Pioneering Genetic Epidemiologist Takes a Global Approach to Fighting Health Disparities
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
IRP distinguished investigator Charles Rotimi, Ph.D., was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences this year in recognition of his pioneering work exploring the health implications of genetic diversity in populations with African ancestry, as well as for globalizing the study of genomics, particularly in African nations. Dr. Rotimi joined NIH in 2008 as the founding director of the Intramural Center for Genomics and Health Disparities in the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), which was later renamed the Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health, in part to reflect Dr. Rotimi’s globe-spanning research programs.
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.
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.
Study in Mice Suggests a New Approach to Treating Periodontal Disease
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Our teeth are extremely tough, but neglectful oral hygiene practices and certain genetic disorders can still massively damage them. If this deterioration becomes bad enough, teeth can be permanently lost. In a recent study, IRP researchers identified a promising new strategy for helping the body regenerate a part of the tooth that is particularly difficult to repair.
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.
IRP Research Leads to First FDA-Approved Therapy for Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Skin cancers are the most common cancer in the U.S., affecting as many as five million people every year. Yet the rarest of these cancers is also one of the deadliest. Merkel cell carcinoma affects about 3,000 Americans each year, and until recently a lack of effective treatments meant only half of patients survived five years or longer after diagnosis. The median survival was nine months.
This bleak outlook changed radically in 2017 with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of a new immunotherapy drug called avelumab. Developed through a collaboration between IRP researchers and the pharmaceutical company EMD Serono, Inc., and marketed as Bavencio, avelumab was the first treatment approved specifically for Merkel cell carcinoma.
Findings Point to Approaches for Staving Off Health Problems in Infected Individuals
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Over the four decades since it mysteriously began destroying the immune systems of Americans in New York and California, HIV has proven to be a frustratingly wily opponent for scientists. Even today, when treatments can fully suppress the virus in infected individuals, it continues to harm their health. A new IRP study has identified several ways dormant HIV might chronically stimulate the immune system, suggesting potential avenues for preventing the health problems that causes.
Decades Later, IRP Researcher’s Discovery Is Used in Labs Around the World
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
National DNA Day, held on April 25, commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 and the day in 1953 when a research team led by Drs. James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin published their groundbreaking paper on the structure of DNA in the journal Nature.
The mapping of DNA’s structure opened the door to modern genetics and our current understanding of how DNA affects the health and survival of all living things. Since then, there have been numerous additional major leaps forward in the field of genetics. Among them was the discovery of a universal hallmark of DNA damage by IRP Scientist Emeritus William Bonner, Ph.D., an advance that revolutionized the study of how cells sense and repair genetic defects. Dr. Bonner’s findings paved the way for a deeper understanding of cell biology, as well as clinical advances for treating cancer and for assessing risks from radiation in the environment.
Studies of Blood Stem Cells Stimulate Pioneering Therapeutic Approaches
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
The National Academy of Medicine (NAM), first established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences as the Institute of Medicine (IOM), is comprised of more than 2,000 elected members from around the world who provide scientific and policy guidance on important matters relating to human health. Election to the NAM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have not only made critical scientific discoveries but have also demonstrated a laudable commitment to public service.
IRP Distinguished Investigator Cynthia E. Dunbar, M.D., was elected to the NAM last year for her pioneering research into hematopoietic stem cells, the cells in bone marrow that develop into oxygen-carrying red blood cells, infection-fighting white blood cells, and clot-forming platelets. Her work has led to valuable insights into the production of those blood cells, called hematopoiesis, and its role in human health. Her discoveries have also resulted in new approaches to treat disease by improving stem cell functioning or manipulating stem cells with gene therapy.
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.