NIH Pain Research Center Shines Light on a Common and Complex Ailment
Monday, April 25, 2022
At one time or another, practically everyone has had a headache, stubbed their toe, or scorched their mouth on a hot slice of pizza, making pain one of the few experiences that essentially all people share. Despite its everyday nature, however, pain remains extremely mysterious. Even more enigmatic is chronic pain, which may not even stem from a clearly defined source yet affects more than a fifth of American adults.
Given the near-universality of pain and its huge social and economic burden, it’s no surprise that many researchers at NIH study it. Yet, prior to 2019, there was no central, shared entity in the NIH’s Intramural Research Program that united the many scientists performing this important work. That was the year NIH’s Pain Research Center was established, with the help of funding from the NIH Director’s Challenge Innovation Awards.
IRP Scientists Keep it Short and Sweet in Competition’s Final Round
Wednesday, July 7, 2021
Science is so closely associated with long, jargon-laden lectures that scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson and the IRP’s own Anthony Fauci have become celebrities for their ability to explain complex scientific concepts in a succinct and understandable way. On June 25, 17 postbacs, graduate students, and postdocs from across NIH showcased their own communication chops in the final round of the IRP’s annual Three-Minute Talks (TmT) competition.
Human and Animal Studies Point to New Treatment Strategy
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Interest in the low-carb ‘ketogenetic’ diet has exploded in recent years, with legions of enthusiasts jumping on the bandwagon. The popular dietary regimen has even caught the attention of scientists seeking new treatments for an array of health conditions. For instance, a recent IRP study suggests that a ketogenic diet might make it easier for people with alcohol use disorder to stop drinking.
New Receptors and Radioactively Labeled Molecules Could Provide Useful Tools for Research and Medicine
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Genetically modifying neurons to enable scientists and clinicians to influence brain activity probably sounds like the stuff of science fiction. However, the technology has existed for more than a decade, allowing scientists to make important leaps in understanding how neurons communicate with one another in healthy individuals and those with psychological and neurological conditions. What’s more, recent improvements to these tools developed by researchers led by IRP investigator Mike Michaelides, Ph.D., may allow neurologists to use them to deliver drugs to just the right brain cells to treat those ailments effectively without the side effects caused by current treatments.
Hundreds of Young Researchers Present Their Work Online
Wednesday, May 6, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the way scientists are doing their work. Nevertheless, scientific research is a highly collaborative and interactive enterprise, so it remains essential for researchers to share and discuss their ideas and discoveries.
Every spring, the NIH’s Postbac Poster Day offers recent college graduates participating in the NIH’s Postbaccalaureate IRTA program the chance to show off the fruits of their labors and talk about their projects with both their fellow postbacs and the NIH’s many seasoned scientific veterans. Due to the need to maintain social distancing, the NIH's Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) went through considerable effort to move this year’s Postbac Poster Day to an online forum. The OITE staff's hard work paid off handsomely, with more than 870 postbacs presenting their research via WebEx on April 28, 29, and 30. Keep reading for a few examples of the fascinating scientific questions NIH’s latest crop of postbacs has been investigating.
Five Questions with Dr. Catherine Bushnell
Monday, September 9, 2019
Yoga is all the rage these days, with millions of people taking part in the practice for relaxation, meditation, and increasing flexibility and muscle strength. However, the benefits of yoga go beyond what most might think. In fact, the mind-body practice of yoga could have a significant impact on the lives of those living with chronic pain, a condition that affects tens of millions of Americans.
In the past, doctors often prescribed opioids to treat chronic pain. However, research has shown that people with chronic pain have anatomical and neurochemical alterations in the brain that make them less responsive to opioids. In addition, both the medical and political systems are currently contending with a public health crisis stemming from the over-use of opioid pain medications. As a result, researchers have been working to identify ways to better manage chronic pain, particularly without the use of medication.
Neuroimaging Could Help Tailor Treatment for Amputees
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Our brains frequently cause us to perceive things that are not real, from high-pitched ringing in an empty room to dancing spots in our vision after staring at a bright light. Even more strangely, people with phantom limb syndrome feel sensations, including pain, in arms and legs that they no longer have. New IRP research into the brain mechanisms underlying phantom limb pain could help hone treatment for individuals living with the condition.
Five Questions With Dr. Jessica Gill
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Each year, millions of Americans suffer sports-related concussions, and the number of youth suffering from these traumatic brain injuries has been rising. Blows to the head are common in sports such as football and hockey, and when these forces are strong enough to cause a concussion, they can harm the brain and impair cognitive functioning. Although concussions occur in staggering numbers, scientists do not fully understand what happens to the brain at the time of concussion or during the recovery period. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not trying.
IRP Investigator Bevil Conway Discusses the Science Behind the Headlines
Monday, July 15, 2019
What started as a friendly bet between investigators soon produced a major scientific discovery that calls into question the long-standing notion that non-human primates serve as accurate models for the way human brains function. The study, conducted by IRP investigator Bevil Conway, Ph.D., made headlines recently with reports in outlets such as NPR and U.S. News and World Report. We’re going Behind the Headlines with Dr. Conway to dive deeper into the story, understand the significance of his findings, and see where his work could lead.
A Conversation with Dr. Lori Beason-Held
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Expert estimates suggest that more than 5.5 million Americans may have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s, a disease currently ranked as the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Because of the condition’s growing prevalence and profound consequences for patients, understanding Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive decline is an important goal within the Intramural Research Program.
One example of the IRP’s many contributions to the field of Alzheimer’s research is a 2013 study that detected brain changes in older adults who would go on to develop cognitive impairment years before their memory began to fail. This research, led by IRP staff scientist Lori Beason-Held, Ph.D., aimed to understand who might be susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease and what factors contribute to the development of the disease before symptoms appear.