Documentary Showcasing CC Set to Air This Spring

A film crew from the Discovery Channel gets
A film crew from the Discovery Channel gets footage from the Clinical Center.

Most NIH’ers know about the extraordinary research happening inside the Clinical Center. Soon, the public will also know, thanks to a Discovery Channel documentary.

On May 18 at 9 p.m., the cable channel will begin a 3-part series First in Human: the Trials of Bldg. 10. Directed by John Hoffman and executive produced by Hoffman and Dyllan McGee, the film will chronicle patients, their families, doctors and researchers as patients undergo experimental treatments at the hospital.

Actor Jim Parsons will narrate the documentary, which will air in 2-hour segments.

“The NIH Clinical Center’s more than 60-year history has resulted in remarkable medical advances, from the first use of chemotherapy to treat cancer, to the development of the technique to keep the blood supply clean and safe from viruses,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins. “For millions of patients around the world, it is known as the ‘House of Hope.’”

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Breaking the Biological Cycle of Addiction

Dr. Nora Volkow
Dr. Nora Volkow

The urge is strong to eat that cookie and perhaps another; you can’t resist the temptation. Even before that first sweet bite, the anticipation has stimulated the reward system in your brain. Are we at all in control of our food cravings or are there more powerful forces at work?

The desire for certain foods, especially those high in sugar and fat, in some people can be almost as strong as for drugs of abuse. But while evidence shows addiction is a disease of the brain, “if we believe we are [in control], we are much more likely to have an impact on our behaviors,” said NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow at a recent Demystifying Medicine lecture in Bldg. 50.

Drugs and foods increase dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain associated with reward, triggering processes that lead to conditioning, which in those that are vulnerable can result in addiction, said Volkow. But the dopamine system also has a more primitive function, activating the body’s instinct to seek nutrients for survival and, working in conjunction with hormones and peptides, modulating hunger and satiety.

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