In this episode we welcome Nobel Prize winning scientist, Dr. Harold Varmus. We talk with Dr. Varmus about a range of topics in the realm of biomedical research as a career and the state of NIH funding.

Resources and Links

Motor Skill Learning Requires Active Central Myelination – The production of new myelin in the brain, which is a function of non-neuronal glial cells, may be necessary for motor learning.

A Global Inventory of Lakes Based on High-resolution Satellite Imagery – Researchers were able to accurately count the lakes on earth with high resolution data from satellites.

UCL Research Helps Paralyzed Man to Recover Function – Researchers announced that two years after the cell transplant, a man paralyzed from chest down was able to walk again.

Soda and Cell Aging: Associations between Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption and Leukocyte Telomere Length in Healthy Adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys – Research found found that telomeres – protective DNA caps on the end of chromosomes – were shorter in people who reported habitually drinking more fizzy drinks.

Promising Early Success and Safety Results from International Gene Therapy Trial for ‘Bubble Boy’ Disease Reported in New England Journal of Medicine – This article describes a new form of gene therapy for boys with X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome (SCID-X1), a life-threatening condition also known as “bubble boy” disease.

Manipulating a “Cocaine Engram” in Mice – Researchers examine the precise neural circuits that support the memory of a cocaine-cue association or “cocaine engram” in mice.

Left–Right Dissociation of Hippocampal Memory Processes in Mice – This article shows that hippocampal long-term memory processing is lateralized in mice after investigating the implications of left-right difference in hippocampal function.

Histone H2A.Z Subunit Exchange Controls Consolidation of Recent and Remote Memory – According to this article, histone variant exchange can be a novel mechanism contributing to the molecular basis of cognitive function and implicate H2A.Z as a potential therapeutic target for memory disorders.

Rise of the Rest: The Growing Impact of Non-Elite Journals – This article shows that the fraction of highly-cited articles published in non-elite journals has increased steadily from 1995-2013 and researchers are increasingly building on and citing work published everywhere.

Reports of Pathological Gambling, Hypersexuality, Compulsive Shopping Associated with Dopamine Agonist Drugs – This article examines the effect of dopamine receptor agonist drugs which are used to treat Parkinson’s disease, restless leg syndrome and hyperprolactinemia, on patients with impulse control disorders.

Human Genetic Research Uncovers How Omega-6 Fatty Acids Lower Bad Cholesterol – Researchers uncovered a gene that affects blood cholesterol levels through the generation of a compound from omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, called lipoxins.

Are Male Brains Wired to Ignore Food for Sex? – This article describes how male C. elegans, a microscopic roundworm that is widely used in studying fundamental mechanisms in biology, suppresses their ability to locate food in order to instead focus on finding a mate.

Ultra-fast Charging Batteries that Can Be 70% Recharged in Just Two Minutes – Scientists from Nanyang Technological University have developed a new battery that can be recharged up to 70% in only two minutes and also have a longer lifespan of over 20 years.

Stem-Cell Fraud Makes for Box Office Success – The movie, Whistleblower, which was based on the Woo Suk Hwang cloning scandal, has been a box office hit in South Korea.

Stem Cells for Diabetes: The Danger of the Word ‘Cure’ – This article discusses the danger in loosely using the word ‘cure’ as it falsely raises hopes and expectations of patients and other people.

Paralyzed Man Walks Again after Nose Cells Repair His Spinal Cord – A man paralyzed from the chest down in a knife attack is walking again after undergoing surgery using cells responsible for the sense of smell, marking an advance in the search for treatments for spinal injuries.

Stem Cells Seem Safe in Treating Eye Disease – This article discusses a study conducted by scientists on a treatment based on embryonic stem cells that seem safe and might help restore vision for people with macular degeneration and macular dystrophy.

Promise Put to the Test – UC San Diego Health announced that human testing of injected neural stem cell therapies are underway at its Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center.

Young, Brilliant and Underfunded – This article emphasizes the need for National Institutes of Health to fund young, good researchers who are doing valuable work in the prime of their careers.

Updated: Fountain of Youth: A Congressman’s Plan to Make NIH Grantees Younger – This article is about the a member of Congress who plans to order National Institutes of Health (NIH) to bring down the average age at which new investigators receive their first grant by four years within a decade.

An In Vivo Model of Human Small Intestine Using Pluripotent Stem Cells – Researchers have successfully transplanted functioning human intestinal tissue grown from stem cells into mice and could potentially revolutionize the production of spare organs for people, using cells from their own bodies.

MSC-Regulated MicroRNAs Converge on the Transcription Factor FOXP2 and Promote Breast Cancer Metastasis – Investigators explain how mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) cause aberrant expression of microRNAs led by microRNA-199a provide breast cancer cells with enhanced cancer stem cell properties.

Generation of the Epicardial Lineage from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells – This article identifies BMP and WNT as key regulators of the epicardial lineage in vitro and provides a model for investigating epicardial function in human development and disease.

Differentiation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells to Cells Similar to Cord-Blood Endothelial Colony–Forming Cells – This article tries to differentiate human pluripotent stem cells into endothelial cells with properties of cord-blood endothelial colony-forming cells that may enable the derivation of clinically relevant numbers of highly proliferative blood vessel–forming cells to restore endothelial function in patients with vascular disease.

Photo Reference: Courtesy of Harold Varmus