Study Suggests New Treatment Approach for Deadly Lung Infection
Oxygen is, quite literally, the air we breathe (or, more accurately, 21 percent of it). However, just as oxygen in the air can turn a handy garden tool into a useless hunk of rust, certain unstable, oxygen-containing molecules in our bodies can wreak havoc on our cells. According to new IRP research, revving up cellular systems that prevent this kind of damage could significantly improve outcomes for people with tuberculosis.
IRP Researchers Are Peering Into the Brain to Learn Why Opioid Drugs Are So Hard to Quit
The ancient Egyptians, despite their significant anatomical knowledge, thought the heart was the seat of intelligence. Over the millennia, that view changed as philosophers and scientists alike came to appreciate the extraordinary role of the brain. It is partly thanks to them that we celebrate Brain Awareness Week every March. In honor of this observance, we took the opportunity to talk with IRP senior investigator Yihong Yang, Ph.D., and postdoctoral fellow Ida Fredriksson, Ph.D., Pharm.D., about their investigation into how cravings for opioids build during a period of prolonged abstinence, often leading to relapse.
Event Includes In-Person Presentations for First Time Since 2020
Three years after COVID-19 dramatically changed the way scientists and many others work, much of life in the NIH IRP has begun to resemble the way things were in February of 2020. This includes the return of in-person scientific poster sessions like the one that took place on February 16 as part of the 19th annual NIH Graduate Student Research Symposium. Nearly 130 graduate students conducting their Ph.D. research in IRP labs as part of NIH’s Graduate Partnership Program presented their progress at that poster session and its virtual counterpart held February 15.
The two poster sessions made it clear that IRP graduate students are essential contributors to the life-changing discoveries made at NIH, from using geckos to learn about human eye diseases to investigating how the immune system combats infectious invaders to exploring ways to improve cancer treatment. Keep reading to learn about some of the bright scientists-in-training who showed off their work during the two-day event.
IRP Research Hastens Development of First Treatment for Genetic Muscle Condition
An old medical adage warns doctors that when they hear hoofbeats, they should first think of horses, not zebras. After all, when someone comes into the hospital with a cough, the most likely explanation is something mundane like the flu. However, some patients truly are medical zebras, affected by a disease that afflicts very few others.
IRP senior investigator Marjan Huizing, Ph.D., has learned quite a bit about those zebras since arriving at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) as a postdoctoral fellow in 1998. To help commemorate Rare Disease Day today, Dr. Huizing spoke with the “I Am Intramural” blog about her research on an array of ailments linked to a small sugar molecule called sialic acid, some of which are extremely rare.
Findings Could Explain Why Caffeine Exposure In-Utero Increases Kids’ Risk for Obesity
Between books, the media, and well-meaning friends and relatives, new parents are inundated with advice about how to set their kids up for a happy and healthy future. However, what parents do before their children are even born can also have a huge impact on how they turn out. For instance, new IRP research suggests that a pregnant woman’s caffeine consumption can rewire her baby’s brain in ways that put the child at increased risk for obesity later in life.
IRP Researchers Discover ‘Coupled-Clock’ That Controls Heart Rhythms
Like so much about our lives, our hearts slow down as we age. While this slowing is natural, a heartbeat that is too sluggish can lead to heart failure, irregular heartbeats known as arrhythmias, and other problems. IRP senior investigator Edward G. Lakatta, M.D., has changed the paradigm in our understanding of how our hearts keep the beat across our life spans — and what happens when they don’t.
Diversity is a cornerstone of innovation and scientific discovery. Through initiatives like its Distinguished Scholars Program and the Independent Research Scholars Program, the IRP hopes to recruit more scientists from groups historically under-represented in biomedical research, including African American and other Black researchers. As the IRP works towards a more diverse future, let’s celebrate Black History Month by delving into the archives of the Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum to learn about some of the Black scientists who have made important contributions to an array of IRP discoveries.
A Tribute to Drs. James M. Phang and John J. DiGiovanna
The IRP is deeply saddened by the recent passing of two members of its community, James "Jim" M. Phang, M.D., and John J. DiGiovanna, M.D. Dr. Phang passed away on January 29 after a months-long struggle with esophageal cancer. Dr. DiGiovanna died on February 6, more than two years after his diagnosis of metastatic pancreatic cancer.
IRP Study Points to the Biological Roots of Physical Activity’s Benefits
British science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once wrote that, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” While not exactly a “technology,” exercise has such wide-ranging health benefits that it could understandably be mistaken for magic. Still, scientists persist in investigating precisely why physical activity is so good for us. Recently, a small IRP study showed that exercise training can help reduce the debilitating fatigue that often accompanies the autoimmune disease known as lupus, and also illuminated some of the underlying mechanisms that may lead to those benefits.
IRP Research Identifies a Tantalizing Target for Cancer Immunotherapy
February 4 is World Cancer Day, a time to mark international efforts to prevent, detect, and treat cancer. Immunotherapy, one of the most significant advances in treating cancer, was pioneered here at NIH more than 30 years ago. Today, IRP senior investigator Claudia M. Palena, Ph.D., is pushing cancer immunotherapy forward with the discovery of a novel target for cancer vaccines.
This page was last updated on Friday, January 14, 2022