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NIH Record  
Vol. LXVI, No. 1
  January 3, 2014
 Features
NIH Observes Native American Heritage Month
NIBIB-Supported Technologies Inspire Wonder at Science Fair
NHLBI’s Chung Seeks to Slow Aging
Five from NIH Named AAAS Fellows
NIH Revels in Charitable, Holiday Spirit
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Budget Uncertainty Again Clouds ACD Meeting

The 107th meeting of the advisory committee to the NIH director (ACD) Dec. 5-6 was much like the last half-dozen of these biannual events: brimming with scientific promise—especially regarding the BRAIN Initiative at NIH—but darkened by prospects of flat or reduced budgets.

At the outset of his state-of-the-NIH presentation to the group, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins described new guitar pick-shaped lapel pins (created by an outside group, United for Medical Research) popping up around NIH and even on Capitol Hill that tout “Hope at NIH.” These arose not only out of Collins’ reputation as a musician, but also as “insignia that we believe in what we are doing,” said Collins.

“You want to pick NIH and you want to pick hope,” he said, inviting the group to wear the symbols with pride.

Collins called 2013 “the worst year in recorded history in terms of NIH’s ability to support grant applications.” The success rate was between 1 in 6 or 7, or about 15 percent, which he called “unsustainable—there’s nothing helpful about that…I can’t tell the difference between the 14th and 17th percentile, so it’s got to be incredibly demoralizing” to the scientific community, he said.
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Gut Reactions
Beyond Digestive Issues: Can Probiotics Boost Our Immune System?

Dr. Patricia Hibberd (l) of Harvard chats with NCCAM’s Dr. Jack Killen prior to her lecture.
Dr. Patricia Hibberd (l) of Harvard chats with NCCAM’s Dr. Jack Killen prior to her lecture.
In recent years, an increasingly wide variety of probiotics have sprung up on store shelves among the bottles of dietary supplements. They’ve also invaded our foods, from yogurt to pickles. Where did probiotics come from? Might they really have immune defense properties? Are they safe?

“It’s getting hard to avoid them,” said Dr. Patricia Hibberd, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and chief of the division of global health in the pediatric department at Massachusetts General Hospital, speaking at a recent NCCAM lecture. “They’re in chocolate…cookies, sauerkraut, special teas and most recently in bread.”
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