NIH Study Provides Hope for Diagnosing and Testing the Effectiveness of New Treatments for More Disabling Forms of Multiple Sclerosis
BY CHRISTOPHER THOMAS, NINDS
Aided by a high-powered brain scanner and a 3-D printer, NIH researchers peered inside the brains of hundreds of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and found that dark-rimmed spots that represent ongoing, “smoldering” inflammation, called chronic active lesions, may be a hallmark of more aggressive and disabling forms of the disease.
NIH is well known for solving complex scientific problems that are often considered unsolvable. Yet one of the most critical and perplexing problems we now are facing is how to convince our scientists to use the resources available to them to maximize their well-being and scientific success. I am referring to times in which life events—such as childbirth, adoption, child care, personal or family illness, elder care, and emotional or intellectual burnout affecting yourself or people who work for you—conspire to undermine career aspirations.
“You can’t go to medical school; you’re a woman,” someone told Karen Berman in 1969 when she was an undergrad majoring in biology at the University of Rochester (Rochester, New York). The warning only made her more determined to become a doctor and pursue her dream of helping people suffering from neuropsychiatric diseases. She has gone on to pioneer the use of neuroimaging to map brain structure, function, and neurochemical mechanisms associated with schizophrenia, Williams syndrome, and aging.
A Simpler Way to Make a Conjugate Vaccine for Cholera
BY LAURA STEPHENSON CARTER
Researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases have developed—and patented—an easier, less expensive way to produce a conjugate cholera vaccine against Vibrio cholerae serogroup O1, the globally dominant cause of cholera.
The Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES), which was established in 1959 to create a university-type environment at NIH, is offering new kinds of biomedical courses—onsite and online credit-bearing courses, noncredit workshops, and new opportunities for networking.
Imagine having a brain that enabled you to recall every event of every day in your past. Or a brain that caused you to constantly hear sounds or music, made you feel as if you were dead, or empowered you to feel others’ every sensation and emotion as if they were your own. These are but a few of the startlingly unusual brains that NIH Big Read featured author Helen Thomson writes about in her book, Unthinkable: An Extraordinary Journey through the World’s Strangest Brains (2018).
The article on the “Dermatology Branch at NIH” (NIH Catalyst May–June 2019) was a fantastic summary of the clinical and research advances made by the broad and diverse staff in dermatology at NIH over the last few decades. I was surprised, however, that there was no mention of the talented clinician–scientist Maria Turner.
NIH welcomes Debara L. Tucci as the new director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Tucci, who joined NIH in September 2019, was previously a professor of surgery and the director of the cochlear-implant program in the Division of Head and Neck Surgery and Communication Sciences at Duke University (Durham, North Carolina).
Read about discoveries made by NIH intramural researchers: Experimental RSV vaccine; new “wildling” mouse model mirrors human immune responses; female reproductive cycle affects cocaine craving; air pollution linked to increase in NICU admissions; role of repetitive DNA in tumor evolution; metabolic mechanisms behind insulin secretion; and more.
Approximately half of NIH employees are over the age of 50, and a considerable number of them are caring for aging parents, spouses, or adult children with special needs. Did you know that NIH’s Office of Research Services can help? Most NIHers don’t realize that such help is close at hand.
Every summer NIH labs get a breath of fresh air, vigor, and youthful enthusiasm as summer students from across the country get hands-on experience working alongside intramural researchers. It’s a mutually beneficial endeavor: The budding young scientists get exposed to the discovery process, and their graduate student or postdoc supervisors gain mentoring experience.