Monday, September 11, 2017
Dr. James Ostell, NCBI Director
National Library of Medicine (NLM) Director Patricia Flatley Brennan, R.N., Ph.D., has appointed James M. Ostell, Ph.D., as the director of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of NLM at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Ostell has been with NCBI since it was established by Congress in 1988, and has helped shape it into one of the most widely used biomedical resources in the world.
NCBI supports and maintains a series of biomedical databases, including PubMed, GenBank, BLAST, Entrez, RefSeq, dbSNP, PubMed Central and dbGaP. It also provides researchers with access to analysis and computing tools to better understand genes and their role in health and disease.
“We are fortunate to have Dr. Ostell as director of NCBI,” said Dr. Brennan. “He brings a wealth of insight and experience, as well as vision, creativity, and a deep commitment to public service. He holds the respect of the entire NCBI workforce, and has shepherded NCBI into a model organization that embraces discovery and excellence in technical development. His appointment will ensure the continued preeminence of NCBI and maintain its outstanding record of achievement.”
Prior to his appointment as NCBI Director, Dr. Ostell served as chief of the NCBI Information Engineering Branch. In that role, he was responsible for designing, developing, building and deploying production resources at NCBI.
In 2007, Dr. Ostell was elected to the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine). In 2011, he was named an NIH Distinguished Investigator, an honor reserved for NIH's most distinguished senior investigators at the highest level of career accomplishment.
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Two scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will receive the 2017 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award for their significant research leading to the development of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines. The award is the country’s most prestigious biomedical research prize, and will be presented to John T. Schiller, Ph.D., of NCI’s Center for Cancer Research (CCR), and Douglas R. Lowy, M.D., also in CCR and acting director of NCI. NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Lowy’s and Dr. Schiller’s collaborative work to understand and prevent HPV infection has led to the approval of three preventive HPV vaccines by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Caption: John T. Schiller, Ph.D. (left), and Douglas R. Lowy, M.D., of the National Cancer Institute will receive the 2017 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award.
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Tick saliva molecule blocks process in human cells, nonhuman primates.
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health have expanded the understanding of how chronic inflammation and persistent immune activation associated with HIV infection drive cardiovascular disease risk in people living with HIV. People living with HIV are up to twice as likely to experience heart attacks, strokes and other forms of cardiovascular disease as people who do not have the virus, even when HIV infection is well-controlled with the use of antiretroviral therapy.
The scientists found that certain immune cells proliferate in people living with HIV, expressing proteins and triggering inflammation and abnormal blood clotting. These processes can be blocked in cells and in nonhuman primate models with an experimental drug.
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Study from NIH and other institutions may help improve prenatal genetic screening
Extending noninvasive prenatal screening to all 24 human chromosomes can detect genetic disorders that may explain miscarriage and abnormalities during pregnancy, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions. Because of the way data have been analyzed, typical genomic tests performed during pregnancy have targeted extra copies of chromosomes 21, 18 and 13, but rarely evaluated all 24 chromosomes. The study findings, which appear in the August 30 issue of Science Translational Medicine, may ultimately improve the accuracy of these tests, including by explaining why some give false-positive results.
Women often request noninvasive screening tests to detect genetic conditions. These tests, however, typically focus only on Down syndrome and other common trisomies. A trisomy is a condition in which there are three instances of a certain chromosome instead of the standard two.
Conceptual image of a cell karyotype exhibiting trisomy, three copies of one chromosome. Darryl Leja, NHGRI.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
The National Research Corporation (NRC) Health has selected the NIH Clinical Center as a recipient of its 2017 Excellence Award, having earned the highest ratings in overall satisfaction by patients and their families in the category of Emotional Support, among 426 eligible facilities. Each year, NRC Health recognizes top-performing hospitals and health systems that have exhibited an exceptional commitment to understanding each individual patient’s complete care journey.
“Compassion for our patients and their families is one of our guiding principles,” said NIH Clinical Center Chief Executive Officer James K. Gilman, M.D. “Our staff understand that as a world class research facility we must provide the very best in safe, high quality patient-centric care and support. This is a particularly meaningful award in which every Clinical Center employee will take great pride.”
Friday, August 25, 2017
Researchers from the NIH Clinical Center Rehabilitation Medicine Department have created the first robotic exoskeleton specifically designed to treat crouch (or flexed-knee) gait in children with cerebral palsy by providing powered knee extension assistance at key points during the walking cycle.
Crouch gait, the excessive bending of the knees while walking, is a common and debilitating condition in children with cerebral palsy. Despite conventional treatments (including muscle injections, surgery, physical therapy, and orthotics), crouch gait can lead to a progressive degeneration of the walking function, ultimately resulting in the loss of walking ability in roughly half of adults with the disorder.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
National Institutes of Health scientists have filled a research gap by developing a laboratory model to study ticks that transmit flaviviruses, such as Powassan virus. Powassan virus was implicated in the death of a New York man earlier this year. The unusual model involves culturing organs taken from Ixodes scapularis ticks and then infecting those organ cultures with flaviviruses, according to researchers at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, part of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The researchers say the culture model will greatly increase knowledge about how flaviviruses infect ticks and could become a tool to evaluate medical countermeasures against tick-borne viruses.
Caption: Langat virus infection (bright green) in the tick midgut (black) is shown at six days after infection in this fluorescence image.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
NIH researchers reveal novel insights into how sex-specific reproductive systems arise.
A protein called COUP-TFII determines whether a mouse embryo develops a male reproductive tract, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and their colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. The discovery, which appeared online August 18 in the journal Science, changes the long-standing belief that an embryo will automatically become female unless androgens, or male hormones, in the embryo make it male.
Humphrey Hung-Chang Yao, Ph.D., head of the Reproductive Developmental Biology Group at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH, studies how male and female mouse embryos acquire their sex-specific reproductive systems. He said all early-stage mammalian embryos, regardless of their sex, contain structures for both male and female reproductive tracts. For a mouse or human to end up with the reproductive tract of one sex after birth, the other tract has to disintegrate.
The normal female mouse embryo (top) contains only the female reproductive tract, highlighted in pink. The female mouse embryo without COUP-TFII (bottom) has both male, in blue, and female reproductive tracts.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Previously unknown category of neuron responds to pulling of a single hair.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health have identified a class of sensory neurons (nerve cells that electrically send and receive messages between the body and brain) that can be activated by stimuli as precise as the pulling of a single hair. Understanding basic mechanisms underlying these different types of responses will be an important step toward the rational design of new approaches to pain therapy. The findings were published in the journal Neuron.
“Scientists know that distinct types of neurons detect different types of sensations, such as touch, heat, cold, pain, pressure, and vibration,” noted Alexander Chesler, Ph.D., lead author of the study and principal investigator with the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health’s (NCCIH) Division of Intramural Research (DIR). “But they know more about neurons involved with temperature and touch than those underlying mechanical pain, like anatomical pain related to specific postures or activities.”
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
After herpesviruses infect a cell, their genomes are assembled into specialized protein structures called nucelosomes. Many cellular enzyme complexes can modulate these structures to either promote or inhibit the progression of infection. Scientists studying how one of these complexes (EZH2/1) regulated herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection unexpectedly found that inhibiting EZH2/1 suppressed viral infection. The research group, from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health, then demonstrated that EZH2/1 inhibitors also enhanced the cellular antiviral response in cultured cells and in mice.
Once a person has been infected with a herpesvirus, the virus persists in a latent form, sometimes reactivating to cause recurrent disease. Two-thirds of the global population are infected with HSV-1, and at least 500 million are infected with HSV-2, according to the World Health Organization.
The spread of herpes simplex virus infection (green, top) is suppressed in cells treated with EZH2/1 inhibitors (GSK126 or GSK343).