It ’s Elementary: Celebrating National Chemistry Week
Happy National Chemistry Week! In honor of this celebration, we’re showcasing posts that focus on elements crucial for human health and scientific exploration. NIGMS-supported scientists are studying how each of these elements (and many others) can impact human health. Check out the list below to learn more, and let us know what your favorite element is in the comments section! Credit: Adapted from Compound Interest. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Helium: An Abundant History and a Shortage Threatening Scientific Tools Scientists first discovered helium burning on the surface of the sun. Today, liquid helium plays an essenti...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - October 20, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Source Type: blogs

Pathways: The Anesthesia Issue
Cover of Pathways student magazine. NIGMS and Scholastic bring you Pathways: The Anesthesia Issue, which explores pain and the science behind anesthesia—the medical treatment that prevents patients from feeling pain during surgery and other procedures. Without anesthesia, many life-saving medical procedures would be impossible. Pathways, designed for students in grades 6 through 12, aims to build awareness of basic biomedical science and its importance to health, while inspiring careers in research. All materials in the collection are available online and are free for parents, educators, and students nationwide. ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - October 14, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Injury and Illness Anesthesiology Pain Source Type: blogs

Scientist Studies Burn Therapies After Being Severely Burned as a Child
“If I was going to do science, I wanted it to help people,” says Julia Bohannon, Ph.D., an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Julia Bohannon. Credit: Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Bohannon researches therapies that could help prevent infections in patients with severe burn injuries. Infections are common in these patients because burn injuries typically suppress the immune system. Dr. Bohannon originally planned to become a burn surgeon, inspired by the doctor who treated her after she was severely burned as a child. But ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - October 6, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Injury and Illness Burns Profiles Source Type: blogs

Could a Spoonful of Sugar Be a Medicine?
Glycans glow red, yellow, and green in this image of a zebrafish embryo’s jaw. Credit: Carolyn Bertozzi, University of California, Berkeley. Large sugar molecules called glycans coat every cell in our bodies. They can also be found inside and between cells, and they are important for many biological processes, including how our cells interact with one another and with pathogens. For example, glycans on red blood cells determine blood type, and those on the cells of organs determine whether a person can receive a transplant from a particular donor. Scientists have only begun to explore sugars’ complexities an...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - September 29, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Glycobiology Research Roundup Source Type: blogs

Science Snippet: Brush Up on Biofilms
A biofilm is a highly organized community of microorganisms that develops naturally on certain surfaces. Typically, biofilms are made up of microbes and an extracellular matrix that they produce. This matrix can include polysaccharides (chains of sugars), proteins, lipids, DNA, and other molecules. The matrix gives the biofilm structure and helps it stick to a surface. Formation of a biofilm often involves a process called quorum sensing. In this process, microbes detect when they reach a certain population density and change their behavior in ways that help them function as a community. Biofilms are common and h...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - September 22, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Cells Injury and Illness Bacteria Biofilms Microbes Source Type: blogs

Staying Safe From Sepsis
This post was adapted with permission from the NIH News in Health article, “Staying Safe From Sepsis.” Your immune system is on patrol every day. It protects your body from bacteria, viruses, and other germs. But if something goes wrong, it can also cause big problems. White blood cells undergoing a cascade of biochemical changes that is part of the immune response. Credit: Xiaolei Su, HHMI Whitman Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory. Sepsis happens when your body’s response to an infection spirals out of control. Your body releases molecules into the blood called cytokines to fight the...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - September 15, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Injury and Illness Infectious Diseases Sepsis Source Type: blogs

Make Like a Cell and Split: Comparing Mitosis and Meiosis
Your body is made up of trillions of cells that all originate from just one—a fertilized egg. The massive multiplication of cells after conception is possible thanks to cell division, which occurs when one cell splits into two. Cell division not only enables growth but also replaces damaged or dead cells and makes reproduction possible. There are two kinds of cell division: mitosis and meiosis. Mitosis is shown on the left, and meiosis is shown on the right. Credit: Judith Stoffer. Click to enlarge What’s the Difference? Mitosis produces two genetically identical “daughter” cell...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - September 8, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Cells Cellular Processes Chromosomes Source Type: blogs

Researcher Shares Science en Espa ñol and Builds a Community
Dr. Marcos Ramos-Benítez. Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Ramos-Benítez. “For me, science is the perfect way to harmonize creative thinking and critical thinking,” says Marcos Ramos-Benítez, Ph.D., a fellow in the NIGMS Postdoctoral Research Associate Training (PRAT) program. Dr. Ramos-Benítez researches interactions between pathogens—such as the viruses that cause Ebola and COVID-19—and their hosts. He’s also the founder and president of Ciencia en tus Manos (“Science in Your Hands”), a nonprofit organization that presents scientific information in Spanis...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - September 1, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist COVID-19 Infectious Diseases Profiles Training Source Type: blogs

Navajo Students Engage With Public Health Research Through NARCH
Navajo students are contributing to public health efforts in diabetes, COVID-19, domestic violence, and maternal and child health through the Navajo Native American Research Center for Health (NARCH) Partnership. “Our goal is to really enhance the educational pathways available to Navajo students from high school to graduate school and beyond,” says Mark Bauer, Ph.D., a co-director of the Navajo NARCH Partnership and professor at Diné College—a tribal college on the Navajo Nation. (Diné means “the people” and is how Navajo people refer to themselves in their native language.) ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - August 25, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist COVID-19 Training Source Type: blogs

Cool Images: Beautiful Bits of Blue
Most cells are naturally colorless, which is why scientists often use fluorescent tags and other tools to color cell structures and make them easier to study. (Check out the Pathways imaging issue for more on scientific imaging techniques). Here, we’re showcasing cell images that feature shades of blue. Visit our Image and Video Gallery for additional images of cells in all the colors of the rainbow, as well as other scientific photos, illustrations, and videos. .featured { opacity: 1 !important; transform: scale(1) !important; z-index: 1 !important; } .featured a:hover::after { content: &...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - August 18, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Cells Cellular Imaging Cool Images Source Type: blogs

Biology Beyond the Lab: Using Computers to Study Life
Learn more about Dr. Melissa Wilson’s computational biology research in another Biomedical Beat blog post. Credit: Jacob Sahertian, ASU. “You’re not going to be able to do biology without understanding programming in the future,” Melissa Wilson, Ph.D., an associate professor of genomics, evolution, and bioinformatics at Arizona State University, said in her 2019 NIGMS Early Career Investigator Lecture. “You don’t have to be an expert programmer. But without understanding programming, I can assert you won’t be able to do biology in the next 20 years.” A growing number o...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - August 11, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Tools and Techniques Bioinformatics Computational Biology Cool Tools/Techniques Profiles Source Type: blogs

In Other Words: Translation Isn ’t Only for Languages
In everyday use, most people understand translation to mean converting words from one language to another. But when biologists talk about translation, they mean the process of making proteins based on the genetic information encoded in messenger RNA (mRNA). Proteins are essential for virtually every process in our bodies, from transporting oxygen to defending against infection, so translation is vital for keeping us alive and healthy. Credit: NIGMS. How does translation work? First, RNA polymerase separates sections of double-stranded DNA to access their genes. Then, it copies the information from the genes to cr...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - August 4, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Genes Cellular Processes DNA Genomics Proteins RNA Source Type: blogs

Science Snippet: Apoptosis Explained
Apoptosis is the process by which cells in the body die in a controlled and predictable way because they have DNA damage or are no longer needed. The term comes from a Greek word meaning “falling off,” as in leaves falling from a tree. When a cell undergoes apoptosis, it shrinks and pulls away from its neighbors. As the cytoskeleton that gives it shape and structure collapses, the envelope around the cell’s nucleus breaks down, and its DNA breaks into pieces. Its surface changes, signaling its death to other cells and leading a healthy cell to engulf the dying one and recycle its components. Two cel...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - July 28, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Cells Cellular Processes Source Type: blogs

Cool Video: A Biological Lava Lamp
Credit: Jasmin Imran Alsous and Jonathan Jackson, Martin Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. What looks like a bubbling lava lamp is actually part of an egg cell’s maturation process. In many animals, the egg cell develops alongside sister cells. These sister cells are called nurse cells in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster), and their job is to “nurse” an immature egg cell, or oocyte. Toward the end of oocyte development, the nurse cells transfer all their contents into the oocyte in a process called nurse cell dumping. This video captures this transfer, showing significant shape changes ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - July 21, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Cells Cellular Imaging Cellular Processes Cool Videos Source Type: blogs

More Than 25 Years of Competition and Collaboration Advance the Prediction of Protein Shapes
Proteins (such as hemoglobin, actin, and amylase) are workhorse molecules that contribute to virtually every activity in the body. Some of proteins’ many jobs include carrying oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body (hemoglobin), allowing your muscles to move (actin and myosin), and digesting your food (amylase, pepsin, and lactase). All proteins are made up of chains of amino acids that fold into specific 3D structures, and each protein’s structure allows it to perform its distinct job. Proteins that are misfolded or misshapen can cause diseases such as Parkinson’s or cataracts. While it&rsquo...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - July 14, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Molecular Structures Cool Tools/Techniques Modeling Proteins Scientific Process Source Type: blogs

Career Conversations: Q & A with Molecular Biologist Hong Liu
Dr. Hong Liu in the lab. Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Hong Liu. “A scientific career is really worth it,” says Hong Liu, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. Check out the highlights of our interview with Dr. Liu below to learn about his journey as a scientist and his advice for students. Q: What makes a career in science exciting? A: I think there are at least two things that make a science career very exciting. The first is that doing science means you have freedom to explore a lot of new ideas. The second th...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - July 7, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Cells Cellular Processes Chromosomes Profiles Source Type: blogs

A Focus on Microscopes: See Eye-Catching Images
Have you ever wondered what creates striking images of cells and other tiny structures? Most often, the answer is microscopes. Many of us have encountered basic light microscopes in science classes, but those are just one of many types that scientists use. Check out the slideshow to see images researchers have captured using different kinds of microscopes. For even more images of the microscopic world, visit the NIGMS Image and Video Gallery. .featured { opacity: 1 !important; transform: scale(1) !important; z-index: 1 !important; } .featured a:hover::after { content: "Click to view on NIGMS Ima...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - June 30, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Matt Mills Tags: Cells Molecular Structures Tools and Techniques Cellular Imaging Cool Images Cool Tools/Techniques Source Type: blogs

Explore Scientific Imaging Through a Virtual “Internship”
Students, teachers, and other curious minds can step into a scientific imaging lab with a free online interactive developed by NIGMS and Scholastic. Imaging tools help scientists unlock the mysteries of our cells and molecules. A better understanding of this tiny world can help researchers learn about the body’s normal and abnormal processes and lead to more effective, targeted treatments for illnesses. Entrances to the virtual imaging labs. In each virtual imaging lab, you can learn how cryo-electron microscopes, X-ray crystallography, X-ray free electron lasers, and confocal laser scanning enable research...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - June 16, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Molecular Structures Cellular Imaging Cool Tools/Techniques Cryo-Electron Microscopy Source Type: blogs

Career Conversations: Q & A with Microbiologist Josephine Chandler
Josephine (Josie) Chandler, Ph.D., first became interested in science when she took a high school chemistry class. In college, she fell in love with microbiology and ultimately earned a Ph.D. in the field. Today, she’s an associate professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, where her lab investigates interactions in bacterial communities. By better understanding these interactions, scientists may find new ways to stop infections or break down environmental pollutants—a process known as bioremediation. In a video interview, Dr. Chandler shares her journey as a scientist, h...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - June 9, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Cells Bacteria Cool Videos Microbes Profiles Source Type: blogs

Dairy Deconstructor: How an Enzyme Enables Milk Digestion
Did you know that the lack of a single enzyme is responsible for lactose intolerance, a common condition that causes people to have trouble digesting milk? Fortunately, the enzyme is available in an over-the-counter pill for lactose-intolerant people who want to enjoy dairy products. Enzymes are molecules—almost always proteins—that speed up chemical reactions by reducing the amount of energy needed for the reactions to proceed. Without them, many processes in our bodies would essentially grind to a halt. Some break down large molecules into their building blocks, while others combine small molecules int...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - June 2, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Cellular Processes Proteins Source Type: blogs

Tackling Health Disparities in Louisiana
“If you bring a public health program to people where they live, you can get amazing results,” says Peter Katzmarzyk, Ph.D., a professor of pediatric obesity and diabetes at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University. Specifically, bringing health programs into underserved communities can lead to strong engagement and positive changes in people’s health. Dr. Katzmarzyk is part of the NIGMS-funded Louisiana Clinical & Translational Science Center (LA CaTS), a collaboration between 10 academic, research, and health care delivery institutions that focuses on reducing health dispari...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - May 26, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Injury and Illness Source Type: blogs

Quiz: Are You a Genetics Genius?
Genes are segments of DNA. They contain instructions for building one or more molecules that help the body work. Researchers in the field of genetics study genes and heredity—how certain traits are passed from parents to their offspring through DNA. NIGMS supports many scientists who investigate the genetics of people and research organisms to better understand human health and disease. Take our quiz below to test how much you know about genetics. Then check out our new fact sheet on genetics to learn more. For more quizzes and other fun learning tools, visit our activities and multimedia webpage. ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - May 19, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Genes Tools and Techniques DNA Genomics Quiz Source Type: blogs

Science Snippet: Learn About the Cytoskeleton
A cow cell showing actin filaments (red) and microtubules (green). Credit: Tina Carvalho, University of Hawaii at Manoa. The cytoskeleton is a collection of fibers that gives shape and support to cells, like the skeleton does for our bodies. It also allows movement within the cell and, in some cases, by the entire cell. Three different types of fibers make up the cytoskeleton: actin filaments, intermediate filaments, and microtubules. Powering Muscles Actin filaments contract or lengthen to give cells the flexibility to move and change shape. Along with the protein myosin, they’re responsible for m...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - May 12, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Cells Source Type: blogs

Pumping Iron: The Heavy Lifting Iron Does in Our Bodies
Our blood appears red for the same reason the planet Mars does: iron. The element may bring to mind cast-iron pans, wrought-iron fences, or ancient iron tools, but it’s also essential to life on Earth. All living organisms, from humans to bacteria, need iron. It’s crucial for many processes in the human body, including oxygen transport, muscle function, proper growth, cell health, and the production of several hormones. Iron is the reason both our blood and the planet Mars appear red. The element also makes up the majority of Earth’s core and generates the planet’s magnetic field. Credit: Co...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - May 5, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Cellular Processes Proteins Source Type: blogs

Gone Fishing: Teaching Bioinformatics With Skate DNA
As computers have advanced over the past few decades, researchers have been able to work with larger and more complex datasets than ever before. The science of using computers to investigate biological data is called bioinformatics, and it’s helping scientists make important discoveries, such as finding versions of genes that affect a person’s risk for developing various types of cancer. Many scientists believe that almost all biologists will use bioinformatics to some degree in the future. Bioinformatics software was used to create this representation of a biological network. Credit: Benjamin King, Universi...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - April 28, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Genes Bioinformatics Cool Creatures DNA Genomics Training Source Type: blogs

Making a MARC at Vanderbilt
“What we’re trying to do is support the students’ attachment to being a scientist, to becoming part of the community,” says Douglas McMahon, Ph.D., the Stevenson Professor of Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and a co-director of Vanderbilt’s Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) program. MARC focuses on undergraduates from diverse backgrounds who are in the biomedical sciences and plan to pursue a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. degree after graduation. Sim Plotkin.Credit: Allyson Arserio. For years, NIGMS has funded MARC programs throughout the United Sta...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - April 14, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Matt Mills Tags: Being a Scientist Training Source Type: blogs

Accelerating the Development of Tests for Endometriosis and Cancer
NIGMS’ Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program works toward more effective methods for patient screening, diagnosis, and treatment. Translating lab discoveries into health care products requires large investments of time and resources. Through the STTR Regional Technology Transfer Accelerator Hubs for IDeA States program, NIGMS helps researchers interested in transitioning their discoveries and/or inventions into products. Here are the stories of three researchers working with the XLerator Hub, which funds projects in the southeastern United States and Puerto Rico. Ending Diagnostic Delays for Endomet...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - April 7, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Injury and Illness Cancer Diseases Profiles Scientific Process Source Type: blogs

Cool Images: Wondrous Worms
The tiny roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans is one of the most common research organisms—creatures scientists use to study life. While C. elegans may seem drastically different from humans, it shares many genes and molecular pathways with us. Viewed with a microscope, the worm can also be surprisingly beautiful. Aside from the stunning imagery, these examples from our Image and Video Gallery show how C. elegans helps scientists advance our understanding of living systems and find new ways to improve our health. Credit: Keir Balla and Emily Troemel, University of California San Diego. This C. elegans h...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 30, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Susan Johnson Tags: Cells Cool Creatures Cool Images Research Organisms Source Type: blogs

Engage Learners in Science and Health With Our Kahoots!
NIGMS, in collaboration with Scholastic, has developed a collection of free biology and health activities on the educational app Kahoot! You can play them alone, with friends, or with a class of students. Four Kahoots! are currently available: Imaging the Microscopic World investigates how researchers view cells, proteins, and other tiny structures. Superbugs delves into infectious bacteria and viruses that can’t be fought off with medicines. The Science of Sleep explores biological clocks and circadian rhythms. Regeneration highlights how animals replace or restore damaged or missing cells, tissues, organs, ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 24, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Cells Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Injury and Illness Biological Clocks Infectious Diseases Microbes Regeneration Source Type: blogs

Take a Tour of Your Cells ’ Organelles!
A cross-section of a cell showing organelles. Credit: Judith Stoffer. Welcome to our tour of the cell! Imagine you’ve shrunk down to about 3 millionths of your normal size. You are now about 0.5 micrometers tall (a micrometer is 1/1,000th of a millimeter). At this scale, a medium-sized human cell looks as long, high, and wide as a football field. But you can’t see nearly that far. Clogging your view is a rich stew of molecules, fibers, and various cell structures called organelles. Like the internal organs in your body, organelles in the cell each have a unique biological role to play. The Nucleus and Its C...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 17, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Cells Cellular Processes Source Type: blogs

Quiz: Prove Your Knowledge of Proteins!
Proteins play a role in virtually every activity in the body. They make up hair and nails, help muscles move, protect against infection, and more. Many NIGMS-funded researchers study the rich variety of proteins in humans and other organisms to shed light on their roles in health and disease. Take our quiz to test how much you know about proteins. Afterward, find more quizzes and other fun learning tools on our activities and multimedia webpage, which includes an interactive protein alphabet. START QUIZ (Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences)
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 10, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Cells Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Molecular Structures Cellular Processes Proteins Quiz Source Type: blogs

Pathways: The Imaging Issue
Cover of Pathways student magazine. NIGMS and Scholastic bring you our latest issue of Pathways, which focuses on imaging tools that help scientists unlock the mysteries of our cells and molecules. A better understanding of this tiny world can help researchers learn about the body’s normal and abnormal processes and lead to more effective, targeted treatments for illnesses. Pathways is designed for students in grades 6 through 12. This collection of free resources teaches students about basic science and its importance to health, as well as exciting research careers. The new issue of the student magazine incl...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 3, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Cells Molecular Structures Tools and Techniques Cellular Imaging Cool Tools/Techniques Source Type: blogs

Zinc: Zapping Invaders
Although zinc may appear last on nutrition labels, it’s the second-most abundant trace element in our bodies, behind only iron. (Trace elements are molecules our bodies need in small amounts to stay healthy). Zinc is crucial for a well-functioning immune system, wound healing, physical growth, the senses of taste and smell, and the construction of proteins and DNA. It can also partner with oxygen to form zinc oxide, a compound that scatters ultraviolet light and can act as a protective barrier over inflamed skin. Many sunscreens, burn ointments, diaper creams, and other skin treatments contain zinc oxide. Zi...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - February 24, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Cellular Processes Source Type: blogs

Through the Looking Glass: Microscopic Structures in Many Sizes
We seldom see microscopic objects next to one another, so it can be difficult to picture how they compare. For instance, it might surprise you that a thousand cold-virus particles could line up across one human skin cell! The largest objects that scientists view through microscopes are about a millimeter (roughly the size of a poppyseed), and they’re about 10 million times larger than the smallest molecules scientists can view: atoms. This insightful Cell Size and Scale interactive from the Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah helps put the size of many biological structures in context. Su...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - February 17, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Matt Mills Tags: Cells Molecular Structures Bacteria Proteins Viruses Source Type: blogs

COVID-19 Vaccine and Therapeutic Trials ACTIV-ate in West Virginia
ACTIV clinical trials will evaluate the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. Credit: iStock. Since the virus that causes COVID-19, known as SARS-CoV-2, was first reported in late 2019, scientists have launched hundreds of studies on strategies for diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. To prioritize the most promising vaccine and therapeutics candidates, streamline clinical trials, and coordinate regulatory processes, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Foundation for the NIH have established the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) partnership. ACTIV brings t...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - February 3, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Injury and Illness COVID-19 Infectious Diseases Medicines Scientific Process Source Type: blogs

Cool Images: Bewitching Bacteria
Some bacteria benefit us as part of our microbiome—the vast collection of microorganisms that live in and on our bodies—while others can make us sick. Whether helpful or dangerous, bacteria can appear colorful and striking under a microscope. These photos provide just a small peek into the incredible diversity of these microbes. Credit: Liyang Xiong and Lev Tsimring, BioCircuits Institute, UCSD. This floral pattern emerged when a researcher grew two strains of bacteria—Acinetobacter baylyi (red) and Escherichia coli (green)—together for 2 days in a petri dish. A. baylyi are found in soil ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - January 27, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Cells Bacteria Cool Images Infectious Diseases Microbes Source Type: blogs

Fight Against COVID-19 Aided by Sepsis Researchers
Spike proteins on the surface of a coronavirus. Credit: David Veesler, University of Washington. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers from many areas of biomedical science have worked together to learn how this new disease affects the human body, how to prevent its spread, and how to treat it. Severe cases of COVID-19 and cases of sepsis share many symptoms. Sepsis is the body’s overactive and extreme response to an infection. It’s unpredictable and can progress rapidly. Without prompt treatment, it can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. Sepsis has similarities with some cases...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - January 13, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Injury and Illness COVID-19 Infectious Diseases Research Roundup Scientific Process Sepsis Source Type: blogs

Career Conversations: Q & A with Organic Chemist Osvaldo Gutierrez
Osvaldo Gutierrez, Ph.D., was born in Rancho Los Prietos, a small town in central Mexico where his grandmother served as a midwife. Seeing how his grandmother helped people through her work inspired Dr. Gutierrez to pursue a career where he, too, could help people. His family emigrated to the United States when he was young. Despite challenges he faced in a new country, he graduated from high school, attended community college, and was accepted to the University of California, Los Angeles. He originally planned to become a medical doctor, but an undergraduate research experience sparked an interest in chemistry, and he ult...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - January 6, 2021 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Cool Videos Medicines Profiles Source Type: blogs

Year in Review: Our Top Three Posts of 2020
Over the year, we dove into the inner workings of cells, interviewed award-winning researchers supported by NIGMS, shared a cool collection of science-themed backgrounds for video calls, and more. Here, we highlight three of the most popular posts from 2020. Tell us which of this year’s posts you liked best in the comments section below! The Science of Infectious Disease Modeling Spike proteins on the surface of a coronavirus. Credit: David Veesler, University of Washington. What does “modeling the spread” (or “flattening the curve”) mean, and how does it apply to infectious diseases...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - December 30, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Tools and Techniques Cool Tools/Techniques Infectious Diseases Modeling Source Type: blogs

An Enlightening Protein
A fruit fly expressing GFP. Credit: Jay Hirsh, University of Virginia. During the holiday season, twinkling lights are a common sight. But no matter what time of the year, you can see colorful glows in many biology labs. Scientists have enabled many organisms to light up in the dark—from cells to fruit flies and Mexican salamanders. These glowing organisms help researchers better understand basic cell processes because their DNA has been edited to express molecules such as green fluorescent protein. Illuminating Cell Processes A zebrafish fin with GFP glowing (green dots) where gene sox9b is expressed. ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - December 23, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Genes Tools and Techniques Cool Tools/Techniques DNA Proteins Source Type: blogs

Expert Advice on Starting a Lab
During our Starting Your Own Lab webinar, attendees asked so many insightful questions that we ran out of time to respond to all of them. So we asked nine NIGMS early career investigators to tackle the most popular ones in short videos, which were featured on our social media. Now, you can watch the whole series on our YouTube channel. 1. What advice do you have for postdocs searching for a faculty position? 2. What experience and lessons can you share about applying for your first grants? 3. What do you wish you knew before starting your role as a professor? 4. What are your strategies for hiring new lab m...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - December 16, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Cool Videos Scientific Process Training Source Type: blogs

Preparing Students in Puerto Rico for Biomedical Careers
“There’s knowledge to seize in Puerto Rico, and our program is letting students know that they have a really important role to play in solving local problems, that they are part of the solution,” says Isar P. Godreau, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Cayey Institute of Interdisciplinary Research. Dr. Godreau, along with fellow researchers Mariluz Franco-Ortiz, Ph.D., at UPR Cayey Institute of Interdisciplinary Research, and Raymond Louis Tremblay, Ph.D., at UPR Humacao, directs an NIGMS Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) grant. The UPR IPERT supports unde...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - December 9, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Training Source Type: blogs

Teaching Old Cells New Tricks: Insights Into Molecular-Level Aging
When someone mentions aging, you may think of visible changes, like graying hair. Scientists can see signs of aging in cells, too. Understanding how basic cell processes are involved in aging is a first step to help people lead longer, healthier lives. NIGMS-funded researchers are discovering how aging cells change and applying this knowledge to health care. Discovering the Wisdom of Worms C. elegans with a ribosomal protein glowing red and muscle fibers glowing green. Credit: Hannah Somers, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory. Aric Rogers, Ph.D., and Jarod Rollins, Ph.D., assistant professors of regenerati...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - December 2, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Injury and Illness Cellular Processes Research Roundup Source Type: blogs

Pass the Salt: Sodium ’s Role in Nerve Signaling and Stress on Blood Vessels
Most of the mouthwatering dishes in a Thanksgiving feast share a vital ingredient: salt! Though the words “salt” and “sodium” are often used interchangeably, table salt is actually a compound combining the elements sodium and chloride. Table salt is the most common form that sodium takes on Earth. Many other sodium compounds are also useful to us. For instance, you might use baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, in preparing Thanksgiving treats. Sodium compounds are also used in soaps and cosmetics and in producing paper, glass, metals, medicines, and more. The best-known sodium co...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - November 25, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology Cellular Processes Source Type: blogs

Q & A With Nobel Laureate and CRISPR Scientist Jennifer Doudna
Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D. Credit: University of California, Berkeley. The 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D., and Emmanuelle Charpentier, Ph.D., for the development of the gene-editing tool CRISPR. Dr. Doudna shared her thoughts on the award and answered questions about CRISPR in a live chat with NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. Here are a few highlights from the interview. Q: How did you find out that you won the Nobel Prize? A: It’s a little bit of an embarrassing story. I slept through a very important phone call and finally woke up when a reporter called me. I was just c...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - November 18, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Genes Tools and Techniques Cool Tools/Techniques CRISPR DNA Gene Editing Nobel Prize Source Type: blogs

Quiz: How Does Your Knowledge of Life ’s Building Blocks Stack Up?
Cells are the smallest units of life, providing structure and function for all living things, from microorganisms—like bacteria, algae, and yeast—to humans. They come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, and they’re complex machines with many smaller components that work together. Some NIGMS-funded researchers use imaging techniques to peer inside cells, examine their structures, and study how they divide, grow, communicate, and carry out basic functions. Others use biochemical and genetic tests to study how cells interact with their environments, including those that may be toxic. Understanding cells&...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - November 10, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Matt Mills Tags: Cells Cellular Processes Source Type: blogs

Freezing a Moment in Time: Snapshots of Cryo-EM Research
To get a look at cell components that are too small to see with a normal light microscope, scientists often use cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). As the prefix cryo- means “cold” or “freezing,” cryo-EM involves rapidly freezing a cell, virus, molecular complex, or other structure to prevent water molecules from forming crystals. This preserves the sample in its natural state and keeps it still so that it can be imaged with an electron microscope, which uses beams of electrons instead of light. Some electrons are scattered by the sample, while others pass through it and through magnetic lenses to l...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - November 4, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Molecular Structures Tools and Techniques Cellular Imaging Cellular Processes Cool Tools/Techniques Cryo-Electron Microscopy Research Roundup Source Type: blogs

Scientist Interview: Investigating Circadian Rhythms with Michael W. Young
Sudden changes to our schedules, like the end of daylight saving time this Sunday or flying across time zones, often leave us feeling off kilter because they disrupt our bodies’ circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. When these “biological clocks” are disrupted, our bodies eventually readjust. However, some people have conditions that cause their circadian rhythms to be permanently out of sync with their surroundings. Michael W. Young, Ph.D., the Richard and Jeanne Fisher Professor at The Rockefeller University in New York, New Y...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - October 28, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Genes Biological Clocks Cool Videos DNA Genomics Nobel Prize Source Type: blogs

See Your Name With Our Interactive Protein Alphabet!
With our new interactive protein alphabet, you can type your first and last name, or any two words, and see them spelled out in colorful 3D shapes! Proteins are molecules that play important roles in virtually every activity in the body. They form hair and fingernails, carry oxygen in the blood, enable muscle movement, and much more. Proteins are like long necklaces with differently shaped “beads.” Each bead is a small molecule called an amino acid. Some proteins have a few dozen amino acids while others have many thousands of amino acids wound together. As a protein is made, its strands o...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - October 21, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Molecular Structures Proteins Source Type: blogs

How I Got Here: A Webinar on Following Your Own Career Path
There is no single avenue to a scientific career—the paths are as diverse as the people who pursue them. In a recent webinar, two NIGMS-supported researchers shared their unique journeys as scientists and their advice for those seeking careers in the field. The webinar is part of a series from NIGMS created for the research training community—students, postdocs, and faculty. Experts focus on topics from infectious disease modeling to virtual teaching and learning.  Enrique M. De La Cruz, Ph.D., and Tracy Johnson, Ph.D., discuss managing pivotal career decision points, weighing short- and lo...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - October 14, 2020 Category: Research Authors: Chrissa Chverchko Tags: Being a Scientist Cool Videos Source Type: blogs