On Thursday, January 25, NIDCR will convene a scientific symposium, “Autotherapies: Enhancing Our Innate Healing Capacity,” in the Lipsett Amphitheater of the NIH Clinical Center (Building 10) from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Autotherapies are treatments based on the body’s natural ability to heal and protect itself. The event will feature presentations from experts in stem cell biology, craniofacial anomalies and regeneration, regenerative bioengineering, and cancer immunotherapy. The symposium is free and open to the public; no registration is required. The talks will be videocast live and archived.
NIDCR is Launching a Redesigned Website
NIDCR’s revamped website will be launching in the coming weeks. It features a new graphic design and easy-to-navigate structure that helps visitors quickly find the information they seek. The redesign is based on extensive research that examined the needs and preferences of NIDCR’s diverse audiences and the usability of the site. The new site is also responsive. It adapts to the viewer’s screen size—whether a desktop monitor, tablet, or smartphone—an important feature since more than half of NIDCR’s web visitors access the site via mobile devices.
NIDCR has a new opening for Scientific Director in the Division of Intramural Research. The Scientific Director will be responsible for creating and maintaining a robust research environment that facilitates and encourages creativity; collaboration among scientists from different disciplines; effective training of students, dentist- and physician-scientists, and post-baccalaureate, predoctoral, and postdoctoral fellows; and efficient utilization of resources. Learn about current NIDCR job opportunities by looking at the Job Openings section of NIDCR’s website and by following us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
As requested by President Donald Trump, Acting HHS Secretary Eric D. Hargan on October 26 declared a nationwide public health emergency regarding the opioid crisis. The same day, NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, issued a statement emphasizing NIH’s commitment to harness the full power of the biomedical research enterprise to address the crisis. On November 1, HHS outlined its strategy to transform the practice of pain management, a critical piece of the Department’s five-point Opioid Strategy unveiled in April 2017. On December 5, Dr. Collins, along with officials from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appeared before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies to describe their agencies’ efforts to address the crisis.
On November 16, the FDA announced a comprehensive policy framework for the development and oversight of regenerative medicine products, including novel cellular therapies. Delivering on provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act, a suite of four guidance documents builds upon the FDA’s existing risk-based approach to more clearly describe what products are regulated as drugs, devices, and/or biological products. The framework is designed to drive advances in regenerative medicine so innovators can bring new, effective therapies to patients as quickly and safely as possible.
NIH Director Testifies Before Congress on 21st Century Cures Act
Dr. Collins appeared before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on November 30, and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on December 7 to provide an update on NIH’s implementation of the 21st Cures Act, enacted in December 2016. He described progress around the complexities of sharing large data sets, enhancing inclusion in clinical trials, strengthening the biomedical workforce, reducing administrative burden, as well as initiatives including the BRAIN Initiative, Cancer Moonshot, Regenerative Medicine Innovation Project, and others.
In the November 2017 issue of The Lancet Oncology, NCI Deputy Director Douglas Lowy, MD, and NCI’s Director of the Division of Cancer Biology Dinah Singer, PhD, discussed the implementation of the Cancer Moonshot while stressing that progress toward understanding, preventing, screening for, and treating cancer will require efforts across the entire spectrum of cancer research.
NIH is launching a series of initiatives continuing through 2018 to enhance the accountability and transparency of clinical research. These initiatives target key points along the clinical trial lifecycle, from conception to results reporting. A new resources webpage from NIH’s Office of Extramural Research will help investigators understand recent changes to NIH human subject and clinical trial policies.
A Cell Systems paper, published online November 29 and authored by LINCS investigators and NIH staff, describes the Common Fund LINCS program, which aims to create a network-based understanding of human biology by cataloging changes in gene and protein expression, signaling processes, cell morphology, and epigenetic states, which occur when cells are exposed to a variety of perturbing agents. LINCS data are made openly available as a community resource to enable scientists to address a broad range of basic research questions to understand cell signaling and gene regulatory pathways involved in human disease.
Roderic Pettigrew, PhD, MD, departed his position as director of NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering in mid-November to assume two senior leadership positions at Texas A&M University. Dr. Pettigrew was the founding NIBIB director, serving in that position for 15 years. NIBIB Deputy Director Jill Heemskerk, PhD, was named acting director of the institute while NIH conducts a national search for a new NIBIB director.
An ongoing NIDCR clinical trial is exploring the potential of gene transfer to restore salivary function in cancer patients suffering from chronic dry mouth due to radiation therapy. Led by NIDCR intramural scientist John Chiorini, PhD, the trial builds on the work of NIDCR scientist emeritus Bruce Baum, DMD, PhD, who spearheaded work to develop the experimental treatment over 25 years ago. It’s the first salivary gland gene therapy tried in humans, and its initial clinical success surprised even the investigators, encouraging them to explore additional applications for its use.
As reported in the NIH Director’s Blog, NCI-funded scientists led by Dean Ho, PhD, at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry, showed the benefit of adding nanodiamonds to the standard filler used to seal off a tooth’s root during a root canal. As described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers treated 3 people with a nanodiamond-fortified filler, which proved to be more durable and resistant to buckling and breaking than standard filler. A larger clinical trial of 30 patients is now under way to further test safety and efficacy. The group is also exploring broader applications for nanodiamonds, including their use in treatments for cancer and cleft lip and/or palate.
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