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NIH Record  
Vol. LXIII, No. 9
  April 29, 2011
Brain Awareness Week Teaches Kids Power of the Human Brain
Once Homeless, NIEHS Fellow Pursues Medical School Dream
Collins Visits Research Sites in South Africa
NIAID Fellows Recognize Outstanding Mentors
Arthritis Advocates Tour NIH
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'A Light for the World’
Vaccine Research Center Celebrates First Decade
Dr. Gary Nabel
VRC director Dr. Gary Nabel has led the center for all of its history and credited its people as its main strength.
When NIH director Dr. Francis Collins called the Vaccine Research Center “not only a light for NIH and the United States, but also a light for the world” on the occasion of its 10th anniversary celebration Mar. 31 at Natcher Bldg., he could have been anticipating the breadth of the succeeding scientific symposium. The 4½-hour session ranged the globe as top experts in the field unpacked everything from the design of sophisticated new molecules built to block HIV infection, to new strategies for creating a universal flu vaccine, to evidence—harvested largely from many thousands of animal fecal samples from the wilds of Africa—of HIV’s primate origins.

Still, the birthday present all in attendance most keenly desired—an effective AIDS vaccine— remains an elusive goal.

Male/Female Differences Offer Insight Into Brain Development

In nearly all neuropsychiatric disorders there are differences in prevalence and age of onset between males and females. In illnesses such as schizophrenia, the symptom profile and response to treatment differs markedly between males and females. Despite these observations, according to speakers at a recent workshop on sex differences in the brain, scientists in many cases are studying mostly males in their animal research on the brain, or including both sexes, but not examining whether they differ.

Brain-based male/female differences—a frequent topic of popular media coverage—in fact offer an invaluable scientific opportunity for learning how the circuitry of the brain develops. Speakers at the NIMH-sponsored workshop, “Sex Differences in Brain, Behavior, Mental Health and Mental Disorders,” offered a series of provocative findings and a view of the potential this work has for revealing how genes, hormones and experience shape the developing brain.