Once you fall in love with science, you never really fall out of love with it. But what happens to a researcher who has lost that passion for conducting bench science and no longer wants to hold a test tube, write journal articles, or run a lab? Some NIH postdocs audition for other science-related careers via temporary assignments called details. Several share their stories and advice with NIH Catalyst readers.
What’s Happening in NCI’s Storied Labs to the North?
BY TANIA B. LOMBO, NCI
NIH Catalyst readers might be aware that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has research labs in Frederick, Md. But how many know that—or why, for that matter—those labs are inside the gates of an army base? Or that what used to be called simply NCI-Frederick is now a composite of a recently designated national lab, several NCI Center for Cancer Research (CCR) intramural labs, and an administrative entity called the NCI Campus at Frederick?
Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski Talk About Sequestration
BY JOSEPH P. TIANO, NIDDK
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) appeared at an NIH Town Hall Meeting on February 8, to express his support for NIH and its mission, to talk about the state of the federal budget and his hope that sequestration—which took effect on March 1—could be avoided, and to field questions from the audience. And U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) stopped by—for a tour and press conference—on February 20 to express her concerns.
In 2010, a grieving mother whose two young children had died from a rare neurological disorder was determined to see that no other family would suffer as hers had. She turned to NIH, sure that its scientists could decipher the genetic causes of Brown-Vialetto–Van Laere syndrome (BVVL), a disorder characterized by deafness, paralysis, and respiratory failure. Neurogeneticist Andrew Singleton at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) accepted the challenge. After all, he and his colleagues had discovered the genetic mutations responsible for a similar, albeit more common, neurodegenerative disorder—Parkinson disease.
BY JOHN I. GALLIN, DIRECTOR OF THE NIH CLINICAL CENTER
The Clinical Center is opening its doors—and providing access to its special resources—to investigators from academia and industry. A formal funding opportunity for new partnerships between outside and intramural investigators at the CC promises to bring new intellectual excitement to the intramural program while enabling clinical research projects that might not otherwise occur.
Kuan-Teh Jeang, an accomplished virologist and chief of the Molecular Virology Section of the NIAID Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology, died suddenly on January 27 at age 54. He had worked at NIH since 1985. Jeang’s research focused on the gene regulation of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and how human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) causes leukemia.
The U.S. government is considering new regulations for mitigating the potential for harmful misuse of new research findings. In 2012, the government issued a policy that required its funding agencies to review and establish management criteria for life-sciences “dual-use research of concern” (DURC). Now there's a proposal that would require institutions that conduct such research to assume responsibility for overseeing it themselves. The dual dilemma is how to develop procedures that will promote safety and security without discouraging investigators from pursuing potentially useful research.
NIH needs a structured basic-research-training program for physicians who have completed medical training and want to become independent investigators engaged in basic research. Read what Dr. Bolanle Famakin, a stroke neurologist and former NIH clinical fellow, has to say.
Meet your recently tenured colleagues: Laura Elnitski (NHGRI), Caroline Fox (NHLBI, Framingham), Gary Gibbons (NIMHD, NHLBI), Eddie Reed (NIMHD), Sharon Savage (NCI-DCEG), Jyoti Misra Sen (NIA), and Alfonso Silva (NINDS)
NICHD: EARLY STAGES IN MUSCLE FORMATION AND REGENERATION DISCOVERED
NICHD scientists have identified proteins that allow muscle cells in mice to form from the fusion of the early-stage cells that give rise to the muscle cells. The findings have implications for understanding how to repair and rehabilitate muscle tissue and for understanding other processes involving cell fusion, such as when a sperm fertilizes an egg, when viruses infect cells, or when specialized cells dissolve and assimilate bone tissue in order to repair and maintain bones.