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The Edge from U2 and Francis Collins

David Howell Evans (left), better known as the Edge and lead guitar player in the rock band U2, is a strong supporter of cancer research. The band was in town on June 18, 2018 for a concert in Washington’s Capital One Arena, and the Edge once again invited some courageous young cancer patients receiving treatment at NIH and their parents to come out and enjoy the show. Here, I get to thank the Edge for his generosity and for giving these kids such a special thrill.
Credit: Diane Baker

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Stressed by schoolwork

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Just ask any parent or teacher, most of today’s teens and pre-teens don’t seem to get enough sleep. And what sleep they do get is often poor quality—no great surprise, given that smartphones and other electronic devices are usually never far from their reach. Now, an NIH-funded team has uncovered the strongest evidence yet that this lack of quality sleep may be setting our kids up for some serious health issues later in life.

The team’s study of more than 800 adolescents, ages 11 through 13, confirmed that many are getting an insufficient amount of undisturbed, restful sleep each night. While earlier studies had found a link between sleep duration and obesity [1], the new work shows that a wide range of other cardiovascular risk factors are affected by both too little sleep and poor sleep quality [2]. When compared to well-rested kids, sleep-deprived youth were found to have higher blood pressure, bigger waistlines, and lower levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Francis Collins meeting with Jonathan LaPook

Enjoyed my one-on-one exchange with Dr. Jonathan LaPook, CBS Evening News medical correspondent. We talked during the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) Advocacy Forum on June 18, 2018 in Washington, D.C. The event was sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association. Credit: Alzheimer’s Association

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Anne Andrews

Anne Andrews
Credit: From the American Chemical Society’s “Personal Stories of Discovery”

Serotonin is one of the chemical messengers that nerve cells in the brain use to communicate. Modifying serotonin levels is one way that antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications are thought to work and help people feel better. But the precise nature of serotonin’s role in the brain is largely unknown.

That’s why Anne Andrews set out in the mid-1990s as a fellow at NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health to explore changes in serotonin levels in the brains of anxious mice. But she quickly realized it wasn’t possible. The tools available for measuring serotonin—and most other neurochemicals in the brain—couldn’t offer the needed precision to conduct her studies.

Instead of giving up, Andrews did something about it. In the late 1990s, she began formulating an idea for a neural probe to make direct and precise measurements of brain chemistry. Her progress was initially slow, partly because the probe she envisioned was technologically ahead of its time. Now at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) more than 15 years later, she’s nearly there. Buoyed by recent scientific breakthroughs, the right team to get the job done, and the support of a 2017 NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award, Andrews expects to have the first fully functional devices ready within the next two years.

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Dr. Collins and other NIH leaders meets with CDC director

Dr. Robert Redfield (second left), director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, visited NIH on June 12, 2018. Joining me in welcoming him are James Gilman, first chief executive officer for the NIH Clinical Center (left) and Anthony Fauci (right), director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Credit: NIH

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