Helium: An Abundant History and a Shortage Threatening Scientific Tools
Most of us know helium as the gas that makes balloons float, but the second element on the periodic table does much more than that. Helium pressurizes the fuel tanks in rockets, helps test space suits for leaks, and is important in producing components of electronic devices. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines that take images of our internal organs can’t function without helium. And neither can nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers that researchers use to determine the structures of proteins—information that’s important in the development of medications and other uses. Helium&rsq...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - May 27, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Tools and Techniques Cool Tools/Techniques Scientific Process Source Type: blogs

Reusable Disinfectant Developed from Mussel “Glue”
Mimicking mussels’ natural “glue” could have multiple benefits. Many species have developed unique adaptations to help them thrive in their environments, and scientists in a field called biomimicry use these examples as the basis for tools to help humans. Biomimicry researchers have made a wide range of products, from climbing pads modeled after gecko feet to a faster, sharp-nosed bullet train based on the beak of the kingfisher bird. The animal kingdom also provides inspiration for biomedical products. For instance, scientists at Michigan Technological University in Houghton discovered that a natural &l...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - May 20, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Susan Johnson Tags: Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Cool-creatures Research-organisms Wound-healing Source Type: blogs

Scientist Interview: Exploring the Promise of RNA Switches with Christina Dawn Smolke
Whether animals are looking for food or mates, or avoiding pathogens and predators, they rely on biosensors—molecules that allow them to sense and respond to their environments. Christina Dawn Smolke, Ph.D. , a professor of bioengineering at Stanford University in California, focuses her research on creating new kinds of biosensors to receive, process, and transmit molecular information. Her lab has built RNA molecules, or switches, that can alter gene expression based on biochemical changes they detect. In a video interview, Dr. Smolke describes the way RNA switches act like light switches, turning gene...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - May 13, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Tools and Techniques Cool Tools/Techniques RNA Source Type: blogs

The Maternal Magic of Mitochondria
Mitochondria (purple) in a rodent heart muscle cell. Credit: Thomas Deerinck, National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research. Mitochondria (mitochondrion in singular) are indispensable. Every cell of our bodies, apart from mature red blood cells, contains the capsule-shaped organelles that generate more than 90 percent of our energy, which is why they’re often called “the powerhouse of the cell.” They produce this energy by forming adenosine triphosphate (ATP), our cells’ most common energy source. But mitochondria also support cells in other ways. For example, they help cells maintain the cor...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - May 6, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Cells Cellular Processes Source Type: blogs

The Science of Infectious Disease Modeling
What Is Computer Modeling and How Does It Work? Recent news headlines are awash in references to “modeling the spread” and “flattening the curve.” You may have wondered what exactly this means and how it applies to the COVID-19 pandemic. Infectious disease modeling is part of the larger field of computer modeling. This type of research uses computers to simulate and study the behavior of complex systems using mathematics, physics, and computer science. Each model contains many variables that characterize the system being studied. Simulation is done by adjusting each of the variables, alone or in ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - April 29, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Injury and Illness Tools and Techniques Computational Biology Cool Tools/Techniques Diseases Modeling Source Type: blogs

Cool Images: The Hidden Beauty Inside Plants
Spring brings with it a wide array of beautiful flowers, but the interior structures of plants can be just as stunning. Using powerful microscopes, researchers can peek into the many molecular bits and pieces that make up plants. Check out these cool plant images from our Image and Video Gallery that NIGMS-funded scientists created while doing their research. Credit: Arun Sampathkumar and Elliot Meyerowitz, California Institute of Technology. In plants and animals, stem cells can transform into a variety of different cell types. The stem cells at the growing tip of this Arabidopsis plant will soon become flo...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - April 15, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Pamela Morrison Tags: Molecular Structures Tools and Techniques Cool Images Cryo-Electron Microscopy Source Type: blogs

All About Grants: Basics 101
Note to our Biomedical Beat readers: Echoing the sentiments NIH Director Francis Collins made on his blog, NIGMS is making every effort during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep supporting the best and most powerful science. In that spirit, we’ll continue to bring you stories across a wide range of NIGMS topics. We hope these posts offer a respite from the coronavirus news when needed. Scientific research requires many resources, which all require funding. Credit: Michele Vaughan. Scientific inspiration often strikes unexpectedly. The Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes first thought of the principles of vo...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - April 8, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Scientific Process Training Source Type: blogs

Twisting and Turning: Unraveling What Causes Asymmetry
Note to our Biomedical Beat readers: Echoing the sentiments NIH Director Francis Collins made on his blog, NIGMS is making every effort during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep supporting the best and most powerful science. In that spirit, we’ll continue to bring you stories across a wide range of NIGMS topics. We hope these posts offer a respite from the coronavirus news when needed. Asymmetry in our bodies plays an important role in how they work, affecting everything from function of internal systems to the placement and shape of organs. Take a look at your hands. They are mirror images of each other, but they&rsqu...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - April 2, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Cells Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Molecular Structures Cellular Processes Source Type: blogs

Check Out Our Pinterest Board of Virtual Learning STEM Resources
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) has new resources on Pinterest! Follow NIGMS  and access engaging science education materials, including virtual learning activities, scientific images, basic science articles, and more. Virtual Learning Center A collection of materials for educators, students, and curious minds Our latest Virtual Learning Resources board  provides links to lessons and activities that can help classroom teachers, home-schoolers, and parents with remote education. Our new board makes it easy to identify age-appropriate STEM materials from elementary through...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 31, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Matt Mills Tags: Being a Scientist Cool Images Cool Videos Scientific Process Source Type: blogs

How Errors in Divvying Up Chromosomes Lead to Defects in Cells
Note to our Biomedical Beat readers: Echoing the sentiments NIH Director Francis Collins made on his blog, NIGMS is making every effort during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep supporting the best and most powerful science. In that spirit, we’ll continue to bring you stories across a wide range of NIGMS topics. We hope these posts offer a respite from the coronavirus news when needed. Mitosis is fundamental among all organisms for reproduction, growth, and cell replacement. When a cell divides, it’s vital that the two new daughter cells maintain the same genes as the parent. In one step of mitosis, chromosome...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 25, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Susan Johnson Tags: Genes Cellular Processes Chromosomes Source Type: blogs

Explore Our Virtual Learning STEM Resources
If you’re looking for engaging ways to teach science from home, NIGMS offers a range of resources that can help. A SEPA-funded resource about microbes. Credit: University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Our Science Education and Partnership Award (SEPA) webpage features free, easy-to-access STEM and informal science education projects for pre-K through grade 12. Aligned with state and national standards for STEM teaching and learning, the program has tools such as: AppsInteractivesOnline booksCurricula and lesson plansShort movies Students can learn about sleep, cells, growth, microbe...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 20, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Matt Mills Tags: Being a Scientist Cells Genes Biological Clocks Cellular Processes Cool Videos Regeneration Scientific Process Source Type: blogs

PECASE Honoree James Olzmann Investigates the Secrets of Lipid Droplets
Note to our Biomedical Beat readers: Echoing the sentiments NIH Director Francis Collins made on his blog, NIGMS is making every effort during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep supporting the best and most powerful science. In that spirit, we’ll continue to bring you stories across a wide range of NIGMS topics. We hope these posts offer a respite from the coronavirus news when needed. A cell nucleus (blue) surrounded by lipid droplets (yellow). Credit: James Olzmann. Within our cells, lipids are often stored in droplets, membrane-bound packages of lipids produced by the endoplasmic reticulum. For many years, scie...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 19, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Susan Johnson Tags: Being a Scientist Molecular Structures Cellular Processes Source Type: blogs

Revealing a Piece of Cilia ’ s Puzzle
A partial model of a doublet microtubule. Credit: Veronica Falconieri. Cilia (cilium in singular) are complex organelles found on all of our cells except red blood cells. Their rhythmic beating moves fluid or materials over the cell to help transport food and oxygen or remove debris. For example, cilia in our windpipe prevent bacteria and mucous from traveling to the lungs. Some pick up signals like antennae, such as cilia in our ears that help detect sounds. One component of cilia is the doublet microtubule, a major part of cilia’s skeleton that gives it strength and rigidity. Thanks to advances in cryo-elec...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 11, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Molecular Structures Cool Videos Cryo-Electron Microscopy Modeling Source Type: blogs

Pathways: The Circadian Rhythms Issue
Cover of Pathways student magazine. NIGMS and Scholastic, Inc., bring you the third edition of Pathways, a collection of free resources that teaches students about basic science and its importance to health, and exciting research careers. Pathways is designed for grades 6 through 12. The topic of this unit is circadian rhythms, the “schedules” our bodies follow over the course of a day. These rhythms influence processes like hunger and the sleep-wake cycle. You’ll find information about: How the brain’s “master clock” and other bodily “clocks” drive circadian rhythm...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 4, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Biological Clocks Source Type: blogs

PECASE Honoree Sohini Ramachandran Studies the Genetic Foundations of Traits in Diverse Populations
Sohini Ramachandran, Brown University.Credit: Danish Saroee/Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study. Recent advances in computing enable researchers to explore the life sciences in ways that would have been impossible a few decades ago. One new tool is the ability to sequence genomes, revealing people’s full DNA blueprints. The collection of more and more genetic data allows researchers to compare the DNA of many people and observe variations, including those shared by people with a common ancestry. Sohini Ramachandran , Ph.D., is director of the Center for Computational Molecular Biology and associate professo...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - February 26, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Genes Computational Biology Diseases Evolutionary Biology Genomics Source Type: blogs

Sepsis: Using Big Data to Cut a Killer Down to Size
View the full infographic [PDF] for more facts about sepsis. Sepsis is a serious medical condition caused by an overwhelming response to infection that damages tissues and organs. It’s unpredictable, progresses quickly, can strike anyone, and is a leading cause of hospital-related deaths. In the U.S. alone, nearly 270,000 people die each year from sepsis. Those who survive sepsis often end up in the hospital again, and some have long-term health complications. Early treatment is key for many patients to survive sepsis, yet doctors can’t easily diagnose it because it’s so complex and each patient is diffe...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - February 19, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Injury and Illness Bacteria Infectious Diseases Sepsis Systems Biology Viruses Source Type: blogs

The Chemistry of Chocolate
Chocolate is a Valentine’s Day must-have and popular among people with a sweet tooth. Many also claim it lifts mood or even acts as an aphrodisiac, and we’ve all heard someone say it’s habit forming. The compounds in chocolate that allegedly have positive effects come from the cacao bean, so the darker the chocolate, the more of these compounds it contains. Milk chocolate has less than dark chocolate, and white chocolate has nearly none because it includes no cocoa solids, only cocoa butter. Chocolate contains upwards of 800 chemical compounds, just a handful of which are explored in this in...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - February 12, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Source Type: blogs

Crowdsourcing Science: Using Competition to Drive Creativity
Credit: iStock. Historically, crowdsourcing has played an important role in certain fields of scientific research. Wildlife biologists often rely on members of the public to monitor animal populations. Using backyard telescopes, amateur astronomers provide images and measurements that lead to important discoveries about the universe. And many meteorologists use data collected by citizen scientists to study weather conditions and patterns. Now, thanks largely to advances in computing, researchers in computational biology and data science are harnessing the power of the masses and making discoveries that provide valuable...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - February 5, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Tools and Techniques Diseases Genomics Scientific Process Training Source Type: blogs

Quiz Yourself to Grow What You Know About Regeneration
Regeneration is the natural process of replacing or restoring cells that have been lost or damaged due to injury or disease. A few animals can regrow entire organs or other body parts, but most have limited abilities to regenerate. Scientists in the field of regenerative medicine study how some animals are able to rebuild lost body parts. By better understanding these processes and learning how to control them, researchers hope to develop new methods to treat injuries and diseases in people. Take this quiz to test what you know about regeneration and regenerative medicine. Then check out our Regeneration fact sheet a...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - January 29, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Genes Cellular Processes Regeneration Source Type: blogs

PECASE Honoree Michael Boyce on Sugar ’ s Role in Cell Signaling and on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Scientific Workforce
Michael Boyce, associate professor of biochemistry at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Credit: Michael Boyce. Sugars aren’t merely energy sources for our cells. They also play important signaling roles through a process called glycosylation, where they attach to proteins and lipids as tags. Although these sugar tags, called glycans, impact many cellular processes, they have long been understudied due to technical challenges. Now, advances in analytical tools like mass spectrometry are enabling scientists to examine the enormous complexity of glycans. Other advances also allow researchers to synthesize com...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - January 15, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Cellular Processes Glycobiology Proteins Source Type: blogs

Looking Back at the Top Three Posts of 2019
Over the past 12 months, we’ve explored a variety of topics in genetics, cell biology, chemistry, and careers in the biomedical sciences. As we ring in the new year, we bring you our top three posts of 2019. If your favorite is missing, let us know what it is in the comments section below! Amazing Organisms and the Lessons They Can Teach Us Hawaiian bobtail squid. Credit: Dr. Satoshi Shibata. Studying research organisms, such as those featured in this post, teaches us about ourselves. These amazing creatures, which have some traits similar to our own, may hold the key to preventing and treating an array ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - December 31, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Genes Chromosomes Cool Creatures Genomics Profiles Research Organisms Source Type: blogs

The Meat of the Matter: Learning How Gut Microbiota Might Reduce Harm from Red Meat
Microbiota in the intestines. Credit: iStock. Research on how diet impacts the gut microbiota has rapidly expanded in the last several years. Studies show that diets rich in red meat are linked to diseases such as colon cancer and heart disease. In both mice and humans, researchers have recently discovered differences in the gut microbiota of those who eat diets rich in red meat compared with those who don’t. This is likely because of a sugar molecule in the red meat, called N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc), that our bodies can’t break down. Researchers believe the human immune system sees Neu5Gc as foreig...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - December 11, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Matt Mills Tags: Being a Scientist Cells Bacteria Biofilms Cellular Processes Microbes Source Type: blogs

Fabulous Fats in Your Holiday Feast
Happy Thanksgiving! During this time of year, family and friends gather to enjoy rich foods and good company. Even if you typically follow a healthy diet, it can be hard to make wholesome food choices during occasions like these. Our previous post, Five Fabulous Fats, highlighted essential fats made in our bodies. Here we discuss five important fats our bodies can’t make on their own, the foods that contain them, and why you should include a healthy dose of each in your diet. Geranial Credit: iStock. Geranial, a fat some people may not know about, is present in the oils of several citrus plants such a...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - November 26, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Matt Mills Tags: Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Cellular Processes Source Type: blogs

Block an Enzyme, Save a Life
Vern Schramm, professor of biochemistry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York. Credit: Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Enzymes drive life. Without them, we couldn’t properly digest food, make brain chemicals, move—or complete myriad other vital tasks. Unfortunately, in certain cases, enzymes also can trigger a host of health problems, including cancer, bacterial infections, and hypertension (high blood pressure). Understanding how enzymes work has been the research focus of Vern Schramm for more than 4 decades. “When we started our work, we were driven not by the de...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - November 26, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Cellular Processes Diseases Precision Medicine Source Type: blogs

PECASE Honoree Elizabeth Nance Highlights the Importance of Collaboration in Nanotechnology
A network of capillaries supplies brain cells with nutrients. Tight seals in their walls keep blood toxins—and many beneficial drugs—out of the brain. Credit: Dan Ferber, PLOS Biol 2007 Jun; (5)6:E169. CC by 2.5 . The blood-brain barrier—the ultra-tight seal in the walls of the brain’s capillaries—is an important part of the body’s defense system. It keeps invaders and other toxins from entering the human brain by screening out dangerous molecules. But the intricate workings of this extremely effective barrier also make it challenging to design therapeutics that would help us. A...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - November 20, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Diseases Precision Medicine Systems Biology Training Source Type: blogs

Pathways: The Regeneration Issue
Cover of Pathways student magazine. NIGMS and Scholastic, Inc., are excited to bring you the next edition of Pathways, a collection of free resources that teaches students about basic science, its importance to human health, and exciting research careers. Pathways is designed for grades 6 through 12. The topic of this unit is regenerative medicine, a field that focuses on restoring or healing damaged body parts so that they function normally. The long-term goal is to stimulate tissue and organs to heal themselves. You’ll find information on: How studying creatures that regenerate tissue may help tre...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - November 13, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Regeneration Source Type: blogs

Cool Images: A Colorful —and Halloween-Inspired—Collection
Transformations aren’t just for people or pets around Halloween. Scientific images also can look different than you might expect, depending on how they’re photographed. Check out these tricky-looking images and learn more about the science behind them. Credit: Nilay Taneja, Vanderbilt University, and Dylan T. Burnette, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Do you have a hunch about what this image is? Perhaps something to do with dry leaves? It’s a human fibroblast cell undergoing cell division, or cytokinesis, into two daughter cells. Cytokinesis is essential for the growth and...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - October 31, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Cells Biofilms Cellular Imaging Cool Images Source Type: blogs

On the RISE: Joshua and Caleb Marceau Use NIGMS Grant to Jump-Start Their Research Careers
A college degree was far from the minds of Joshua and Caleb Marceau growing up on a small farm on the Flathead Indian Reservation in rural northwestern Montana. Their world centered on powwows, tending cattle and chicken, fishing in streams, and working the 20-acre ranch their parents own. Despite their innate love of learning and science, the idea of applying to and paying for college seemed out of reach. Then, opportunities provided through NIGMS, mentors, and scholarships led them from a local tribal college to advanced degrees in biomedical science. Today, both Joshua and Caleb are Ph.D.-level scientists working to imp...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - October 23, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Infectious Diseases Scientific Process Training Source Type: blogs

Interview With a Scientist: Unlocking the Secrets of Animal Regeneration With Alejandro S ánchez Alvarado
Most of what we know comes from intensive study of research organisms—mice, fruit flies, worms, zebrafish, and a few others. But according to Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado , a researcher at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, these research organisms represent only a tiny fraction of all animal species on the planet. Under-studied organisms could reveal important biological phenomena that simply don’t occur in the handful of models typically studied, he says. Sánchez Alvarado’s work focuses on the planarian, ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - October 9, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Genes Cellular Processes Regeneration Source Type: blogs

Back to School: Top Tips for Undergraduates Eyeing Careers in Biomedical Sciences
Finding a career path in biomedical research can be challenging for many young people, especially when they have no footsteps to follow. We asked three recent college graduates who are pursuing advanced degrees in biomedical sciences to give us their best advice for undergrads. Tip 1: Talk with mentors and peers, and explore opportunities. One of the most challenging things for incoming undergraduates is simply to find out about biomedical research opportunities. By talking to professors and peers, students can find ways to explore and develop their interests in biomedical research. Credit: Mariajose Franco. Ma...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - September 11, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Matt Mills Tags: Being a Scientist Profiles Training Source Type: blogs

Get Kids Excited About Science: Free STEM Resources
Credit: University of Nebraska, Lincoln. We have a new Science Education and Partnership Award (SEPA) webpage, featuring free, easy-to-access, SEPA-funded resources that educators nationwide can use to engage their students in science. The SEPA program supports innovative STEM  and informal science education   projects for pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The program includes tools that teachers, scientists, and parents can use to excite kids about science and research, such as: AppsInteractivities  Online booksCurricula and lesson plansShort movies Topics include sleep, cells, growth, mi...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - August 28, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Pamela Morrison Tags: Being a Scientist Cool Videos Scientific Process Systems Biology Training Source Type: blogs

Advances in 3D Printing of Replacement Tissue
A bioprint of the small air sac in the lungs with red blood cells moving through a vessel network supplying oxygen to living cells. Credit: Rice University. A team of bioengineers, funded in part by NIGMS, has devised a way to use 3D bioprinting technology to construct the small air sacs in the lungs and intricate blood vessels. When hooked up to a machine, the air sacs can “breathe,” and the blood flowing through the tiny blood vessels can take up oxygen, much like they would in an animal’s body. In the long term, this technology may allow the production of replacement organs for patients who need the...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - August 21, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Matt Mills Tags: Tools and Techniques Cool Tools/Techniques Modeling Systems Biology Source Type: blogs

RNA Polymerase: A Target for New Antibiotic Drugs?
DNA, with its double-helix shape, is the stuff of genes. But genes themselves are only “recipes” for protein molecules, which are molecules that do the real heavy lifting (or do much of the work) inside cells. Artist interpretation of RNAP grasping and unwinding a DNA double helix. Credit: Wei Lin and Richard H. Ebright. Here’s how it works. A molecular machine called RNA polymerase (RNAP) travels along DNA to find a place where a gene begins. RNAP uses a crab-claw-like structure to grasp and unwind the DNA double helix at that spot. RNAP then copies (“transcribes”) the gene into messe...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - August 7, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Genes Bacteria Cellular Processes DNA Infectious Diseases Medicines Proteins RNA Source Type: blogs

A Scientist ’s Exploration of Regeneration
Viravuth (“Voot”) Yin, associate professor of regenerative biology and medicine at MDI Biological Laboratory and chief scientific officer at Novo Biosciences, Inc., in Bar Harbor, Maine. Credit: MDI Biological Laboratory. In 1980, a week after his 6th birthday, Viravuth (“Voot”) Yin immigrated with his mother, grandfather, and three siblings from Cambodia to the United States. Everything they owned fit into a single, 18-inch carry-on bag. They had to build new lives from almost nothing. So, it’s perhaps fitting that Yin studies regeneration, the fascinating ability of some animals, such ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - July 17, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Cool Creatures Regeneration Research Organisms RNA Source Type: blogs

Cilia: Tiny Cell Structures With Mighty Functions
Credit: Zvonimir Dogic, Brandeis University. Imagine an army of tiny soldiers stationed throughout your body, lining cells from your brain to every major organ system. Rather than standing at attention, this tiny force sweeps back and forth thousands of times a minute. Their synchronized action helps move debris along the ranks to the nearest opening. Other soldiers stand as sentries, detecting changes in your environment, relaying that information to your brain, and boosting your senses of taste, smell, sight, and hearing. Your brain may be the commander in chief, but these rank-and-file soldiers are made up of mic...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - July 3, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Matt Mills Tags: Cells Cellular Processes Cool Video Source Type: blogs

Don ’t Be Afraid to Search in the Dark: Jon Lorsch Encourages Graduates to Consider New Perspectives
Jon Lorsch, from Swarthmore College’s class of 1990, returned to his alma mater in May to accept an honorary Doctor of Sciences degree for his accomplishments as a biochemist and his visionary leadership of NIGMS. During the university’s 147th commencement, he spoke to the 2019 graduating class, offering advice and examples of how we can look for opportunities in the least likely places. Watch the 5-minute video to hear Lorsch’s advice to the graduates—and all future scientists—to venture into the unknown in search of the next big advance in biomedical research. Transcript of Lors...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - June 19, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Scientific Process Source Type: blogs

Computational Biologist Melissa Wilson on Sex Chromosomes, Gila Monsters, and Career Advice
Dr. Melissa Wilson. Credit: Chia-Chi Charlie Chang. The X and Y chromosomes, also known as sex chromosomes, differ greatly from each other. But in two regions, they are practically identical, said Melissa Wilson , assistant professor of genomics, evolution, and bioinformatics at Arizona State University. “We’re interested in studying how the process of evolution shaped the X and the Y chromosome in gene content and expression and how that subsequently affects literally everything else that comes with being a human,” she said at the April 10 NIGMS Director’s Early-Career Investigator (E...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - June 6, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Matt Mills Tags: Being a Scientist Genes Chromosomes Cool Creatures DNA Evolution Evolutionary Biology Genomics Source Type: blogs

Amazing Organisms and the Lessons They Can Teach Us
What do you have in common with rodents, birds, and reptiles? A lot more than you might think. These creatures have organs and body systems very similar to our own: a skeleton, digestive tract, brain, nervous system, heart, network of blood vessels, and more. Even so-called “simple” organisms such as insects and worms use essentially the same genetic and molecular pathways we do. Studying these organisms provides a deeper understanding of human biology in health and disease, and makes possible new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat a wide range of conditions. Historically, scientists have relied on a few k...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - May 15, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Genes Biofilms Cool Creatures Diseases Evolution Modeling Neurobiology Regeneration Research Organisms Wound Healing Source Type: blogs

PREP Scholar ’ s Passion for Understanding Body ’s Defenses
Charmaine N. Nganje, PREP scholar at Tufts University in Boston. Credit: Katherine Suarez. Charmaine N. Nganje Hometown: Montgomery Village, Maryland Influential book : The Harry Potter series (not exactly influential, but they’re my favorite) Favorite movie/TV show: The Pursuit of Happyness/The Flash Languages: English (and a bit of Patois) Unusual fact: I’m the biggest Philadelphia Eagles fan from Maryland that you’ll ever meet Hobbies: Off-peak traveling Q. Which NIGMS program are you involved with? A. The Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP)  at the Sac...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - April 24, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Matt Mills Tags: Being a Scientist Bacteria Diseases Infection Infectious Disease Infectious Diseases Training Source Type: blogs

Chromosomally speaking, what do you know about sex? Take a quiz to find out.
Women have two X chromosomes (XX) and men have one X and one Y (XY), right? Not always, as you’ll learn from the quiz below. Men can be XX and women can be XY. And many other combinations of X and Y are possible. NIGMS Director’sEarly-Career Investigator LectureSex-Biased Genome Evolution Melissa A. Wilson, Ph.D.Arizona State University Wednesday, April 10, 201910:00-11:30 a.m. ET Lecture followed by Q&A sessionInfo on the ECI Lecture webpage You can learn more by listening to the live stream of a talk, titled “Sex-Biased Genome Evolution,” at 10 a.m. ET on April 10. The speaker,...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - April 3, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Matt Mills Tags: Being a Scientist Genes Chromosomes Genetics Genome Genomics Source Type: blogs

Pathways: New Scholastic Resources on Basic Science and Career Paths
(Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences)
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 18, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Juli Rose Tags: Being a Scientist Field Focus scientist profiles Source Type: blogs

Five Fabulous Fats
Happy Fat Tuesday! On this day, celebrated in many countries with lavish parties and high-fat foods, we’re recognizing the importance of fats in the body. You’ve probably heard about different types of fat, such as saturated, trans, monounsaturated, omega-3, and omega-6. But fats aren’t just ingredients in food. Along with similar molecules, they fall under the broad term lipids and serve critical roles in the body. Lipids protect your vital organs. They help cells communicate. They launch chemical reactions needed for growth, immune function, and reproduction. They serve as the building blocks of your ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 5, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Susanne Hiller-Sturmhoefel and Alisa Zapp Machalek Tags: Cell Biology Chemistry and Biochemistry Pharmacology Cellular Processes Diseases Lipids Source Type: blogs

Roses are red and so is . . . blood?
When you think of blood, chances are you think of the color red. But blood actually comes in a variety of colors, including red, blue, green, and purple. This rainbow of colors can be traced to the protein molecules that carry oxygen in the blood. Different proteins produce different colors. Red Blood Humans, along with most other animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, have red blood. We all use an oxygen-carrying blood protein, known as hemoglobin, that contains iron. It’s the iron that gives blood its dark red color in the body.  When blood comes into contact with air, it turns the classic scarlet r...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - February 14, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Beth Azar and Alisa Zapp Machalek Tags: Cell Biology Chemistry and Biochemistry Cool Creatures Metals Proteins Source Type: blogs

NIGMS Grantees Receive National STEM Mentoring Award
In a previous post, we highlighted two NIGMS-funded winners of the 2018 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM ). For January’s National Mentoring Month, we tell you about other awardees: J.K. Haynes, Virginia Shepherd, and Maria da Graça H. Vicente. J. K. Haynes, Ph.D., Morehouse College J. K. Haynes, Ph.D., Morehouse College. Credit: Morehouse College. During his long scientific career, J. K. Haynes has been a successful researcher and served in prestigious administrative and national leadership positions. But he is most proud of the individual liv...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - January 30, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Kathryn Calkins and Alisa Zapp Machalek Tags: Being a Scientist scientist profiles Training Source Type: blogs

How Three Physician Scientists Are Taking Strides to Improve Our Health
Brain injuries, cancer, infections, and wound healing are some of the complex and pressing health concerns we face today. Understanding the basic science behind these diseases and biological processes is the key to developing new treatments and improving patient outcomes. Physician scientists—medical doctors who also conduct laboratory research—are essential to turning knowledge gained in the lab into innovative treatments, surgical advances, and new diagnostic tools. In this blog, we highlight the work and impact of three trauma surgeon scientists funded by NIGMS at different stages in their careers: Dr. Nicol...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - January 9, 2019 Category: Research Authors: Ashley Swanson Tags: Being a Scientist Physical Trauma and Sepsis scientist profiles Training Wound Healing Source Type: blogs

Festive Flu Virus Structure
Credit: Rommie Amaro, Jacob Durrant, Adam Gardner, and colleagues. Ah, December—a month suffused with light-filled holidays, presents, parties . . . and the spread of colds and flu. This playful image uses a festive approach to the serious science of understanding and finding ways to combat the flu virus. The structure shows the H1N1 influenza (flu) virus, so named for the hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N) molecules shown in ice blue on the surface of the virus. Also appearing in atomic-level detail is the virus’ outer envelope (white), matrix proteins (bright green), and genetic material (ribonucleoprote...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - December 20, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Alisa Zapp Machalek Tags: Cool Images Diseases Infection Infectious Disease Spread Infectious Diseases Viruses Source Type: blogs

Extreme Healing, Weird Genomics, and Bloodsucking Invaders
Quick quiz:  Which organism . . . Can regrow a severed spinal cord? Is a culinary delicacy overseas but an invasive pest in the U.S.? Reveals insights about tissue regeneration, evolution, and cancer biology? Give up? It’s the sea lamprey. A direct descendant of one of the first organisms to develop a backbone, these remarkable creatures are considered “living fossils.” Best of all, they can regrow a severed spinal cord—a feat we humans can only dream about. Credit: Jeramiah Smith, University of Kentucky. This leechlike creature has several unusual—and enviable—characteristics...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - December 12, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Alisa Zapp Machalek Tags: Genetics Cellular Processes Chromosomes Cool Creatures Research Organisms Wound Healing Source Type: blogs

CRISPR Illustrated
You’ve probably heard news stories and other talk about CRISPR. If you’re not a scientist—well, even if you are—it can seem a bit complex. Here’s a brief recap of what it’s all about. In 1987, scientists noticed weird, repeating sequences of DNA in bacteria. In 2002, the abbreviation CRISPR was coined to describe the genetic oddity. By 2006, it was clear that bacteria use CRISPR to defend themselves against viruses. By 2012, scientists realized that they could modify the bacterial strategy to create a gene-editing tool. Since then, CRISPR has been used in countless laboratory studies to ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - November 29, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Alisa Zapp Machalek Tags: Genetics Cool Tools/Techniques CRISPR Gene Editing Source Type: blogs

Surgeon Chris McCulloh Stands Up to Disability
Credit: Chris McCulloh. Chris McCulloh Job: 4th-year general surgical resident, Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey Grew up in: Manhattan When not at work, he’s: Programming, coding, thinking about artificial intelligence, and machine learning Hobbies: Writing/producing electronic music, weightlifting Ten years ago, Chris McCulloh planned to enter medical school and fulfill his dream of becoming a surgeon. Instead, just months before he was to start med school, he ended up a patient. A freak accident—slipping on a hardwood floor, flying backwards, and landing neck-first on the edge of a glass coffee tabl...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - November 15, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Beth Azar Tags: Being a Scientist Stem Cells Training Source Type: blogs

Spark Student Interest in Science with SEPA-Funded Education Materials
Discussions with health professionals Users learn about common heart conditions, diagnostic tests, and steps people can take to get and keep their cardiovascular system healthy. This app is available in both English and Spanish. Monster Heart Medic is part of the PlayPads project produced by the University of California, Berkeley, Lawrence Hall of Science, in partnership with the University of California, San Francisco, Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland. Other SEPA-Funded Projects Interested in more? Check out last year’s SEPA blog post for other projects. Also see the SEPA website. (Source: Biomedical Be...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - October 31, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Juli Rose Tags: Being a Scientist Source Type: blogs