Tuesday, June 5, 2018
The most important step to solving any problem is to choose the right tool for the job. Just like a heavy fur coat will keep you comfortable in the Arctic but slowly roast you in the Sahara, your immune system’s response can be helpful or harmful depending on the specific invader it’s fighting off. A new IRP study has identified a molecular “switch” that shifts an important type of immune cell between two different approaches to protecting the body.
Monday, June 4, 2018
The NIH Lasker Clinical Research Scholar Program, an initiative to support early-stage clinical researchers, has reached a milestone. First announced in December 2010, the program provides scholars with up to ten years of support: five to seven years as NIH tenure-track investigators, followed by three years additional funding at an extramural research institution, pending review, if they choose to leave the NIH. Our goal was to recruit a few scholars each year and have a “steady state” of 15 to 20 scholars on campus. We indeed are now up to 15 scholars, which meets this goal.
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
In the midst of the 1957 Asian flu pandemic, doctors and researchers were understandably focused on treating patients and developing ways to contain the outbreak. It wasn’t until 30 years later that scientists began reporting that women who were pregnant when they caught the virus were more likely to have children who would later be diagnosed with schizophrenia.1 While that relationship remains controversial,2 numerous studies have since linked activation of a pregnant woman’s immune system with an increased risk that her child will develop certain psychiatric disorders, including not just schizophrenia but also autism spectrum disorder and major depressive disorder.3 A new IRP study has now expanded on this work by showing that exposure to higher levels of two immune system molecules in utero can noticeably alter the neurological and cognitive development of young children.4
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Every forty seconds, someone in the United States suffers a stroke, and researchers across the country are hunting for a way to help brain cells survive these traumatic events. A group of IRP researchers recently discovered a promising new tool to aid in this effort. By blocking the action of a brain chemical called monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), the scientists markedly reduced stroke-related brain damage and disability in rats.1
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Like a bear leaves its ominous footprints in the snow, diseases and other biological processes often leave traces throughout our bodies. Recent technological and scientific advances have enabled clinicians to use measurements of these ‘biomarkers’ in their attempts to improve our health. A new study by IRP researchers revealed that patients with a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have higher blood concentrations of certain biomarkers that may foreshadow poor brain health later in life.1
When people with OSA sleep, their throat muscles relax and block their windpipes, preventing proper breathing and often waking them up. As a result, these individuals get lower-quality sleep and their brains receive less oxygen at night.
“The overall idea is that those two conditions are not good for brain health, but nobody had really looked to see if some of the biomarkers we see in brain injury are also common in younger individuals with this type of disordered breathing,” says IRP Lasker Clinical Research Scholar Jessica Gill, Ph.D., R.N., the study’s senior author.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Last month I moderated our annual retreat with the NIH Scientific Directors, those individuals tasked with leading their Institute or Center (IC)-based intramural research program. We were joined by many of the IC Clinical Directors. And this year we decided to do something a little different: listen to a series of talks about exciting, new IRP research.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Yasmine Belkaid, chief of the Mucosal Immunology Section in the NIAID Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, has won the Sanofi–Institut Pasteur 2016 International Mid-Career Award for “outstanding research in the life sciences…contributing to progress in global public health,” announced on December 13, 2016 in Paris.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
As a theoretician in the lab of Dr. Ralph Nossal (NICHD), I use mathematical modeling to study how cells get to places in the body. Most of my time is focused on completing clearly written goals born from project plans. A system of timers, project plans, and goals keeps me on track to do what I need to do so that I can get back to the fun part of my job that I would happily do for free.
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Last month we lost a remarkable investigator, Robert Nussenblatt, M.D., M.P.H., chief of the Laboratory of Immunology at the National Eye Institute (NEI). Bob was a world-renowned expert in uveitis, an inflammatory eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in younger people. He was instrumental in establishing the pathology of and treatment for uveitis. Bob was diagnosed with a metastatic cancer just a few months ago. He remained characteristically optimistic even as his prognosis rapidly grew worse. He died on April 17, 2016, at age 67 with his family by his side. The NIH staff just devastated to hear the news of his death, because so few knew Bob was ill.
Monday, October 19, 2015
At the age of one, Mia started to experience 105-degree fevers for weeks with no explanation. One of her specialists knew there had to be something “bigger” going on and referred Mia to the NIH's Undiagnosed Diseases Program (UDP). The UDP reviewed Mia’s medical records and recommended she see Dr. Dan Kastner.