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By: Debbie | February 8 2012 | Category: Issues in Education, Research & Technology, Tidbits for Teachers

Digital Learning Day Garfield LogoOn February 1, almost 2 million students and 15,000 teachers from 39 states and the District of Columbia celebrated the very first national Digital Learning DayExternal Web Site Policy.  The purpose of the event, hosted by the Alliance for Excellent EducationExternal Web Site Policy, was to show how technology is providing exciting, high-quality educational opportunities in classrooms across the country.

Technology can give students and teachers the chance to virtually visit museums and national parks, listen to lectures and educational programs, and connect with their counterparts in other places around the country and the world. Participants in Digital Learning Day connected with four schools via Skype and saw videos about innovative ways students are learning with the help of technology. For more about these schools and the videos, go to The 2013 will be announced soon!

To learn more about Digital Learning DayExternal Web Site Policy go to: Web Site Policy

Blog post written by Lisa Strauss

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education through multiple channels:
By: Debbie | February 7 2012 | Category: Issues in Education, Research & Technology, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

Today (February 7), President Obama will host the second annual White House Science Fair celebrating the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. The President will also announce key steps that the Administration and its partners are taking to help more students excel in math and science, and earn degrees in these subjects. You can watch the President’s remarks live at 11:25 a.m. EST at

Visit the live White House event at You can also join the live Facebook discussion at Web Site Policy and follow the White House Science Fair on Twitter via the hashtag #WHScienceFair

Over 100 students from over 45 states are heading to the White House with their robots, research and new inventions for the second ever White House Science Fair.

The White House is calling on folks across the country to join the Science Fair virtually! While students at the White House share their latest inventions--from a robotic arm to waste-reducing dissolvable sugar packets -- we want to hear about the projects you've worked on. They want you to share your favorite science fair project and share pictures on Twitter with the hashtag #WHScienceFair or through a form on They will display some of their favorite submissions on

Here’s how it works:

  • Starting now, you can ask your questions on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat. We'll also be using the hashtag #WHScienceFair
  • At 2:00 p.m. today *February 7) Bill Nye the Science Guy (@TheScienceGuy) and Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (@WhiteHouseOSTP) will answer your questions live on Twitter. Follow the Q&A through the @WHLive Twitter account.
The White House Science Fair celebrates the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. At the fair, President Obama will view student projects and speak on the importance of STEM education. The President will also announce key steps that the Administration is taking to help more students excel in math and science, and earn degrees in these subjects.

The National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute Director, Dr. Harold Varmus is among the senior administrative officials who will be attending the science fair.

A sampling of the exhibits at the White House Science Fair include:

  • Student “Making” and Starting Small Business to Sell his Invention.   Fourteen year old Joey Hudy from Phoe nix , Arizona is already a Maker Faire veteran.  He invented an Extreme Marshmallow Cannon and an LED Cube Microcontroller Shield, which he has exhibited at Maker Faires in New York, San Francisco, and Detroit.  He received 2 Editors Choice Awards from Maker Faire, and has started a small business selling the microcontroller (Arduino) shield kits on several websites.  As the World's Largest Do-It-Yourself Festival, Maker Faire is the premier event for grassroots American inn ovation.
  • Designing a More Efficient Way to Collect Solar Energy.  Aidan Dwyer, a middle school student hailing from Northport, New York, won first place in the American Museum of Natural History’s 2011 Young Naturalist Award for his study of a more efficient way to collect solar energy.  Modeling the natural design of tree limbs which Aidan predicted must serve a benefit for the trees to optimize sun collected to feed photosynthesis in the short, dark days of winter, Aidan worked to devise a potentially more efficient way to collect solar energy.
  • Seventeen-Year Old Girl Designing Targeted Cancer Treatment.  Angela Zhang, a seventeen year old senior from Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, California, won the $100,000 Grand Prize in the Individual category of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology for using nanotechnology to eradicate cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are responsible for initiating and driving tumor growth yet are often resistant to current cancer therapies.  In her research, Angela aimed to design a nanosystem to target drug delivery to these cancer stem cells, which could potentially help overcome cancer resistance, minimize undesirable side effects, and allow for real-time monitoring of treatment efficacy.
  • Teenage CEO Inventing Dissolvable Sugar Packets to Reduce Waste.  Hayley Hoverter, a 16 years old student from Downtown Business Magnet High School in Los Angeles, California, won first place at the 2011 Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship's National Challenge for her idea for patent-pending ecologically conscious dissolvable sugar packets.  Hayley, now CEO of Sweet (dis)SOLVE, started her business as a part of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s (NFTE's) business plan competition.
  • Improving the Environment One Community at a Time. Isabel Steinhoff, Rico Bowman, Genevieve Boyle, and Mina Apostadiro, of Kohala Middle School in Kapaau, Hawaii, took first place in the grade 6-8 division of the Siemens “We Can Change the World” Challenge, for their household battery recycling effort to collect 6,000 batteries in 60 days.  The team, named 6000 in 60, embarked on a campaign to improve their community’s use and disposal of batteries by giving local people information on the environmental harm of batteries disposed improperly along with providing local opportunities for recycling.
  • Fifteen-Year Old Student Modeling Brain Control of a Robotic Arm.  Anand Srinivasan, a fifteen-year old sophomore from Roswell High School in Roswell, Georgia, qualified as a top 15 Finalist in the 2011 Google Science Fair.  Anand used data recorded via electroencephalography (EEG) from his brain and, after coupling it with the custom software that he wrote, used it to control a home-built robotic arm.  Anand believes that this technology could be put to use for amputees and patients suffering from paralysis and muscular dystrophy.
  • Team of Girl Scouts Seeking Patent on Prosthetic Hand Device Which Enables a Young Girl to Write.  A group of middle school-aged Girl Scouts from Ames, Iowa, including Gaby Dempsey, Mackenzie Gewell, and Kate Murray developed a patent-pending prosthetic hand device, winning them the inaugural Global Innovation Award at the FIRST LEGO League competition, beating out nearly 200 other submissions.  Their invention was in response to the need of a little old girl in Du luth, Georgia, enabling her to write for the first time although she was bo rn without fingers on her right hand.  Their patent pending BOB-1 has earned the girls the Heartland Red Cross Young Heroes Award, scholarships at Iowa State University College of Engineering, recognition on the Floor of the Iowa and the US House of Representatives, and the title of finalists for the 2011 Pioneer Hi-Bred Iowa Women of Innovation Awards.
  • Using Genes to Improve Farming< /em>.  Dyersburg High School senior, Maryanna McClure, made Tennessee Future Farmers of America history by becoming the first student from the Tennessee FFA Association to win the National FFA Agriscience Fair, placing first in Division II of the Zoology event, for her study of Cotswold sheep genetics.  Maryanna breeds, raises, and markets sheep and their fleece and was inspired to do a project to research how to breed the natural color of sheep back into the industry.  The National FFA Agriscience Fair is a competition for FFA members grade 7-12 who conduct a scientific research project pertaining to the agriculture and food science industries.
  • Young Women Rocketing to Nationals.  Janet Nieto and Ana Karen of Presidio, Texas were members of the Presidio High School Rocketry Team that competed as a National Finalist in the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) in 2009, 2010, and 2011.  Gwynelle Condino, a 7th grade student at Lucy Franco Middle School, also of Presidio, Texas, is the leader of her TARC team this year.  All three girls have successfully competed in a number of rocketry challenges and have attended the NASA Student Launch Initiative Advanced Rocketry program.
  • High School Student Developing System to Detect Nuclear Threats.  The Davidson Academy of Nevada student Taylor Wilson, 17, of Reno, Nevada conducted research on novel techniques for detecting nuclear threats and developed an environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and highly sensitive system capable of detecting small quantities of nuclear material. Taylor’s system, which won him the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award and Best of Category in Physics, could be used as a monitor at ports to scan cargo containers for Uraniam-235, Weapons Grade Plutonium, and Highly Enriched Uranium.
  • Young Students Developing a Sanitizing Lunchbox.  Si xth graders Ma’Kese Wesley and Isis Thompson and their LEGO robotics team from the ACE Collegium Campus in Kansas City, Missouri researched ways in which they could improve food safety.  Their invention, a UV-light lunchbox, sanitizes food between when it is packed in the morning and a student opens to eat it at lunchtime.  A UV light, which is turned on by a darkness-detecting sensor when the lunchbox is closed, kills bacteria that could make the food unsafe to eat.  The FIRST LEGO League competition aims to engage kids ages nine to fourteen in engineering.
  • Succeeding at Science Even in Difficult Circumstances: Samantha Garvey, 18, of Bay Shore, New York, attends Brentwood High School -Sonderling Center in Brentwood, New York.  From a field of over 1,800 applicants, Samantha has been named a semifinalist for her Intel Science Talent Search 2012 environmental sciences project examining the effect of physical environment and predators on a specific species of mussel.  Despite personal obstacles, Samantha believes her education will bring her and her family a better life.
  • Student Designing a Robot to Connect Senior Citizens with their Families.  Concerned with the loneliness of seniors at his grandmother’s senior living center, fourteen-year old Salesianum High School (Wilmington, DE) student Benjamin Hylak of West Grove, Pennsylvania, built an interactive robot, which qualified him as a BROADCOM Masters 2011 Finalist.  His telepresence robot which moves around the center and allows seniors to connect via Skype with their family a n d friends when they are unable to visit in person, earned him second place in the BROADCOM Masters Engineering Category.
  • Building an Award-Winning Robot and Learning Entrepreneurial Lessons.   Morgan Ard, Titus Walker, and Robert Knight, III, 8th grade students at Monroeville Jr. High School in Monroeville, Alabama won high honors at the South BEST robotics competition.  BEST teams mimic industry by designing and developing a product and deli vering it to market, including a marketing presentation, engineering notebook, trade-show style exhibit booth and robot competition.   Through the experience, these middle school students not only learned the innovation and engineering  necessary to develop an award-winning robot, but the marketing and business  skills that spark true entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Writing a Video Game that Focuses on Saving the Environment.  Eleven year old Hannah Wyman who attends St. Anna's School in Leominster, Massachusetts, won the grand prize in her age group (9-12) for her video game Toxic, in Microsoft's first-ever U.S.  Kodu Cup. In Hannah’s game, which is now available for free on the Kodu Game Lab site, a player must solve puzzles and collect coins in order to remove soot from trees, zap pollution clouds to clean the air, and convince friends to plant more trees, all in an effort to save the environment.
  • Developing a Portable Disaster Relief Shelter. Jessica D’Esposito, Colton Newton and Anna Woolery from Petersburg, Indiana are representing the Pike Central High School InvenTeam, one of fifteen schools selected nationwide.  They won a grant from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to develop a lightweight, portable disaster relief shelter, designed to be complete with a water purification system and a renewable energy source to power an LED light, which could be used after disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, or tornadoes to house people who have been displaced.
  • Detroit Students Imagining the Energy Efficient City of the Future.  The Paul Robeson/Malcolm X Academy student team from Detroit, Michigan, competed in the Michigan Regional Contest of the National Engineers Week Future City Competition for the second year in a row.  Lucas Cain Beal, Jayla Mae Dogan, and Ashley Cassie Thomas, all aged 13, were part of a team that won the Excellence in Engineering Award at the 2012 Michigan Regional Competition focused on designing a city around the theme of "Fuel Your Future: Imagine New Ways to Meet Our Energy Needs and Maintain a Healthy Planet."   After being named Best Rookie Team in 2011, the students had to overcome losing their school to a fire.  Despite the adversity and having to merge with another school, the students were energized to take on the Future City challenge again, saying “(Future City) helps me make a better city to live in.”
  • Re-Designing a Helmet to Better Protect U.S. Troops.  Eleven-year old Jack Dudley of Stone Hill Middle School and Sydney Dayyani of Belmont Ridge Middle School are members of a Virginia team that designed a military helmet to protect soldiers from traumatic brain injuries on the battlefield due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs).  Both young students have previously competed in national science competitions and this past year won first place in the 2011 Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision competition with their HEADS UP! Helmet. The helmet is a redesign of the standard-issue military helmet and is equipped with bullet and shrapnel-stopping gels and highly sensitive temperature and air pressure sensors to notify medical personnel of the presence and level of brain injury.
  • Designing a Mine Detecting Device.  Marian Bechtel, a 17-year old Hempfield High School student from Lancaster, Pennsylvania was inspired to take on the serious issue of abandoned landmines which are still found in many place s around the world and investigated an innovative method for safe demining. Mar ian’s design could lead to a simple, cheap, and reliable humanitarian demining tool and earned Marian honors as a Finalist at the 2011 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.  Marian also won a second place award from the American Intellectual Property Law Association, a merit award from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, a $1,000 award from the U.S. Army, and has recently been name d an Intel Science Talent Search 2012 finalist.
  • Developing A Concussion-Detecting Helmet to Combat Sports Injuries.  Fifteen year old Peninsula High School (Rolling Hill Estates, CA) freshman Braeden Benedict from Rancho Palos Verdes, California developed a low-cost impact detection device for use on youth and high school contact sport helmets.  Braeden’s invention, winning him the top prize of America’s 2011 Top Young Scientist  at the 2011 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, will allow coaches and trainers to be alerted that a player has received a hit with enough force to cause a concussion.
  • Student Programmer Creating Dynamic Educational Video Game.  Jasper Hugunin, a thirteen year old eighth grade student from Island Middle School on Mercer Island, Washington, developed a video game which introduces players to programming concepts as they provide instructions to guide a robot through increasingly challenging mazes.   This clever design of “Robot Commander” won Jasper the Playable Game, Open Platform and Playable Game, and Incorporating STEM Themes categories at the National STEM Video Game Challenge.
  • Exploring Improvements to Cancer Treatments by Overcoming Chemotherapy Resistance.  Shree Bose, a 17-year old senior at Fort Worth Country Day School in Fort Worth, Texas, took top honors at the 2011 Google Science Fair for her discovery of a way to improve ovarian cancer treatment for patients when they have built up a resistance to certain chemotherapy drugs. Her conclusions hold tremendous potential for the improvement of cancer chemotherapy treatment and for future research. Shree has presented her research at numerous international competitions and has been honored as one of Glamour Magazine's 21 Amazing Young Women of 2011, spoken at TEDxWomen 2011, and served as a panelist at Google Zeitgeist.

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education through multiple channels:
By: Debbie | January 31 2012 | Category: Research & Technology, Science and the Arts, Science Lite, Tidbits for Teachers

National STEM Video Challenge logoInspired by the Educate to Innovate Campaign, President Obama’s initiative to promote a renewed focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education, the National STEM Video Game ChallengeExternal Web Site Policy is a multi-year competition whose goal is to motivate interest in STEM learning among America’s youth by tapping into students’ natural passion for playing and making video games. Submissions will be accepted through March 12, 2012.

The 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge is launched in partnership with Digital PromiseExternal Web Site Policy, a new initiative created by the President and Congress, supported through the Department of Education. The initiative is designed to unlock the promise of breakthrough technologies to transform teaching and learning.

To learn more about this exciting challenge, visit the National STEM Video Game Challenge Web siteExternal Web Site Policy.

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education through multiple channels:
By: Debbie | December 6 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Research & Technology, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

Confocal micrograph of lesions in human cervical epithelium infected with human papilloma virus (HPV16). Early viral proteins (green) bind to and re-orgainse the ketatin filaments (red) towards the edge of the cell. Cell nuclei are stained with Dapi (blue).Have you check out The Cell: An Image LibraryExternal Web Site Policy? It is a freely accessible, easy-to-search, public repository of thousands of reviewed and annotated images, videos, and animations of cells from a variety of organisms, showcasing cell architecture, intracellular functionalities, and both normal and abnormal processes.

This project is supported by an award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health, to the American Society for Cell BiologyExternal Web Site Policy.

Above Image:

Confocal micrograph of lesions in human cervical epithelium infected with human papilloma virus (HPV16). Early viral proteins (green) bind to and re-orgainse the ketatin filaments (red) towards the edge of the cell. Cell nuclei are stained with Dapi (blue).

Attribution Non-Commercial; No Derivatives. This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivatives License. View License DeedExternal Web Site Policy | View Legal CodeExternal Web Site Policy

By: Debbie | November 16 2011 | Category: Issues in Education, Research & Technology, Science News, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

Journal of Emerging Investigators Promotional ImageCalling all future scientists--a group of Harvard University graduate students has created the new Journal of Emerging Investigators (JEI). Students in middle and high school can submit their own original research and review articles to JEI--an open-access journal focused on the natural and physical sciences. Students can learn about the scientific review process and receive feedback from Ph.D. students working in specific areas of research. Top submissions will be accepted for publication in their online journal so that emerging young scientists like you can be recognized and your exciting work can be shared with the public.

JEI is now accepting submissions. You can learn more about this exciting new journal at:  www.emerginginvestigators.orgExternal Web Site Policy.
By: Debbie | September 16 2011 | Category: Issues in Education, NIH Resources, Research & Technology, Tidbits for Teachers

Intramural NIAID Research Opportunities Image of StudentsThe National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the largest Institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is seeking students with a passion to improve global health in the 21st century through a research career in allergy, immunology, or infectious diseases.

NIAID is looking for applicants for its Intramural NIAID Research Opportunities (INRO) program, which provides an invaluable opportunity for students with strong academic standing who are from populations underrepresented in biomedical research.

Candidates who are college-level seniors, medical school students, or doctoral candidates, and from a population underrepresented in the biomedical sciences are eligible.

During the 4-day program, students will hear lectures from world-renowned scientists and interview for potential research training positions at the Institute’s Maryland and Montana laboratories. This year’s program marks 10 years of INRO and takes place in Bethesda, MD, on the NIH campus, February 6–9, 2012. Students’ expenses for travel, hotel accommodations, and meals will be paid.

You can help us find the best and brightest applicants for INRO 2011 by doing the following:

    Add a link to the INRO program from your Web site.
    Print the program flyer and post it on a bulletin board.
Applications will be accepted from through October 15, 2011. Interested students can apply online through the program’s Web site.

Read success stories from previous INRO participants!
By: Debbie | March 2 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Research & Technology, Tidbits for Teachers

The application process is now open for the “2011 National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) Summer Workshop in Genomics.” The popular “Short Course” will be held July 24 – 29, 2011 on the main campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

This intensive six-day course for educators is designed to update collegiate instructors (biology and related disciplines) on current topics in genetics and genomic science. A majority of the course is researcher-taught affording attendees a unique opportunity to learn from leaders currently working in the field.

Details on course content, educator eligibility, and application guidelines are below. The NHGRI Summer Workshop in Genomics home page includes the 2010 course syllabus, a photograph of the 2010 class, and other helpful materials.

About the NHGRI Summer Workshop in Genomics

This weeklong course is designed to update biology instructors, as well as other instructors and researchers in related disciplines, on genomic science. The course focuses on the continuing effort to find the genetic basis of various diseases and disorders, and current topics on the ethical, legal and social implications of genomics. This course is especially intended for college and university faculty seeking to update their curriculum or to develop new courses related to genetics.

Workshop speakers consist of leading National Institutes of Health (NIH) genomic researchers. The course features extended tours of working laboratories at the NIH, structured lectures, and highly interactive sessions. Sessions on the microbiome, epigenetics, nanotechnology, animal models, current sequencing strategies, grant writing, and similar topics will be part of this year’s course.
Room and board are paid by NHGRI; the participant or the participant’s institution will pay travel costs both to, and from, the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland.


This course is designed to update instructors who (1) train students from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in health related sciences and instructors from institutions that predominantly train students with disabilities and/or (2) train students from disadvantaged backgrounds including certain rural and inner-city environments.  For specific information on federal guidelines, see Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering and Poverty Guidelines, Research, and Measurement. Instructors from universities and two-and four-year colleges are eligible. 

How To Apply

To apply, email course director Jeffre Witherly, Ph.D., for application materials at

All aspects of the Workshop registration must be completed to be considered in the application process. All applications must be submitted electronically, and will be accepted until 5pm ET on Friday, March 25, 2011. Applicants will be notified of final application status by email by April 1, 2011.  Alumni of the Workshop who attended before 2005 are invited to apply.

More Information

Jeff Witherly, Ph.D.
Senior Advisor
National Human Genome Research Institute
National Institutes of Health
Building 31, Room B1B55
Bethesda, MD 20892

Phone: (301) 402-7333
Fax: (301) 480-3066
By: Cynthia | December 21 2010 | Category: Research & Technology, Science News

illustration of the ideas emerging from a brainAn NIH-funded study shows our thoughts can manipulate computer images

Remember “The Matrix” movies? Characters in them are connected to a cyber world through a rod jammed into the backs of their heads. The cyber world can be influenced by thoughts and beliefs. The lead character, Neo, has to believe he’s “The One” so he can have the super powers needed to free humanity from the machines. Such science fiction technologies once seemed impossible, but not so much any more.

In an NIH-funded study External Web Site Policy at UCLA Medical Center, Itzhak Fried and his colleagues showed that humans can regulate their neurons to alter a cyber reality, while being subjected to competitive stimuli. They worked with patients being treated for intractable epilepsy who’d had wires implanted into their brains. After connecting the wires to a computer, subjects were shown two merged images on a computer screen. With focused attention, they were able to force the computer to display one image and discard the other.

The brain-computer interface helps scientists understand how the brain processes information and how thoughts and decisions affect cell activity. The potential applications of the research are wide-ranging and could help paralyzed individuals communicate or control prosthetic limbs.

The results leave me wondering what’s next for our high-tech civilization.
By: Cindy, Gloria | March 1 2010 | Category: Research & Technology, Science News

Yifan Li - 2010 Intel Talent Search FinalistFor the Intel Science Talent Search (STS) competitionExternal Web Site Policy this year, 300 semifinalists were chosen from among 1,736 entrants from high schools in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Each semifinalist received a $1,000 award for their research, and $1,000 was given to their school to further excellence in science, math, and engineering education.

The 40 finalistsExternal Web Site Policy were named January 27, and the final judging processExternal Web Site Policy will be completed March 11 through 16 at the Science Talent Institute in Washington, D.C. The winner receives a scholarship award of $100,000.

Alumni of the Intel STS have made extraordinary contributions to science and hold more then 100 of the world’s most coveted science and math honors, including seven Nobel Prizes and three National Medals of Science.

This year, researchers in National Institutes of Health (NIH) laboratories mentored several of the semifinalists and one finalist:

NIH researchers and their mentees are enthusiastic about each other and their experiences together. Dr. Horvath says that Kristen is a brilliant student with impressive experience and knowledge in molecular biology and she was “perfectly matched with our lab.”

Dr. Venditti says that Conway contacted him after reading some of his lab’s papers on the NHGRI Web site. Conway’s experience opened his eyes to the world of medical research and how it is closely tied to the clinical aspects of medicine.

Lijin Dong said that Yifan came to the lab just like most high school students who have not been exposed much to the lab environment. “I worked with him on a daily basis by assigning readings, having discussions on the papers, and working through the logic of the project and lab skills,” he says.

I asked Yifan to explain his project so that other students would understand his work. He said, “Our project’s aim is to contribute to helping people who suffer from blindness -- in particular, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a common retinal disease,- that leads to visual impairment. “

Yifan stimulated embryonic stem cell s to grow into a type of eye cell whose deterioration is heavily associated with AMD. With the continued succes s of stem cell research, he believes that “we may see a burst of transplantation studies in the future that could lead to medical advances in curing retinal disease. “

When I asked how he’s preparing for the final competition, Yifan said that he’s getting a poster ready for his presentation during the conference and learning as much as possible about retinal development, retinal disease, and the progression of stem cell research. “I want to be able to field any question from any judge competently and confidently, so that’s going to take a lot of preparation,“ he said.

Have you mentored a student who has won a prestigious scientific award? Please let us know!

Helpful Link

NIH Student Interships and Opportunitites
By: Gina | September 4 2009 | Category: Research & Technology

NASA Hyperbaric ChamberWhen we’re healthy, there’s plenty of oxygen in the air to keep us happy and active (unless, of course, we’re at the top of Mount Everest). But after some injuries, a boost of oxygen in our tissues can be very helpful. That’s where HBOT comes in.

HBOT, or hyperbaric oxygen therapy, is the delivery of oxygen under high pressure. In HBOT, patients are placed in a chamber where the pressure is a few times that found at sea level. They then breathe oxygen-enriched air that’s either in the chamber or supplied through a mask. HBOT therapy is coming back into vogue in large part because we have the technology to build better and much safer chambers.  (They used to have a tendency to explode.)  HBOT chambers are being used in clinics all over the country.

The first use of HBOT was to treat scuba divers with “the bends.” The bends happens when divers surface too quickly. The high pressure underwater allows more gas to dissolve in the blood and tissues than can on land.  As divers return to the surface from below, the gas comes out of solution. When divers surface slowly, the gas is released gradually, but if they come up too quickly, it’s released suddenly, sort of like what happens when we open a can of soda pop. Air bubbles form in tissues, which is painful and sometimes even deadly. So, divers with the bends are usually rushed to hyperbaric chambers, where their blood and tissues can reabsorb the gas temporarily. The pressure in the chamber is then decreased gradually, just like it is when divers surface slowly.

OK, but what does this have to do with healing? Well, many wounds — especially in people with diabetes and skin grafts — don’t have a good blood supply. That means the tissue lacks oxygen, and oxygen is needed for good healing. One way to increase tissue oxygen is to send patients scuba diving, but I’m not sure my grandmother with diabetes would be keen on that. Instead, doctors use HBOT. Patients hang out in an HBOT chamber for a few hours at a time to get extra oxygen into their tissues to help their wounds heal. 

There are numerous other clinical indications for HBOT therapy External Web Site Policy that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. A number of clinical trials looking at HBOT use for traumatic brain injury, diabetic ulcers, and burns are now underway.
By: Gina | July 31 2009 | Category: Research & Technology, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

Physician vaccinating a patientProbably everyone reading this has had the flu at least once in their lifetime.  The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect 5-20% (that is as many as 1 out of 5 people) of people in the U.S. each year.  Is it serious?  More than 200,000 people are hospitalized and about 36,000 people die yearly from the flu. 

The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year.  Unfortunately, many of us don't know where to get vaccinated, forget about it, or are simply more afraid of shots than the flu. (A big mistake!) Undoubtedly, a lot more people would be vaccinated if, like tetanus vaccinations, we only had to get a shot every ten years or so.  So why can't we? 

Normally when we are vaccinated, we are injected with small parts of molecules called 'epitopes'.  Our immune system responds by making 'memory cells' that specifically recognize those epitopes.  At a second encounter with that epitope, these memory cells help the body mount a much stronger and quicker immune response than the first time.  Thus, after a flu vaccination, when the real flu virus tries to attack, our memory cells go to work and usually stop it before we feel sick.  

Unfortunately, unlike tetanus which is caused by a single bacterium, flu can be caused by two different families of viruses (called group 1 and group 2).  Worse, within these families are many different subtypes each of which has different epitopes.  Because of this, every year, scientists have to make some informed guesses as to which type of flu will be common next year and then make the appropriate vaccine.

A discovery by a group of scientists in the United States and another group from Europe and Hong Kong may make the '10 year flu vaccine' a reality.  These scientists identified an epitope that appears to be common to the members of the group 1 influenza virus family.  Using this epitope, a vaccine was made that was able to prevent death in mice that were challenged with lethal doses of flu viruses.  It even protected them against the H5N1 'bird flu' virus

Hopefully vaccines generated by this epitope will be potent enough, that a single vaccination given every few years will be enough to protect us against all group 1 influenza viruses.  Now if scientists can just find a common epitope for group 2!

Jianhua Sui, William C Hwang, et al.  Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 16, 265 - 273 (2009) Structural and functional bases for broad-spectrum neutralization of avian and human influenza A viruses

Mark Throsby, Edward van den Brink, et al.  PLoS ONE 3(12): e3942. (2008). Heterosubtypic Neutralizing Monoclonal Antibodies Cross-Protective against H5N1 and H1N1 Recovered from Human IgM+ Memory B Cells
By: Dave | June 10 2009 | Category: NIH Resources, Research & Technology, Tidbits for Teachers

Screen shot of interactive health tutorial on asthma at MedlinePlus.govWe often get requests from educators for videos and multimedia on specific health topics. Our buddies at the NIH National Library of Medicine have assembled a whole ton of online, interactive health tutorials on their MedlinePlus Website.

Topics range from acne, anthrax, and asthma to tuberculosis, varicose veins, and warts. They're organized as Diseases and Conditions, Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, Surgery and Treatment Procedures, and Prevention and Wellness.

There are over 100 tutorials posted!
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