Speaking of Science
Summary: Known for its synergistic approach to biomedical science, the Intramural Research Program (IRP) is the internal research program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). With 1,100 Principal Investigators and more than 4,000 Postdoctoral Fellows conducting basic, translational, and clinical research, the IRP is the largest biomedical research institution on earth. Its mission is science in pursuit of fundamental knowledge about living systems and the application of that knowledge to extend healthy life and reduce illness and disability throughout the world. In the IRP's new podcast, Speaking of Science, you will meet many of the federal researchers working to change lives by advancing all aspects of biomedicine.
In nature, strategic alliances can mean the difference between life and death. For humans, such vital partnerships exist between us and the trillions of microbes we unwittingly host in and on our bodies - together called the microbiome. Dr. Heidi Kong uses genomics to uncover the microbe-host interactions taking place all over our skin. Building on her work and a growing understanding of the skin microbiome, Dr. Ian Myles has developed a bacterial spray that improves eczema, an inflammatory skin disease.
Dr. Peter Bandettini spends a lot of time peering into people's heads. Not because he is clairvoyant, but because he is a biophysicist. Using functional MRI (fMRI), a revolutionary neuroimaging technique he helped pioneer in the '90s, Dr. Bandettini delves into the mysteries of the human brain. He is working to advance fMRI technology to parse out more information about the neural connections that are constantly and spontaneously active even when we think our minds are blank.
Time and again, diversity and inclusion initiatives have proven to boost productivity and overall well-being in the workplace. But despite countless studies and although there have been significant strides in recent history, the struggle to ensure equal opportunity persists. At the NIH, the Scientific Workforce Diversity Office is expanding recruitment and retention with Dr. Hannah Valantine as its first chief officer. She emphasizes how proper resources, mentorship, and community are essential for progress
In this episode, Dr. Richard Childs, a senior investigator and Clinical Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), recounts his experience using the antiviral drug remdesivir to treat patients with COVID-19 in one of the early hot zones of the pandemic. And Dr. Matthew Hall, biology group leader at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), explains the development of remdesivir and its newfound purpose in the battle against the novel coronavirus.
Vaccines protect us from a variety of infectious diseases and have become integral to public health. With a new threat at hand, scientists at the NIH swiftly developed a vaccine candidate against the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The pre-clinical effort was driven in part by Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett. Dr. Corbett is a research fellow in the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Learn more about the VRC at https://www.niaid.nih.gov/about/vrc
According to mental health experts, cooking can reduce anxiety and alleviate mental distress. Dr. Nicole Farmer is a clinical researcher studying many facets of how diet affects human biology and behavior, including the effects of cooking interventions on mental well-being. Dr. Farmer is a staff scientist at the NIH Clinical Center and a researcher at the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities. https://www.nimhd.nih.gov/programs/intramural/research-award/2020-awardees/farmer.html
Radioactive drugs carry radioactive substances that can be engineered to specifically target tumor cells in the body. Dr. Frank Lin is a clinician and researcher who is currently testing whether these drugs can be used to destroy the cells of certain rare cancers in patients for whom surgery is not an option. Dr. Lin is a Lasker Clinical Research Scholar at the National Cancer Institute. https://irp.nih.gov/pi/frank-lin
Serious problems can arise when communication between neurons gets scrambled. Dr. Jerry Yakel is a neurobiologist studying acetylcholine receptors, which allow neurons to turn signals transmitted using the chemical acetylcholine into electrical messages. Learning about these receptors could produce insights into brain diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and epilepsy. Dr. Yakel is a Senior Investigator at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). https://irp.nih.gov/pi/jerrel-yakel
Neuropsychiatric illnesses like Tourette syndrome and schizophrenia have clear effects on behavior, but much less is known about how they relate to changes in the brain. Dr. Armin Raznahan is a child psychiatrist studying how the brains of children and adolescents with such conditions differ from those of healthy individuals. Dr. Raznahan is a Lasker Clinical Research Scholar at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). https://irp.nih.gov/pi/armin-raznahan
Our houses, workplaces, and even the air we breathe are teeming with microbes that can cause severe illness. Dr. Catharine Bosio is an immunologist studying how airborne pathogens infect and alter cells in the lungs. Her work focuses in particular on a bacterium called Francisella tularensis, which causes a life-threatening disease called tularemia. Dr. Bosio is a Senior Investigator at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). https://irp.nih.gov/pi/catharine-bosio
Our blood is made up of a diverse array of different cells, all of which originate from the same source: the ‘hematopoietic’ stem cells in our bone marrow. Dr. Cynthia Dunbar's research into the transplantation and manipulation of hematopoietic stem cells could lead to treatments for a wide variety of diseases caused by a lack of properly functioning blood cells. Dr. Dunbar is a Principal Investigator at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). https://irp.nih.gov/pi/cynthia-dunbar
Dr. Ira Pastan is an NIH Distinguished Investigator (https://irp.nih.gov/pi/ira-pastan) who created a new type of cancer drug, a recombinant immunotoxin, that was approved by the FDA in September 2018 for certain adults with hairy cell leukemia. He is joined by guest host Dr. Michael Gottesman, who, as the NIH Deputy Director for Intramural Research (https://irp.nih.gov/pi/michael-gottesman), leads the scientists and clinicians working within the IRP — while also investigating drug resistance in cancer.
Dori Germolec, Ph.D., is a biologist studying how the chemicals in our environment affect the immune system, including toxic or carcinogenic effects of molds and dietary supplements. From bisphenols and flame retardants to arsenic in the drinking water, we are all exposed to a mixture of compounds on a daily basis. Dr. Germolec leads the Systems Toxicology Group of the NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/tob/systems/index.cfm
Dennis Drayna, Ph.D., is a human geneticist who has identified mutations in several genes that cause communications disorders, particularly stuttering. In this second half of our conversation, we also delve into his lab’s ground-breaking work on how genetic variation affects the sense of taste and preference for menthol in cigarettes. Dr. Drayna is a Senior Investigator at NIH's National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Learn more at https://irp.nih.gov/pi/dennis-drayna
Dennis Drayna, Ph.D., is a human geneticist who has identified mutations in several genes that cause communications disorders, particularly stuttering. With so much to cover, we divided his episode into two parts. Part 1 focuses on Dr. Drayna’s research into the genetics of stuttering, using family- and population-based genetic methods. Dr. Drayna is a Senior Investigator at NIH's National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Learn more at https://irp.nih.gov/pi/dennis-drayna