In a move to re-engineer the process of translating scientific discoveries into new drugs, diagnostics, and devices, NIH has established the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). NCATS will serve as the nation’s hub for catalyzing innovations in translational science, will work closely with partners in the regulatory, academic, nonprofit, and private sector, and will strive to overcome hurdles that slow the development of effective treatments and cures.
Wataru Sakamoto was inserting a long needle into the gut of one of his cancer patients to drain some fluid at the moment the 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit in Japan on March 11, 2011. The quake lasted for a six-minute eternity, moved the entire island eight feet to the east, and culminated in a devastating tsunami that wiped out whole towns and took more than 15,000 lives. Then came the radiation horror as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility began to fail a few days later, spewing radioactivity across the region. Sakamoto has since brought his family to the U.S. and is working in an NIH lab.
As an avid coffee drinker, Serena Dudek looks forward to the bursts of energy that her three cups of java provide each day. It turns out that her regular caffeine consumption may bring an added benefit, strengthening the neural connections in one small area of her brain.
Twenty-five years ago, the NIH intramural community began setting aside one day a year to share and celebrate research. Today, NIH celebrates intramural research in a weeklong festival. But the driving force behind the Research Festival is much the same. “Many of us have little sense of the common ground we share,” said Deputy Director for Intramural Research Michael Gottesman in his introduction to the plenary session. “Bringing everyone together is an opportunity to share that common ground.”
Welcome to the gap . . . in how we visualize and understand biological structures, that is. Classical methods of determining biological structures have given us beautiful data about the very small (small, well-ordered protein and RNA molecules) and the very large (whole cells or organelle structures). But many biological mysteries surround the large, dynamic protein assemblies that are responsible for complex biological processes and yet cannot be seen by the classical methods of structure determination.
Learn more about how proteins are assembled, and read snippets from other symposia that took place at the 2011 Research Festival. Topics included transcriptomes, stem cells, immune targeted therapies, and neural circuits gone awry.
Baruj Benacerraf (died on August 2, 2011, at 90), who was chief of NIAID’s Laboratory of Immunology from 1968 to 1970, shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1980 for discoveries concerning genetically determined structures on the cell surface that regulate immunological reactions. A significant portion of his Nobel Prize-winning work was performed at NIH. After leaving NIH, he led the department of pathology at Harvard Medical School and was also president of the Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.