On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig exploded, burned, and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, about 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Eleven of the 126 workers on board were killed in what is still considered one of world’s worst environmental disasters and the largest marine oil spill in United States history. The underwater well, almost a mile below the surface, spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil for the next 87 days before it was capped and sealed. Over the next year and a half, the many thousands of people who helped with the cleanup were exposed to toxicants related to crude oil, burning oil, dispersants, and other pollutants. Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) have been assessing the health effects of the oil spill ever since.
Meet cartoonist Elodie Ghedin (NIAID); opera tenor Sergi Ferré (NIDA); rock climber Katie Kindt (NIDCD, pictured); astrophotographer Joseph M. Ziegelbauer (NCI); and mountaineering partners Edward Giniger (NINDS) and Adrian R. Ferré-D’Amaré (NHLBI).
Reflecting on a Landmark Treatment Program for Childhood Leukemia
BY ANINDITA RAY, NINDS
Avery was a pioneer. On July 13, 2012—his 13th birthday—he became the first pediatric patient to be treated with CAR T-cell therapy at NIH. He had acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer. Standard treatments—immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and bone-marrow transplant—had failed him. Desperate to save their son, his parents brought Avery to NIH’s Clinical Center (CC) where scientists from the National Cancer Institute’s Pediatric Oncology Branch tried the then-experimental therapy that involved re-engineering his T cells to attack his cancer. Although Avery is no longer with us, his legacy lives on through the success of POB’s CAR T-cell program that has represented hope for so many families over the past decade.
Nihal Altan-Bonnet’s Research on Host-pathogen Dynamics
Why do outbreaks of gastrointestinal illnesses spread so rapidly among passengers on cruise ships? How can norovirus, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists as a leading cause of acute gastroenteritis, infect nearly 700 million people each year worldwide? Intestinal viruses such as norovirus and rotavirus reproduce in the intestines and are known to spread via the fecal-oral route (when fecal-contaminated food or water is ingested). A trans-NIH team of researchers, led by NHLBI Senior Investigator Nihal Altan-Bonnet, has learned that saliva can be a transmission vehicle, too.