“I hope that one day I’m able to increase our understanding of evolution, and I also hope to increase access to research. I want others to know that this space is open to people who look like me, who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and who are underrepresented in the sciences,” says Nkrumah Grant, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research associate (postdoc) in microbiology and molecular genetics at Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing.
Dr. Grant’s work receives support from the NIGMS Diversity Supplement Program (DSP), which is designed to improve the recruitment and training of promising researchers from diverse backgrounds. Diversifying the scientific workforce can lead to new approaches to research questions, increased recruitment of diverse volunteers for clinical studies, an improved capacity to address health disparities, and many other benefits.
Did you know that kids aren’t the only ones playing around in sandboxes? The term sandbox may evoke a childhood memory of sensory play, but it’s also used to describe a virtual environment where someone can learn from digital products.
At least 1.7 million adults in the United States develop a life-threatening condition called sepsis each year. Sepsis is an overwhelming or impaired whole-body immune response that’s most often caused by bacterial infections. However, it can also be caused by viral infections, such as COVID-19 or influenza; fungal infections; or other injuries, including physical trauma. Anyone can get sepsis, but there’s a higher risk for some people, such as those who are ages 65 and older, who have certain medical conditions, or who have recently experienced severe illness or hospitalization.
The early symptoms of sepsis can include fever, chills, rapid breathing or heart rate, disorientation, and clammy or sweaty skin. Because other conditions also have these symptoms, sepsis can be difficult to diagnose. NIGMS-supported researchers are working to increase our understanding of sepsis so that doctors can identify it more quickly and treat it more effectively.
Have you ever wondered what happens inside your body when you take a medicine? An area of pharmacology called pharmacokinetics is the study of precisely that. Here, we follow a medicine as it enters the body, finds its therapeutic target (also called the active site), and then eventually leaves the body.
To begin, a person takes or is given a dose of medicine by a particular route of administration, such as by mouth (oral); through the skin (topical), mucous membranes (nasal), or lungs (inhaled); or through a needle into a muscle (intramuscular) or into a vein (intravenous). Sometimes medicines can be administered right where they’re needed, like a topical antibiotic ointment on a scrape, but most medicines need to enter the blood to reach their therapeutic target and be effective. Those are the ones we’ll continue following, using the common pharmacokinetic acronym ADME:
“We scientists know very little of what can be known—I find that invigorating,” says Dylan Burnette, Ph.D., an associate professor of cell and developmental biology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. “Most people find it exhausting, but I’m comfortable with not knowing all of biology’s secrets.” In an interview, Dr. Burnette shared his lab’s work on muscle cells, the knowledge he hopes readers take away from his research, and some advice to future scientists about being comfortable being wrong.
Q: How did you first become interested in science?
A: Unlike with other subjects (it took me a long time to learn how to read), I excelled at science. In third-grade science class, I knew every answer on the tests. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I did well because I found it interesting. I decided I wanted to become a medical doctor that year. Back then, doctors were the only type of person who I thought did any type of science.
The TU B2D is one of several NIGMS-supported B2Ds, which are dedicated to developing a diverse pool of well-trained biomedical scientists who will transition from master’s degree programs to research-based doctoral degree programs. B2Ds partner with Ph.D.-granting institutions to help aid students in the master’s-to-Ph.D. transition. Students in all B2Ds earn a thesis-based master’s degree and receive training to design, conduct, and analyze experiments effectively. At the same time, these students learn how to build successful applications for doctoral programs, whether they apply to the B2D’s partner school or another Ph.D. program.
We’re excited to announce our new partnership with Kahoot! Although we aren’t new Kahoot! gamers, we’ve recently partnered with them to provide you quizzes from across the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a single place. “Reaching young people to teach them about biomedical science and inspire them to pursue careers in science is critically important to ensuring a diverse and vibrant biomedical research enterprise,” says NIGMS Director Jon Lorsch, Ph.D. “Our partnership with Kahoot! expands NIH’s STEM offerings, providing educators with free, interactive learning tools to spark student interest in health sciences.”
This August marks 10 years of the blog! Throughout the past decade, we’ve brought you blog posts that explore basic science topics, quiz your knowledge, showcase cool images, and more! Some of our most-read favorites include:
Pharmacology is the study of how molecules, such as medicines, interact with the body. Scientists who study pharmacology are called pharmacologists, and they explore the chemical properties, biological effects, and therapeutic uses of medicines and other molecules. Their work can be broken down into two main areas:
Pharmacokinetics is the study of how the body acts on a medicine, including its processes of absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME).
Pharmacodynamics is the study of how a medicine acts in the body—both on its intended target and throughout all the organs and tissues in the body.
Copper pipes, copper wires, copper…food? Copper is not only a useful metal for conducting electricity, but it’s also an essential element we need in our bodies for a variety of important activities—from metabolizingiron to pigmenting skin.
Copper is required to keep your body going. Enzymes that use copper are called cuproenzymes, and they catalyze a wide range of reactions, including making neurotransmitters and connective tissue. The element is found on the Statue of Liberty’s covering, in wiring and electronics, and in the blue blood of crustaceans. Credit: Compound Interest CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Click to enlarge.