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NIAID

Joining Forces Against Sickle Cell Disease and HIV Infection

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Gates Collaboration Telebriefing
The NIH and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, will invest at least $200 million over the next four years to develop affordable gene-based cures globally for sickle cell disease and HIV infection. The announcement of this timely collaboration was made during a late-morning telebriefing at NIH on October 23, 2019. Here, I met with two of my fellow participants on the call: Gary Gibbons (left), director of NIH’s Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and Trevor Mundel, (middle), president of the Gates Foundation’s global health efforts. Also joining the telebriefing remotely by phone were Tony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and Matishidiso Moeti, director of the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Africa. Credit: NIH

Presenting a Government Hall of Famer

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Fauci in Goverment Hall of Fame
What an honor it was to present my colleague Tony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), for induction into the inaugural 20-member class of the Government Hall of Fame. Tony was chosen for his pioneering efforts with HIV/AIDS and for his incredibly distinguished career as a public servant. Tony (right) addressed ceremony attendees about the privilege of serving as NIAID director and his unique opportunity to advise five presidents on global HIV/AIDS and other emerging public health threats. The Government Hall of Fame, launched by Government Executive Media Group, celebrates the best of the best in American government. The Hall of Fame gala was held on September 19 at the Washington National Cathedral. Credit: Kristoffer Tripplaar

Using Genomics to Follow the Path of Ebola

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Ebola virus

Caption: Colorized scanning electron micrograph of filamentous Ebola virus particles (blue) budding from a chronically infected VERO E6 cell (yellow-green).
Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH

Long before the current outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) began in West Africa, NIH-funded scientists had begun collaborating with labs in Sierra Leone and Nigeria to analyze the genomes and develop diagnostic tests for the virus that caused Lassa fever, a deadly hemorrhagic disease related to EVD. But when the outbreak struck in February 2014, an international team led by NIH Director’s New Innovator Awardee Pardis Sabeti quickly switched gears to focus on Ebola.

In a study just out in the journal Science [1], this fast-acting team reported that it has sequenced the complete genetic blueprints, or genomes, of 99 Ebola virus samples obtained from 78 patients in Sierra Leone. This new genomic data has revealed clues about the origin and evolution of the Ebola virus, as well as provided insights that may aid in the development of better diagnostics and inform efforts to devise effective therapies and vaccines.


New Weapon Targets Ancient Foe

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Microscopic image of a long, thin, rod-like bacteria

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Source: Clifton E. Barry III, Ph.D., NIAID, NIH.

Tuberculosis is an ancient scourge that has evolved in lockstep with humans for more than ten millennia. It infected residents of ancient Egypt; remnants of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the deadly bacterium that ravages the lungs and other organs of its victims, have been found in Egyptian mummies dating back 3,000 years. It is considered one of the world’s deadliest diseases.

I’ve had my own experience with TB. As a medical resident in the intensive care unit in North Carolina in 1977, I was exposed to the bacterium during emergency care of a young migrant worker who arrived at our hospital in extremis from internal bleeding. Only after the hemorrhaging was stopped did we discover his advanced tuberculosis. But I’m happy to say we treated him successfully with a battery of drugs, and he walked out of the hospital. My own TB skin test tested positive a few months later, and so I had to take a year’s worth of therapy with isoniazid to wipe out those little microbial invaders. That was all it took.

For the most part, TB cases have been reduced to a trickle in the Western world—thanks to antibiotics—and relegated to the history books with descriptions of ‘consumption’ in nineteen-century England and tales of jail-like sanatoria where those consumptives were quarantined and often died.


How Influenza Pandemics Occur

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Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH

Flu season is upon us! Check out this NIH video to see how these pandemics emerge and spread new flu viruses around the globe.


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