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

Excellence in Science Mentoring Honored in Washington, D.C.
Six NIGMS grantees are among this year’s winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). The award was established by the White House in 1995. This year, it went to 27 individuals and 14 organizations. PAESMEM recipients were honored during a 3-day event in Washington, D.C. The event featured a gala presentation ceremony and a White House tour. In addition, each winner received a $10,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, which manages PAESMEM on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The event also included the first-e...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - September 19, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Juli Rose and Alisa Zapp Machalek Tags: Being a Scientist scientist profiles Training Source Type: blogs

Interview With a Scientist – Rommie Amaro: Computational and Theoretical Model Builder
Many researchers who search for anti-cancer drugs have labs filled with chemicals and tissue samples. Not Rommie Amaro . Her work uses computers to analyze the shape and behavior of a protein called p53. Defective versions of p53 are associated with more human cancers than any other malfunctioning protein. The goal of Amaro’s work is to find ways to restore the function of defective p53 protein in cancer cells. Her research team at the University of California, San Diego, discovered how to do just    that—according to their computer models, at least—by fitting small molecules into a pocket ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - August 15, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Alisa Zapp Machalek and Chris Palmer Tags: Being a Scientist Computers in Biology Structural Biology Cancer Computational Biology Modeling Proteins Source Type: blogs

Americans Fighting the Opioid Crisis in Their Own Backyards
Credit: New York Times article, Jan. 19, 2016. The United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. The rates of opioid addiction, babies born addicted to opioids, and overdoses have skyrocketed in the past decade. No population has been hit harder than rural communities. Many of these communities are in states with historically low levels of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIGMS’ Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program builds research capacities in these states by supporting basic, clinical, and translational research, as well as faculty development and infrastructure impro...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - August 1, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Chris Palmer Tags: Pharmacology Medicines Opioids Pain Source Type: blogs

Interview with a Scientist —Julius Lucks: Shape Seeker
While DNA acts as the hard drive of the cell, storing the instructions to make all of the proteins the cell needs to carry out its various duties, another type of genetic material, RNA, takes on a wide variety of tasks, including gene regulation, protein synthesis, and sensing of metals and metabolites. Each of these jobs is handled by a slightly different molecule of RNA. But what determines which job a certain RNA molecule is tasked with? Primarily its shape. Julius Lucks, a biological and chemical engineer at Northwestern University, and his team study the many ways in which RNA can bend itself into new shapes and how t...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - July 18, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Chris Palmer Tags: Being a Scientist Genetics RNA Source Type: blogs

Interview with a Scientist: Julius Lucks, Shape Seeker
While DNA acts as the hard drive of the cell, storing the instructions to make all of the proteins the cell needs to carry out its various duties, another type of genetic material, RNA, takes on a wide variety of tasks, including gene regulation, protein synthesis, and sensing of metals and metabolites. Each of these jobs is handled by a slightly different molecule of RNA. But what determines which job a certain RNA molecule is tasked with? Primarily its shape. Julius Lucks, a biological and chemical engineer at Northwestern University, and his team study the many ways in which RNA can bend itself into new shapes and how t...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - July 18, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Chris Palmer Tags: Being a Scientist Genetics RNA Source Type: blogs

Interview with a Scientist —Elhanan Borenstein: Metagenomics Systems Biology
Cataloging the human microbiome—the complete collection of bacteria, fungi, archaea, protists, and viruses that live in and on our bodies—is an enormous task. Most estimates put the number of organisms who call us home on par with the number of our own cells. Imagine trying to figure out how the billions of critters influence each other and, ultimately, impact our health. Elhanan Borenstein, a computer scientist-cum-genomicist at the University of Washington, and his team are not only tackling this difficult challenge, they are also trying to obtain a systems-level understanding of the collective effect of all ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - July 11, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Steve Constantinides Tags: Being a Scientist Cell Biology Bacteria Microbiome Source Type: blogs

Interview with a Scientist: Elhanan Borenstein, Metagenomics Systems Biology
Cataloging the human microbiome—the complete collection of bacteria, fungi, archaea, protists, and viruses that live in and on our bodies—is an enormous task. Most estimates put the number of organisms who call us home on par with the number of our own cells. Imagine trying to figure out how the billions of critters influence each other and, ultimately, impact our health. Elhanan Borenstein, a computer scientist-cum-genomicist at the University of Washington, and his team are not only tackling this difficult challenge, they are also trying to obtain a systems-level understanding of the collective effect of all ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - July 11, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Steve Constantinides Tags: Being a Scientist Cell Biology Bacteria Microbiome Source Type: blogs

Molecular Fireworks: How Microtubules Form Inside Cells
       Microtubules sprout from one another. Credit: Petry lab, Princeton University. The red spray pictured here may look like fireworks erupting across the night sky on July 4th, but it’s actually a rare glimpse of tiny protein strands called microtubules sprouting and growing from one another in a lab. Microtubules are the largest of the molecules that form a cell’s skeleton. When a cell divides, microtubules help ensure that each daughter cell has a complete set of genetic information from the parent. They also help organize the cell’s interior and even act as miniature highways fo...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - July 3, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Kathryn Calkins Tags: Cell Biology Cells Cellular Imaging Cellular Processes Cool Images Source Type: blogs

Interview With a Scientist: Andrew Goodman, Separating Causation and Correlation in the Microbiome
You’ve likely heard some variation of the statistic that there are at least as many microbial cells in our body as human cells. You may have also heard that the microscopic bugs that live in our guts, on our skins, and every crevice they can find, collectively referred to as the human microbiome, are implicated in human health. But do these bacteria, fungi, archaea, protists, and viruses cause disease, or are the specific populations of microbes inside us a result of our state of health? That’s the question that drives the research in the lab of Andrew Goodman , associate professor of microbial pathogenesis at ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - June 27, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Steve Constantinides Tags: Being a Scientist Cell Biology Bacteria Microbiome Source Type: blogs

Best Documentary: Cells Record Their Own Lives Using CRISPR
Suppose you were a police detective investigating a robbery. You’d appreciate having a stack of photographs of the crime in progress, but you’d be even happier if you had a detailed movie of the robbery. Then, you could see what happened and when. Research on cells is somewhat like this. Until recently, scientists could take snapshots of cells in action, but they had trouble recording what cells were doing over time. They were getting an incomplete picture of the events occurring in cells. Researchers have started solving this problem by combining some old knowledge—that DNA is spectacularly good at stori...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - June 20, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Kathryn Calkins Tags: Genetics Bacteria Cool Tools/Techniques CRISPR Gene Editing Source Type: blogs

Teens Explore Science and Health through Game Design
Educators often struggle to teach teens about sexual and reproductive health. Hexacago Health Academy (HHA) , an education program from the University of Chicago, leverages the fun activity of gameplay to impart these lessons to young people from Chicago’s South Side community. Funded by the Student Education Partnership Award (SEPA), part of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), in 2015, HHA assists teachers in their goal of helping teen students gain awareness and control over their health and also learn about careers in STEM and health fields. Melissa Gilliam, founder of Ci3. Credit: Anna K...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - June 13, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Juli Rose Tags: Computers in Biology Infectious Disease Training Source Type: blogs

Interview with a Scientist: Michael Summers, Using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance to Study HIV
For more than 30 years, NIGMS has supported the structural characterization of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) enzymes and viral proteins. This support has been instrumental in the development of crucial drugs for antiretroviral therapy such as protease inhibitors. NIGMS continues to support further characterization of viral proteins as well as cellular and viral complexes. These complexes represent the fundamental interactions between the virus and its host target cell and, as such, represent potential new targets for therapeutic development. In this third in a series of three video interviews with NIGMS-funded researc...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - June 6, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Steve Constantinides Tags: Being a Scientist Structural Biology HIV/AIDS Structural Biology Infection Viruses Source Type: blogs

Interview with a Scientist: Wes Sundquist, How the Host Immune System Fights HIV
 For more than 30 years, NIGMS has supported the structural characterization of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) enzymes and viral proteins. This support has been instrumental in the development of crucial drugs for antiretroviral therapy such as protease inhibitors. NIGMS continues to support further characterization of viral proteins as well as cellular and viral complexes. These complexes represent the fundamental interactions between the virus and its host target cell and, as such, represent potential new targets for therapeutic development. In this second in a series of three video interviews with NIGMS-funded re...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - May 30, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Steve Constantinides Tags: Being a Scientist Structural Biology HIV/AIDS Structural Biology Infection Viruses Source Type: blogs

Interview With a Scientist: Irwin Chaiken, Rendering HIV Inert
For more than 30 years, NIGMS has supported the structural characterization of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) enzymes and viral proteins. This support has been instrumental in the development of crucial drugs for antiretroviral therapy such as protease inhibitors. NIGMS continues to support further characterization of viral proteins as well as cellular and viral complexes. These complexes represent the fundamental interactions between the virus and its host target cell and, as such, represent potential new targets for therapeutic development. In this first in a series of three video interviews with NIGMS-funded resear...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - May 23, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Steve Constantinides Tags: Being a Scientist Structural Biology HIV Structural Biology Videos HIV/AIDS Structural Biology Infection Viruses Source Type: blogs

CLAMP Helps Lung Cells Pull Together
Cells covered with cilia (red strands) on the surface of frog embryos. Credit: The Mitchell Lab. The outermost cells that line blood vessels, lungs, and other organs also act like guards, alert and ready to thwart pathogens, toxins, and other invaders that can do us harm. Called epithelial cells, they don’t just lie passively in place. Instead, they communicate with each other and organize their internal structures in a single direction, like a precisely drilled platoon of soldiers lining up together and facing the same way. Lining up this way is crucial during early development, when tissues and organs are forming a...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - May 16, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Kathryn Calkins Tags: Cell Biology Cells Cellular Processes Cool Images Source Type: blogs

Interview with a Scientist: Jeramiah Smith on the Genomic Antics of an Ancient Vertebrate
The first known descriptions of cancer come from ancient Egypt more than 3,500 years ago. Early physicians attributed the disease to several factors, including an imbalance in the body’s humoral fluids, trauma, and parasites. Only in the past 50 years or so have we figured out that mutations in critical genes are often the trigger. The sea lamprey, a slimy, snake-like blood sucker, is proving to be an ideal tool for understanding these mutations. The sea lamprey, often called the jawless fish, is an ancient vertebrate whose ancestor diverged from the other vertebrate lineages (fish, reptiles, birds and mammals) more ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - May 9, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Chris Palmer Tags: Being a Scientist Genetics Chromosomes Cool Creatures Research Organisms Source Type: blogs

Pericytes: Capillary Guardians in the Brain
The long arms of pericytes cells (red) stretch along capillaries (blue) in a mouse brain. Credit: Andy Shih. Nerve cells, or neurons, in our brains do amazing work, from telling our hearts to beat to storing our memories. But neurons cannot operate alone. Many kinds of cells support and regulate neurons and—like neurons—they can come under attack due to injuries or disorders, such as stroke or Alzheimer’s disease. Learning what jobs these cells do and how they respond to disease may show researchers new ways to treat central nervous system disorders. One type of support cell, the pericyte, plays some key...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - May 2, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Kathryn Calkins Tags: Cell Biology Cells Cellular Processes Source Type: blogs

Optogenetics Sparks New Research Tools
Imagine if scientists could zap a single cell (or group of cells) with a pulse of light that makes the cell move, or even turns on or off the cell’s vital functions. Scientists are working toward this goal using a technology called optogenetics. This tool draws on the power of light-sensitive molecules, called opsins and cryptochromes, which are naturally occurring molecules found in the cell membranes of a wide variety of species, from microscopic bacteria and algae to plants and humans. These light-reacting molecules change their shape or activity when they sense light, so they can be used to trigger cellular activ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - April 24, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Barbara Vann Tags: Cell Biology Cells Cellular Processes Cool Tools/Techniques Proteins Source Type: blogs

The Skull ’s Petrous Bone and the Rise of Ancient Human DNA: Q & A with Genetic Archaeologist David Reich
The human petrous bone in the skull protects the inner ear structures. Though it is one of the hardest, densest bones in the body, some portions (such as the area in orange, protecting the cochlea) are denser than others. Possibly because the petrous bone is so dense, DNA within the petrous bone is better preserved than in other bones. In some cases, scientists have extracted more than 100 times more DNA from the petrous bone than other bones, including teeth. Credit: Pinhasi et al., 2015, PLOS ONE. For the past few decades, new evidence about ancient humans—in the form of skeletal remains, tools, and other artifacts...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - April 11, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Chris Palmer Tags: Genetics DNA Evolution Evolutionary Biology Source Type: blogs

Cellular Footprints: Tracing How Cells Move
An engineered cell (green) in a fruit fly follicle (red), or egg case, leaves a trail of fluorescent material as it moves across a fruit fly egg chamber, allowing scientists to trace its path and measure how long it took to complete its journey. Credit: David Bilder, University of California, Berkeley. Cells are the basis of the living world. Our cells make up the tissues and organs of our bodies. Bacteria are also cells, living sometimes alone and sometimes in groups called biofilms. We think of cells mostly as staying in one spot, quietly doing their work. But in many situations, cells move, often very quickly. For exam...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - April 4, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Kathryn Calkins Tags: Cell Biology Bacteria Biofilms Cells Cellular Imaging Source Type: blogs

Genomic Gymnastics of a Single-Celled Ciliate and How It Relates to Humans
Credit: Denise Applewhite. Laura Landweber Grew up in: Princeton, New Jersey Job site: Columbia University, New York City Favorite food: Dark chocolate and dark leafy greens Favorite music: 1940’s style big band jazz Favorite hobby: Swing dancing If I weren’t a scientist I would be a: Chocolatier (see “Experiments in Chocolate” sidebar at bottom of story) One day last fall, molecular biologist Laura Landweber surveyed the Princeton University lab where she’d worked for 22 years. She and her team members had spent many hours that day laboriously affixing yellow Post-it notes to ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 28, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Chris Palmer Tags: Being a Scientist Genetics Cells Cellular Processes Cool Creatures DNA Genomics Research Organisms RNA Source Type: blogs

Have Nucleus, Will Travel (in Three Dimensions)
These two human cells are nearly identical, except that the cell on the left had its nucleus (dyed red) removed. The structures dyed green are protein strands that give cells their shape and coherence. Credit: David Graham, UNC-Chapel Hill. Both of the cells above can scoot across a microscope slide equally well. But when it comes to moving in 3D, the one without the red blob in the center (the nucleus) stalls out. That’s sort of like an Olympic speed skater who wouldn’t be able to perform even a single leap in a figure skating competition. Scientists have known for some time that the nucleus is involved in mov...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 20, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Chris Palmer Tags: Cell Biology Cells Cellular Processes DNA Nucleus Source Type: blogs

Carole LaBonne: Neural Crest Cells and the Rise of the Vertebrates
 The stunning pigmentation of tigers, the massive jaws of sharks, and the hyper-acute vision of eagles. These and other remarkable features of higher organisms (vertebrates) derive from a small group of powerful cells, called neural crest cells, that arose more than 500 million years ago. Molecular biologist Carole LaBonne of Northwestern University in Illinois studies how neural crest cells help give rise to these important vertebrate structures throughout development. Very early during embryonic development, stem cells differentiate into different layers: mesoderm, endoderm, and ectoderm. Each of these layers then giv...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 8, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Chris Palmer Tags: Cell Biology Development Source Type: blogs

Computational Geneticist Discusses Genetics of Storytelling at Sundance Film Festival
About 10 years ago, University of Utah geneticist Mark Yandell developed a software platform called VAAST (Variant Annotation, Analysis & Search Tool) to identify rare genes. VAAST, which was funded by NHGRI, was instrumental in pinpointing the genetic cause of a mystery disease that killed four boys across two generations in an Ogden, UT family. NIGMS has been supporting Yandell’s creation of the next generation of his software, called VAAST 2, for the past few years. The new version incorporates models of how genetic sequences are conserved among different species to improve accuracy with which benign genetic s...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - March 1, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Chris Palmer Tags: Computers in Biology Genetics Source Type: blogs

What Zombie Ants Are Teaching Us About Fungal Infections: Q & A with Entomologists David Hughes and Maridel Fredericksen
  I can still remember that giddy feeling I had seven years ago, when I first read about the “zombie ant.” The story was gruesome and fascinating, and it was everywhere. Even friends and family who aren’t so interested in science knew the basics: in a tropical forest somewhere there’s a fungus that infects an ant and somehow takes control of the ant’s brain, forcing it to leave its colony, crawl up a big leaf, bite down and wait for the sweet relief of death. A grotesque stalk then sprouts from the poor creature’s head, from which fungal spores rain down to infect a new batch of ant...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - February 21, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Chris Palmer Tags: Computers in Biology Cell Biology Cellular Processes Electron Microscopy Infection Source Type: blogs

Interview With a Scientist: Joel Kralj, Electromicist
Every one of our thoughts, emotions, sensations, and movements arise from changes in the flow of electricity in the brain. Disruptions to the normal flow of electricity within and between cells is a hallmark of many diseases, especially neurological and cardiac diseases. The source of electricity within nerve cells (i.e., neurons) is the separation of charge, referred to as voltage, across neuronal membranes. In the past, scientists weren’t able to identify all the molecules that control neuronal voltage. They simply lacked the tools. Now, University of Colorado biologist Joel Kralj has developed a way to overcome th...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - February 13, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Chris Palmer Tags: Being a Scientist Cell Biology Genetics Bacteria Biofilm Source Type: blogs

Feeling Out Bacteria ’s Sense of Touch
Our sense of touch provides us with bits of information about our surroundings that inform the decisions we make. When we touch something, our nervous system transmits signals through nerve endings that feed information to our brain. This enables us to sense the stimulus and take the appropriate action, like drawing back quickly when we touch a hot stovetop. Bacteria are single cells and lack a nervous system. But like us, they rely on their “sense” of touch to make decisions—or at least change their behavior. For example, bacteria’s sense of touch is believed to trigger the cells to form colonies, ...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - February 5, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Kathryn Calkins Tags: Cell Biology Bacteria Biofilms Cellular Processes Source Type: blogs

Notice
Because of a lapse in government funding, the information on this website may not be up to date, transactions submitted via the we​bsite may not be processed, and the agency may not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted. The NIH Clinical Center (the research hospital of NIH) is open. For more details about its operating status, please visit cc.nih.gov. Updates regarding government operating status and resumption of normal operations can be found at USA.gov. (Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences)
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - January 22, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Stephanie Older Tags: Uncategorized Source Type: blogs

Two NIGMS MARC Scholars Receive Prestigious Rhodes Scholarship
Oxford University. Credit: Andrew Shiva, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA. MARC U-STAR Scholars Jasmine Brown and Naomi Mburu were among 32 Americans to recently receive the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University in England. Rhodes Scholars are chosen for their academic and research achievements, as well as their commitment to others and leadership potential. As current MARC U-STAR Scholars, Brown and Mburu are part of an NIGMS research training program for undergraduate junior and senior honor students. MARC is designed to increase the number of people from groups underrepresented in biomedical sciences by prepari...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - January 12, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Juli Rose Tags: Being a Scientist Training Source Type: blogs

The changing needs of a cell: No Membrane? No Problem!
Russian nesting dolls. Credit: iStock. How “membrane-less” organelles help with key cellular functions Scientists have long known that animal and plant cells have specialized subdivisions called organelles.  These organelles are surrounded by a semi-permeable barrier, called a membrane, that both organizes the organelles and insulates them from the rest of the cell’s mix of proteins, salt, and water.  This set-up helps to make cells efficient and productive, aiding in energy production and other specialized functions. But, because of their semi-permeable membranes, organelles can’t regro...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - January 3, 2018 Category: Research Authors: Kathryn Calkins Tags: Cell Biology Cells Cellular Processes Nucleolus Organelles Proteins RNA Source Type: blogs

Zebrafish Scrapbook
Name: Danio rerio Hometown: Freshwater ponds and rivers of India, Nepal, and neighboring countries Occupation: Research Long-term goal: Solving the basic mysteries of life Work site: More than 600 science labs worldwide That’s me and some other zebrafish, swimming in a tank in one of the more than 600 labs around the world that use us to study embryo development, genetics, and all kinds of human diseases. Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Azul. Apart from the tell-tale stripes that give me my nickname, zebrafish, I look a lot like your standard minnow swimming in the shallows of any pond, lake, or river. But I like to thi...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - December 7, 2017 Category: Research Authors: Beth Azar Tags: Genetics Research Organisms; Cool Creatures; Regeneration Source Type: blogs

“Selfish” Gene Enhances Own Transmission at Expense of Organism’s Fertility
These glowing images of yeast (Schizosaccharomyces kambucha) reproductive cells show an example of a selfish gene at work. Here, the selfish gene boosts its chances of being passed to the next generation by producing both a toxin (stained cyan) and an antitoxin (stained magenta). Cells with a copy of the selfish gene are protected by the antitoxin, left and bottom ovals. Those without the selfish gene are destroyed by the toxin. Scientists suspect that selfish genes could be operating throughout many organisms’ genomes, possibly having a major impact on how genetic material is inherited over generations. Credit: Imag...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - November 21, 2017 Category: Research Authors: Kathryn Calkins Tags: Genetics DNA Evolutionary Biology Genes Source Type: blogs

Taking the Guesswork Out of Pain Management
How do you measure pain? A patient’s furrowed brow, a child’s cries or tears—all are signs of pain. But what if the patient suffers from severe dementia and can’t describe what she is feeling or is a young child who can’t yet talk? Caregivers can help read the signs of pain, but their interpretations may differ greatly from patient to patient, because people have different ways of showing discomfort. And when the patient is unconscious, such as during surgery or while in intensive care, the caregiving team has even fewer ways to measure pain. Patients can point to one of the faces on this su...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - November 7, 2017 Category: Research Authors: Barbara Vann Tags: Pharmacology Anesthesiology Medicines Pain Source Type: blogs

Sepsis: The Body ’s Deadly Response to Infection
Your browser does not support iframes. Although not as well-known as other medical conditions, sepsis kills more people in the United States than AIDS, breast cancer, or prostate cancer combined. Sepsis is body-wide inflammation, usually triggered by an overwhelming immune response to infection. Though doctors and medical staff are well-aware of the condition—it is involved in 1 in 10 hospital deaths—the condition is notoriously hard to diagnose. In this video, sepsis expert Sarah Dunsmore, a program director with the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), describes what sepsis is and how to re...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - November 2, 2017 Category: Research Authors: Chris Palmer Tags: Physical Trauma and Sepsis Source Type: blogs

How I Spent My Summer Vacation
One of NIGMS’ primary goals is to provide support to train the next generation of biomedical research scientists. In pursuit of this goal, NIGMS aims to enhance the diversity of the scientific workforce and develop research capacities throughout the country. NIGMS-administered training programs at the undergraduate level provide support for trainees underrepresented in the biomedical sciences to develop skills to successfully transition into doctoral programs. Three unique NIGMS-administered undergraduate-focused programs are highlighted below. Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) grant awards help u...
Source: Biomedical Beat Blog - National Institute of General Medical Sciences - October 23, 2017 Category: Research Authors: Christa Reynolds Tags: Being a Scientist BUILD Training Source Type: blogs