Division of Intramural Research
The mission of the NHLBI Division of Intramural Research (DIR) is to perform robust scientific and clinical research that leads to a better understanding of biology and clinical pathology. To attain this goal, we have built a strong basic science foundation and coupled it closely with innovative technology development and outstanding clinical research, both at the NIH Clinical Center and in partnership with local hospitals. The purview of our research is broad, encompassing investigations into the basic principles of molecular, cellular, and organ-level biology and their relationship to disease.
Some current areas of fundamental interest include single molecule structure, protein assembly, molecular and cell biology, cell signaling and motility, membrane trafficking, physiology, systems biology, and engineering and technology development. Insights into disease mechanisms derived from basic studies form the basis for translational research into new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.
DIR investigators also conduct concept-based clinical studies in the areas of interventional and surgical cardiology, pulmonary medicine, sickle cell anemia, bone marrow transplant, and hematologic disorders. The Center for Population Studies, located in Framingham, Massachusetts, is associated with the Framingham Heart Study and focuses on the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease.
Providing state-of-the-art training in basic, translational, and clinical research for the next generation of scientific and clinical leaders is a high priority. The DIR provides opportunities for scientists and trainees to work together towards a better understanding of molecular machines, the cell, the body, and ultimately the treatment of human diseases.
Each year DIR presents the NHLBI DIR Orloff Science Awards, which recognize achievements in science or scientific groundwork that produced clear results during the previous calendar year. The Orloff winners are scientists, clinicians, and other individuals within the DIR who contributed substantively to work in their respective fields, helping to make advances toward healing various diseases.
What We Do
The Biochemistry and Biophysics Center carries out research that brings chemical and physical approaches to the study of biological problems. The principal investigators of the Center focus on topics that range from DNA transcription to cellular degeneration. To understand the mechanisms involved in these diverse processes, the investigators develop instruments and techniques to resolve, quantify, model, manipulate, and simulate biological mechanisms at molecular and cellular levels. The focus of Center research is to develop both experimental and theoretical models of biomolecular structure, and use these models to discover the link between the structure, function, and regulation of biologically active molecules and processes.
- Nico Tjandra
- Center Director
The Cardiovascular Branch conducts research on diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels. Specific projects aim to answer clinically relevant questions using methods ranging from molecular level studies to clinical projects in diagnostics, therapeutics, and interventions. The Branch places a strong emphasis on creating an environment where scientists and physician scientists can work together on disease-specific issues using the most appropriate approaches available in the spectrum between the bench and the bedside.
- Michael N. Sack
- M.D., Ph.D.
- Branch Chief
The Cell and Developmental Biology Center aims to understand the molecules and the molecular interactions inside cells that build the organelle systems that support basic and specialized functions to control cell fate and behavior. This Center studies how cell behavior guides normal development, including the creation and maintenance of tissues and organs. Researchers combine biochemical, molecular, cellular, genetic, and quantitative approaches to investigate fundamental biological processes across a range of organisms, including fish, flies, mammals, microbes, and viruses. This Center also seeks to apply its basic cell and developmental biological research to the understanding and treatment of human diseases.
- Clare M. Waterman
- Center Director
Investigators in the Hematology Branch (HB) study normal and abnormal hematopoiesis—the development and differentiation of stem cells into multiple types of blood cells—in the clinic and in the research laboratory. Patients who have a variety of bone marrow failure syndromes and acute and chronic leukemias attend the HB’s clinic and may be enrolled in clinical research protocols at the NIH Clinical Center. Interventions are intended to reverse marrow failure, cure or ameliorate leukemias by stem cell transplant, and control lymphoproliferative diseases like chronic lymphocytic leukemia by drug therapy. In the laboratory, basic cellular and molecular biology, immunologic, and genomic techniques and approaches are used to study patient samples, cells, cell lines, and in animal models. The Branch has been an international leader in developing understanding of the pathophysiology of hematologic diseases and improving their outcomes.
- Neal Young
- Branch Chief
The Immunology Center conducts research into the molecular basis of immune processes that are applicable to a broad range of diseases, including a number of inherited immunodeficiencies, cancers, autoimmune diseases, and allergic diseases. Center investigators explore research areas, including the normal function, signaling processes, gene regulation, and epigenetics related to the activation and function of immune cells. The goal of the Center is to understand fundamental mechanisms of biology and to promote the translation of these findings into the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches in humans.
- Warren J. Leonard
- Center Director
Researchers have found that treating psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory skin disease, with biologic drugs that target immune system activity can reduce the early plaque buildup that clogs arteries, restricts blood flow, and leads to heart attacks and stroke. The findings highlight how immunotherapies that treat inflammatory conditions might play a...
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