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Vol. LXI, No. 22
October 30, 2009
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‘Week of Excitement’
NIH Research Festival Turns 22

On the front page...

Like a vast cousinage from the tribe of research scientists, hundreds of NIH’s principal investigators, postdocs, fellows, students and colleagues from sister agencies gathered in Masur Auditorium for the Oct. 6 kickoff of the 22nd annual NIH Research Festival.

“Welcome to a week of excitement,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins in remarks opening the 4-day event.

Continued...


  NIH director Dr. Francis Collins opens the 22nd Research Festival, the Intramural Research Program’s annual showcase of its science.  
  NIH director Dr. Francis Collins opens the 22nd Research Festival, the Intramural Research Program’s annual showcase of its science.  

Thousands of scientists and staff attended this year’s festival in 19 symposia, 427 posters, 18 special exhibits on resources for intramural research, a presentation of research awards, food, music fairs and more.

The festival is an annual opportunity to showcase the Intramural Research Program’s expertise, talent and verve. The Research Festival lets all the scientists on the NIH campus check out work that has something in common with their own—or something completely different.

As part of his opening remarks, Collins spoke on progeria and a clinical trial now in progress.

This trial, he said, is “an example of translational research.”

While director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, Collins led the multi-institution research team that in 2003 discovered the genetic basis of progeria, a rare disease that causes the most dramatic form of premature aging. Children with progeria usually do not live past age 12 or 13; the cause of death is usually cardiovascular disease.

Jana Kainerstorfer (r) explains her research to two interested visitors. Dr. Naveen Bojjireddy (l) talks about his fluorescence-based screening technique
Jana Kainerstorfer (r) explains her research to two interested visitors. Dr. Naveen Bojjireddy (l) talks about his fluorescence-based screening technique

An NIH natural history study in 2005-2006 led to the current trial, said Collins.

“Six years ago,” he continued, “progeria was a death sentence. Now all the kids in the world with progeria who could come to Boston [the current trial’s location center] are on [the trial] drug.”

NIH deputy director for intramural research Dr. Michael Gottesman (c) congratulates FARE recipients Leila Maria Taher (l), a visiting fellow ,and research fellow Dr. Yang Huang, both of NLM. The Fellows Award for Research Excellence began in 1995 to provide recognition for outstanding scientific research performed by intramural postdoctoral fellows.
NIH deputy director for intramural research Dr. Michael Gottesman (c) congratulates FARE recipients Leila Maria Taher (l), a visiting fellow ,and research fellow Dr. Yang Huang, both of NLM. The Fellows Award for Research Excellence began in 1995 to provide recognition for outstanding scientific research performed by intramural postdoctoral fellows.
Researchers also hope to learn whether progeria has any relevance to normal aging.

Following Collins’ presentation, the first plenary session covered “Influenza A—Pathogenesis and Pandemics.”

The influenza A virus, which includes the new form of H1N1, shows enormous adaptability in the way it evades immunity built up in the human population. The session also covered the phenomena of “antigenic drift” (one of the ways the virus makes self-protective changes) and new pandemic strains; pathogenesis (the development of the disease in its human and animal hosts); and vaccine development, including new methods to probe the antibody response to vaccines.

Volunteers are now needed for a natural history flu study, NIAID’s Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger said. The goals are to better understand viral and host factors contributing to clinical illness and the pathogenesis of the flu. NIH will partner with the Washington Hospital Center in this national, multi-center protocol.
At the first plenary session, “Influenza A—Pathogenesis and Pandemics,” Dr. Gary Nabel of NIAID discusses the yearly costs of flu vaccines.
At the first plenary session, “Influenza A—Pathogenesis and Pandemics,” Dr. Gary Nabel of NIAID discusses the yearly costs of flu vaccines.
Fine weather favored the scientists migrating from Masur to the Natcher Bldg., which hosted several festival events including poster displays, food and music fairs and the ceremony for the 2010 Fellows Award for Research Excellence.

FARE, now in its 14th year, recognizes outstanding scientific research performed by intramural fellows with less than 5 years total research experience at NIH. This year, 239 winners were chosen out of nearly 1,000 applicants. NIHRecord Icon

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