NIH Researchers Tackling the Problem on All Fronts
BY SARAH RHODES, NIMH
NIH has conducted and supported autism research for more than 20 years. Although the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is the lead institute for autism research—and the largest single source of funding for autism research in the United States—other institutes are doing autism research as well. Here we highlight a few of the NIH intramural scientists who are helping to assemble the autism puzzle.
When it comes to interpreting the results of virtual colonoscopies, radiologists “have a hard time taking the advice of computer aids,” said senior investigator Ronald Summers, chief of the NIH Clinical Center’s Clinical Image Processing Service. Computer-aided-detection (CAD) technology is more effective than humans at finding tiny bumps on the scan that represent polyps, but it identifies mock polyps, too. Radiologists have a hard time telling the difference between the true and false findings. Summers suspected perceptual errors were to blame and that CAD systems needed to be improved. He used crowdsourcing to recruit participants for his study.
Anand Swaroop Seeks Therapies for Retinal Diseases
BY HEATHER DOLAN
“People over 40 are really scared of going blind,” National Eye Institute (NEI) Senior Investigator Anand Swaroop told the scientific directors at their meeting on March 7, 2012. “After cancer and heart disease, blindness is probably the most feared of all.”
At the TEDMed conference, held in April in Washington, D.C., NIH Director Francis Collins and singer-songwriter Jill Sobule, entertained the audience with a twangy number entitled “Disease Don’t Care.” Then Collins turned serious, addressing the need to shorten the timeline between the acquisition of fundamental knowledge about disease and its application. He was also joined onstage by 15-year-old Sam Berns, who shared his experiences as a progeria patient and a clinical trials volunteer.
NIH Postdoctoral Fellow Combines International Interests with Neurology
BY MONIKA DESHPANDE, NCI
Don’t let her ready smile and unassuming persona fool you. Postdoctoral fellow Tara Kimbason (née Kim) has a steely determination and an ambitious goal … to find a way to provide medical care to underserved people throughout the developing world.
With traffic around the NIH Bethesda campus getting worse by the day, biking to work could be a less stressful alternative to navigating rush hour. Only trouble is, there aren’t enough conveniently located, sheltered bike-parking areas, and there’s limited access to places where people can change, shower, and store their gear. NIH’s Office of Research Facilities (ORF) is coming to the rescue and is taking steps to improve the bicycle commuting experience by providing more accessible bike parking as well as better shower and locker facilities.