Ever since 1928 when penicillin mold was discovered to secrete an antibacterial substance, doctors have been developing antibiotics to fight bacterial infections. Now the bacteria are fighting back. But NIH scientists are seeking ways to thwart antibiotic-resistant bacteria, developing new antibiotics that work differently than the older ones, and even trying to understand antibiotic resistance from a historical perspective.
At the foundation of everything that scientists do is the absolute need for the highest integrity in conducting, reporting, and evaluating research activities. At a practical level, this means that every scientist should be his or her own severest critic and not be satisfied with anything less than an honest and complete appraisal of the quality and value of his/her own work.
NIH Scientists Discover Possible Flaw in an ENCODE Trusted Technique
BY REBECCA BURGESS, OD
NIH researchers have found a flaw in an important tool that is supposed to identify certain functional elements of the human genome. The finding, that some proteins bind too briefly with DNA to leave “footprints,” may prompt a rethinking of how best to map regulatory regions in DNA.
Judith “Judie” Walters is a self-described “product of a women’s college”—Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. She was confident she could tackle academic challenges and assume leadership roles in whatever she chose to do. At college she had fallen in love with the emerging field of neuropharmacology—the study of how drugs affect the brain. There was no question in her mind that she would go on to pursue a career in science. But when she applied to graduate school in the late 1960s, one male interviewer asked, “Why do you want to get a Ph.D.? You’re a woman!” Unfazed, Walters went on to earn a Ph.D. in pharmacology from Yale. Today she is chief of the Neurophysiological Pharmacology Section in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Cancers are not created equally. NIH hematopathologist Elaine Jaffe, whose work focuses on cancers of the blood-forming system, knows all too well how subtle variations can have an impact on diagnoses and treatment. Indeed, she has exploited those variations in her search for treatments. In scrutinizing minute differences among malignant lymphomas, Jaffe has conducted pioneering studies related to their classification and has led an international effort for consensus among clinicians and pathologists.
On January 28, 2015, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell spent a few hours at NIH for whirlwind tours of labs and clinics, for meetings with several NIH scientific leaders to get research updates, and as the guest of honor at a town hall meeting in Masur Auditorium (Building 10).
With its emeralds, nanodiamonds, and gold particles sparkling upon countertops and bench tops, NIH’s Imaging and Probe Development Center (IPDC) might be mistaken for a jewelry factory. But what’s being produced here is arguably more valuable than jewels, at least to the scientists that the IPDC serves. The IPDC synthesizes imaging agents—some with names like precious gems—for biomedical research and clinical applications.
NIH investigators have discovered the genomic switches of a blood cell key to regulating the human immune system; developed a blood test for patients with Alzheimer disease who do not respond normally to insulin; purified a protein that is linked to a form of hereditary hearing loss, found that many Americans are at risk for alcohol-medication interactions; and more.
Sallie Rosen Kaplan, who was never able to attend college, was committed to the education of women and helped support biomedical research at NIH. After she died in 1998, her estate established a fellowship, named in her honor, to recruit postdoctoral women to biomedical research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
A Report from the Society for Neuroscience Meeting
BY EMILY PETRUS, NINDS
Scientific disagreements are essential for progress. Hypotheses are rigorously tested, and results are peer reviewed at every step of discovery. But there is a growing concern that many published preclinical studies, especially ones using animal models, cannot be replicated.