Technique that Provides Near-Atomic Resolution of Protein Structures
BY VIVIANE CALLIER, NCI
In an imaging breakthrough, NIH scientists used cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to view, in near-atomic detail, the architecture of a metabolic enzyme bound to a drug that blocks its activity. This advance provides a new path for deciphering molecular structures and may revolutionize drug development, noted the researchers.
The usually unflappable NIH scientists Minkyung (Min) and Byoung-Joon (B.J.) Song were nervous and paced restlessly outside Lipsett Amphitheater (Building 10) on April 16. They were the lead organizers for an inaugural NIH-Korea symposium that was about to begin, and the 18 guests from South Korea hadn’t arrived. Among the missing guests were the head of the Korea NIH (KNIH), the director of the Korean Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), the president of the Korea National Cancer Center (KNCC), and a representative from the South Korean Embassy. Finally, after a volley of cell-phone calls, the last-minute issues got sorted out and the guests arrived—almost on time, as it turned out—to a warm welcome.
Long-term Planning at the NIH: The End of the Beginning
BY MICHAEL GOTTESMAN, DDIR
Two years ago, the NIH intramural program began the long process of long-term planning, with a 5-10 year event horizon. This activity was driven by the reality of a 30 percent decline in the purchasing power of intramural funds over the past 10 years, a change in the way in which we conduct science, the need for much more workforce diversity, and a need to provide appropriate funds to maintain the NIH Clinical Center as the preeminent clinical research facility in the world.
Hannah Valantine Can Predict Heart-Transplant Rejection Before It Happens
BY BRANDON LEVY, NIMH
It was a chance encounter with a falling apple that inspired Sir Isaac Newton to develop his theory of gravity. A chance encounter inspired NIH cardiologist Hannah Valantine, too. But her encounter wasn’t with a piece of fruit. It was with a 2008 research paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesU.S.A. that inspired a theory about a new way to detect the rejection of transplanted hearts.
“Sex differences in incidence and severity are not the exception—they are in fact the rule,” said Whitehead Institute Director David Page at the 2015 Nirenberg Lecture held at NIH in May. “For every affected man, there are two or three women affected with rheumatoid arthritis. Flip it around and take autism spectrum disorders—for every girl diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, [there are] about five or six boys diagnosed.”
Meet your recently tenured colleagues, several of whom have leadership positions in other institutes: Philip Bourne (NLM-NCBI and OD), pictured; George Koob (NIDA and NIAAA); Xiaoling Li (NIEHS); Jon Lorsch (NICHD and NIGMS); Hannah Valantine (NHLBI and OD).
“Voicing My Choices”: Terminally Ill Teens and Young Adults Express Their Wishes
BY LIAM EMMART, SPECIAL VOLUNTEER
More than 11,000 adolescents and young adults (15 to 34 years old) die each year from cancer and other terminal illnesses. But they usually are not involved in planning their own end-of-life care. Decisions are often left up to grief-stricken parents who have no idea what their children want. And the adolescents and young adults are afraid of hurting their parents, so they may refrain from expressing their wishes.
The team of Diane Poole (NCI) and Amanda Vandeveer (NCI) won first and second places in the fourth annual “In-Focus Safe Workplaces for All” photography contest. First place honored their photo depicting a scientist making a careful inventory of biospecimens (shown); second place went to their photograph of a crew of workers demonstrating hard-hat safety. Dale Lewis (NCI) took third place with his photo of a fireman wearing safety gear.
NIH research highlights: zebrafish role in accelerating the discovery of disease genes in humans; appetite-regulating neural pathway identified; alcohol-use disorder on the rise; potential biomarker for predicting treatment response in vasculitis patients, unraveling the mystery of the tubulin code (shown); and potential treatment for melanoma.
You may know that federal workers are allowed to have personal social-media accounts. But you may not realize that activities associated with your personal account have to comply with certain guidelines. Here's what you need to know.
Building 4 was dedicated recently to honor former U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker Jr.; Alan Alda of M*A*S*H fame uses improvisational theater games to coach scientists on how to become better at communicating about their work.
FROM THE OFFICE OF INTRAMURAL TRAINING AND EDUCATION
2015 Career Symposium
BY REBECCA MESEROLL, NIDDK
There is no such thing as an “alternative career,” a term that is sometimes applied in a derogatory way to any career outside of academia, Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) Director Sharon Milgram reminded the audience that had gathered for the eighth annual NIH Career Symposium on May 15.
NEWS FROM AND ABOUT THE NIH SCIENTIFIC INTEREST GROUPS
Read about three new SIGs—Extracellular Vesicles, Hispanic Health Research, and Inflammatory Disease—and the Natural Products SIG’s summary of lecture by German researcher Ruth Brack-Werner (pictured) on natural products as weapons against lethal viruses.