of research, including several studies focused on the novel coronavirus.
NIH Scientist’s Decoy Virus Revolutionizes Cervical Cancer Prevention
Monday, March 1, 2021
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 John T. Schiller, Ph.D., was elected to the NAS in 2020 in recognition of a career that has produced numerous discoveries about human papillomaviruses (HPV), sexually transmitted infections that cause genital warts and are responsible for most cases of cervical cancer. His decades-long partnership with fellow IRP senior investigator Douglas R. Lowy, M.D., who was elected to the NAS in 2009, has yielded a deeper understanding of how HPV infects and damages cells and led to the creation of the first vaccines to prevent HPV infection.
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.
Mouse Study Suggests Common Fungus Could Worsen Respiratory Infections
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, both scientists and the media have focused on the factors that influence who experiences mild symptoms or none at all and who faces potentially life-threatening consequences from the disease. Other respiratory viruses like the flu also have widely varying effects on different patients. New IRP research has found that exposure to a common variety of mold primes the immune system to overreact to the flu virus, dramatically increasing the illness’s severity.
Future Physician-Scientists Spent a Year in IRP Labs
Monday, September 21, 2020
Many doctors not only treat patients directly, but also make valuable contributions to research that will improve medical care in the future. Each one of these talented ‘physician-scientists’ began his or her research career under the guidance of a more senior scientist. At the NIH, the Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP) provides just such an experience to promising young medical students from all across the United States.
Program Boosts Initiatives Supporting Researchers Across NIH
Tuesday, September 1, 2020
From Superbowl-winning football teams to comic book cohorts like The Avengers, combining the efforts of multiple talented individuals is a proven strategy for achieving remarkable results. It may come as no surprise, then, that the NIH’s Intramural Research Program (IRP) strongly encourages collaborations that breach the boundaries of its 24 Institutes and Centers. One example of these efforts is the Director’s Challenge Innovation Awards Program, which since 2009 has funded high-impact scientific projects that bring together researchers from across the IRP.
Study Also Reveals Immunotherapy’s Target on Cancer Cells
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
In the 1995 film The Usual Suspects, Kevin Spacey’s con man character famously remarks, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.” The same could be said of cancer, which somehow persuades the body it is not a threat. Cutting-edge treatments called immunotherapies remove this façade and encourage the immune system to attack cancer cells. New IRP research in mice has demonstrated the promise of a new immunotherapy for treating ovarian cancer and identified a marker on cancer cells that could help clinicians identify patients who are most likely to benefit from the therapy.