Dr. Alberto D. López-Muñoz Pivots to New Research Focus Amidst Pandemic
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Like all virologists, IRP postdoctoral fellow Alberto D. López-Muñoz, Ph.D., knew a global pandemic was sadly inevitable. No one could predict exactly when, but it was just a matter of time until a novel virus would make its way around the globe. Nevertheless, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2, even Dr. López-Muñoz was surprised by how rapidly his career transformed as he switched gears study the novel contagion.
IRP Research Highlights a Novel Target to Stop Viral Infections
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
On July 28, health providers, researchers, patients, advocates, and governments across the globe observe World Hepatitis Day. Like this year’s theme, ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait,’ IRP researchers are wasting no time utilizing the unique resources at the National Institutes of Health to identify innovative ways to combat the virus.
IRP Distinguished Investigator T. Jake Liang, M.D., for example, has focused his life’s work on understanding how hepatitis viruses infect, replicate, and persist in cells. The viruses he studies, hepatitis B and C, together affect more than 10 percent of the worlds’ population and are the most common causes of chronic liver disease and liver cancer. The two viruses were originally discovered in the 1980s by another IRP scientist, Harvey J. Alter, M.D., who shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine for that work in 2020. Nearly three decades later, Dr. Liang’s lab at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) worked with scientists at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) to develop a novel test to screen thousands of molecules using a technology called high-throughput screening, which led to the discovery of several compounds with the potential to block hepatitis C infection.
Kizzmekia Corbett and Barney Graham Recognized for Leading IRP Vaccine Research
Monday, July 12, 2021
At the end of 2019, most people were planning for a typical busy year in 2020. The world was looking forward to the Summer Olympics in Japan, the U.S. was deep into election campaigns, and IRP scientists at NIH’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC) were designing vaccines for several coronaviruses in collaboration with a small biotech company called Moderna.
That all changed on a Saturday morning in early January. Chinese scientists had isolated a new coronavirus that was causing a serious epidemic in China’s Wuhan province and released its genetic sequence to the scientific community around the world. Barney Graham, M.D., Ph.D., director of the VRC’s Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory (VPL), and VRC research fellow Kizzmekia Corbett, Ph.D., dropped everything and immediately began working on a vaccine for the illness that would become known as COVID-19.
Vaccine Research Facilitated Rapid Response to Ebola Outbreak
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
IRP Senior Investigator Heinz Feldmann, M.D., was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) last year for leading the development of the technology that resulted in the first Ebola vaccine approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and used by the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the deadly disease. Election to the NAM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.
As chief of the Laboratory of Virology at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Feldmann’s work focuses on viruses like Ebola that cause hemorrhagic fever, a condition marked by fever, weakness, muscle pain, and sometimes bleeding. These highly contagious viruses require specialized laboratories and strict safety procedures to study.
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.
NIH Researcher’s Pioneering Work Led to Discovery of Hepatitis C
Monday, January 11, 2021
When the phone rang at 4:15 in the morning, IRP senior scientist Harvey J. Alter, M.D., was annoyed. He didn’t answer it. After the third try, he reluctantly got out of bed and took his phone out to the hallway.
“Before I could yell at the person, he said, ‘This is Stockholm calling,’” Dr. Alter recalls. “And then I got stopped in my tracks. Then the moment of disbelief and awe comes over you.”
The man from Stockholm informed Dr. Alter that he had won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his contributions to the discovery of the hepatitis C virus. He shared the prize with Michael Houghton, Ph.D., of the University of Alberta, Canada, and Charles M. Rice, Ph.D., of Rockefeller University in New York.
IRP Leverages Supercomputing to Combat Coronavirus
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Over the past six months, a tiny virus has completely upended life in the United States and many other countries. To combat this microscopic threat, some IRP researchers have turned to a tool the size of a small building.
Biowulf, the NIH’s supercomputer, is supporting more than a dozen different IRP research projects focused on the novel coronavirus. As the world’s most powerful supercomputer solely dedicated to biomedical research, Biowulf allows scientists to analyze data and run simulations at unprecedented speed. Two weeks ago, a blog post described how IRP investigators are using Biowulf to elucidate the structure of the novel coronavirus and simulate how potential therapeutics might interact with it. Picking up where that post left off, this blog will explore the application of Biowulf to important questions about the spread of COVID-19 and the way that its genes, along with our own, might influence its impact on the body.
Biowulf Lends Massive Computing Power to NIH Research Efforts
Monday, August 3, 2020
Nations around the world are bringing every weapon in their arsenals to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic: vaccines, new and existing therapeutics, personal protective equipment like face masks, and enough hand sanitizer to fill the Atlantic Ocean. The NIH community is contributing to this unprecedented effort with a tool that no other research institution can claim: Biowulf, the world’s most powerful supercomputer solely dedicated to biomedical research.
Thursday, July 16, 2020
Flossie Wong-Staal — a pioneering former NIH scientist, a major figure in the discovery of HIV, and the first to clone that virus — died on July 8, 2020. She was 73 years old.
Flossie arrived at the NIH as a Visiting Fellow in 1973 and began working in the National Cancer Institute (NCI) lab of Robert Gallo, who was on the cusp of a remarkable string of discoveries. Flossie, with her Ph.D. from UCLA in molecular biology, became the ideal complement to Bob Gallo's medical-based scientific intuition, and the two would go on to co-author more than 100 journal articles over the next 20 years.
New Studies Will Help Efforts to Contain and Treat COVID-19
Monday, April 20, 2020
Most of the time, science is a slow process, with many experiments taking years to yield results. However, as endeavors like the Manhattan Project have shown, scientists can dramatically accelerate the pace of discovery when necessary. Over the past few months, the novel coronavirus pandemic has spurred a burst of research from scientists around the world, including numerous IRP studies. Read on for a round-up of the latest IRP COVID-19 research and learn how IRP investigators are assisting in the fight against the novel coronavirus.