‘A CELEBRATION OF SCIENCE’
Festival Showcases Intramural Research Program

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins shows flu virus model at opening of Research Festival 2018.
NIH director Dr. Francis Collins shows flu virus model at opening of Research Festival 2018.

“I’ve never seen a time of greater excitement and promise across a broad range of areas from basic to clinical research as what we have right now,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins during opening remarks at the 32nd NIH Research Festival on Sept. 12 in Masur Auditorium.

Research Festival highlights the diversity of scientific disciplines within the NIH Intramural Research Program. The 3-day event featured plenary, concurrent symposia and poster sessions, an award ceremony recognizing outstanding scientific research performed by intramural fellows and several special exhibits highlighting resources available to the research community.

The festival’s activities give intramural researchers opportunities to build networks with each other and come up with new ideas. “That’s really what we’re trying to achieve here,” Collins said.

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BASE HITS
Advances in DNA Editing Are Changing the Field

Dr. David Liu
Dr. David Liu

Dr. David Liu had to think outside the box. Facing limitations from traditional genomeediting techniques, he pursued a multidisciplinary approach that’s revolutionizing the field.

Fusing biology, chemistry and technology, Liu created a more efficient, more precise method called base editing, which has the potential to target and treat genetic diseases.

“He’s doing organic chemistry inside the cell,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, introducing Liu’s recent Dr. Marshall Nirenberg Lecture. “Liu’s research has taken us to the next level in gene editing, not where you cut the DNA and hope something good happens after that, but where you very precisely go in and do an edit of one base to the one you wanted it to be.”

There are more than 60,000 genetic variants associated with disease, most of which are point mutations that could be repaired by a single base change. Base editors can directly, permanently convert one base pair to another without the double-stranded DNA breaks, deletions and rearrangements that often occur with standard genome- editing methods.

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