Along with scientists around the country and the world, the IRP community is mourning the loss of former NIH Director James B. Wyngaarden, M.D, who passed away on June 14. Dr. Wyngaarden served as the 12th NIH Director from 1982 to 1989. During that time, he guided the NIH's instrumental role in responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and initiating the Human Genome Project. He also played a key role in the creation of the NIH Children's Inn.
Expert estimates suggest that more than 5.5 million Americans may have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s, a disease currently ranked as the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Because of the condition’s growing prevalence and profound consequences for patients, understanding Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive decline is an important goal within the Intramural Research Program.
One example of the IRP’s many contributions to the field of Alzheimer’s research is a 2013 study that detected brain changes in older adults who would go on to develop cognitive impairment years before their memory began to fail. This research, led by IRP staff scientist Lori Beason-Held, Ph.D., aimed to understand who might be susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease and what factors contribute to the development of the disease before symptoms appear.
For most people, the arrival of spring time means more time spent outdoors — and greater exposure to nuisances like biting insects and poison ivy that make us itch. New IRP research has revealed a detailed picture of how a particular type of cell causes itching, findings that may ultimately help researchers develop treatments for disorders that cause severe and long-lasting itch.
Any baby born less than 37 weeks after conception is considered premature, but not all premature births have the same root cause. In a new study, IRP researchers have detailed how a particular component of the immune system can trigger premature labor, which could help doctors prevent more preterm births.
The IRP has been home to a number of truly remarkable scientists who spent decades making discoveries and developing technologies that would go on to improve the lives of many. One of these giants was Theodor Kolobow, M.D., who passed away in March of last year at age 87. During his many years at the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), Dr. Kolobow made momentous contributions to the study of our lungs and cardiovascular systems, including advancements in the development of artificial organs and key insights into the biological processes behind acute lung injury.
Dr. Kolobow's legacy lives on not only through his colleagues' fond memories and his lasting influence on medical practice, but also through the NIH's historical archives. Read on for a tour through Dr. Kolobow's life and career, as can only be told by the Office of NIH History.
Your brain cells need plenty of oxygen and nutrients to survive — that is, unless you’re a hibernating ground squirrel. By tapping into the cellular process that keeps these animals’ brains healthy during the long winter months, IRP scientists have discovered a way to increase the survival of neuron-producing stem cells implanted into the brain after a stroke, a development that could one day dramatically improve stroke treatment.
Each year on April 25, we celebrate National DNA Day, which commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 and the discovery of DNA's double helix in 1953. On this day students, teachers, and the public learn more about genetics and genomics. In honor of DNA Day this year, on April 24, the NIH IRP partnered with the NIH's National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) to host a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) with three experts on the many ways that advances in the genomic sciences are changing our lives.
Our immune cells don’t like strangers and attack many organisms and substances that they have never seen before, including harmless ones. In autoimmune diseases, this reaction gets out of hand and our own cells are caught in the crossfire. IRP scientists have found that a new therapeutic compound can curb this sort of autoimmune carnage in the eye.
While the Human Genome Project accomplished a remarkable feat in sequencing all the genes in the human genome, technological limitations still left significant swaths of our genetic blueprints unexplored. Recent advances in DNA sequencing are starting to fill in those gaps, but these new technologies require new computational tools to make sense of the data they generate. That’s where computer scientists like the IRP’s Adam Phillippy, Ph.D., come in.
Your brain is always busy, even when you’re not thinking about anything. Scientists believe the way brain cells communicate with one another when the brain is in that ‘resting state’ might differ in individuals with certain diseases. In a recent study of this idea, IRP researchers found that resting state brain activity could effectively predict the severity of alcohol-related problems.
The IRP is home to some of today’s and tomorrow’s greatest scientific minds. Hundreds of budding biomedical pioneers begin honing their scientific skills here in high school, but very few win distinction as quickly as seventeen-year-old Daniel Schäffer, whose IRP research earned him inclusion among this year’s 40 finalists in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search.
Cancer kills more than half a million men, women, and children each year in the U.S, and chemotherapy is only slightly more discriminating than the disease it treats. As a result, many cancer treatments kill cells throughout the body and cause severe side effects. New IRP research could solve this problem by creating a way to release those toxic compounds only when and where doctors desire.
As Women's History month draws to a close, we’d like to introduce you to some of the IRP researchers who have received the honor of delivering the Anita B. Roberts Lecture. The Anita B. Roberts Lecture Series is organized by the NIH Women Scientist Advisors Committee to highlight outstanding research achievements by female scientists at NIH. The series is supported by the Office of Research on Women’s Health.
Much of human biology is a black box — scientists know the key players and the end results, but not how those outcomes come about. Consequently, it remains a mystery why some medications help patients. A new IRP study has cracked open the black box to reveal how high levels of an inflammatory molecule inhibit blood cell production in some individuals and why a particular medicine helps reverse this life-threatening condition.
Surrounded as we are with incredible technologies like supercomputers, MRI scanners, and smartphones, it's easy to forget that technologies viewed as antiquated today were once considered cutting-edge. Perhaps learning about some of the gadgets and technological concerns from NIH's past will help spark a greater appreciation for the wonderful gizmos that are spurring new scientific discoveries (and adorable cat memes) today.
The NIH’s main campus in Bethesda, Maryland, may have the look and feel of a university campus, but the world-renowned research institution does not grant credentials like an M.D. or Ph.D. Instead, the Graduate Partnerships Program offers graduate students from schools around the world the opportunity to complete research for their Ph.D. dissertations in IRP labs while pursuing advanced degrees from their ‘host’ institutions.
IRP researchers have always worked on the cutting edge of biomedical science, from testing the first successful treatment for childhood schizophrenia to pioneering the first screening technique for HIV. In a new study, an IRP team recently achieved yet another first: simultaneously editing two genetic sites in mice using a brand-new approach called base editing that may prove to be more precise – and therefore safer – than other gene editing methods.