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.
Approach Could Protect or Even Regenerate Neurons in Eye and Spinal Cord
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
At the end of Aesop’s fable The Lion and the Mouse, the titular rodent saves his much larger friend from a hunter’s trap. Just like Aesop, scientists know well that even something tiny and often overlooked can lend a helping hand. Extremely short strands of genetic material called microRNAs, for instance, could make for useful therapeutic targets for glaucoma and other degenerative eye ailments, according to new IRP research.
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.
New Study Hones in on Causes of Hearing and Balance Problems
Tuesday, August 3, 2021
The US military presence in Afghanistan is coming to an end, yet the soldiers involved in the conflict will continue to experience its repercussions well into the future. Among other health effects, encountering the explosive devices widely deployed in the conflict can cause long-lasting hearing and balance difficulties. A recent collaboration between IRP researchers and scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research has produced important insights into the biological basis of those disabilities, which could eventually lead to better methods of preventing and treating them.
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.
Globe-Spanning Collaboration Connected ‘Viking Gene’ to Dementia and ALS
Monday, June 21, 2021
June was an important month in the life of baseball great Lou Gehrig. It was the month he was born and the month he was first picked for the Yankees’ starting lineup. Sadly, it was also the month in 1939 when he was diagnosed with the neurological disease that bears his name — Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — and the month he died of that disease two years later. It is appropriate then that ALS Awareness Day is observed on June 21 as a day of hope for those searching for effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure.
IRP senior investigator Bryan J. Traynor, M.D., Ph.D., a neurologist at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), is one of the people leading that search. Best known for his work unraveling the genetic causes of ALS and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), he led an international consortium of researchers that uncovered a mutation on chromosome 9 that is the most common ‘familial’ cause of both ALS and FTD. In fact, this mutation, which disrupts the function of the C90RF72 gene, is responsible for 40 percent of all familial cases of ALS and FTD in European and North American populations, meaning cases in which a family member also has the disease. The discovery, published in 2011, revolutionized the scientific understanding of neurodegenerative diseases and the relationships between them. It also suggested a potential target for future gene therapies.
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.
Scientists-in-Training Impress at Virtual Event
Monday, May 10, 2021
Despite the challenges of working during a global pandemic, IRP scientists continue to make groundbreaking discoveries and mentor the next generation of researchers. This includes the hundreds of recent college graduates conducting research in NIH labs through the Postbaccalaureate IRTA program. On April 28, 29, and 30, many of these budding scientists presented the fruits of their efforts at this year’s virtual Postbac Poster Day. Read on to learn about a small sampling of the scientific strides NIH’s postbacs are making.
New Approach Could Enhance Existing Treatments for Debilitating Genetic Disease
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
The prospect of editing our DNA to treat genetic diseases may have captured the imaginations of scientists and the public in recent years, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways of combating these illnesses. Many promising therapies act not on DNA itself but rather on DNA’s often overlooked cousin, RNA. For instance, experiments in cells performed by IRP researchers have shown promising results or a RNA-targeting therapeutic developed to treat the debilitating genetic disease spinal muscular atrophy.
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.