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 investigators in the Cell Biology and Physiology Center are dedicated to understanding the internal workings of cells and how cells interact with their external environment. Research themes in this Center focus on studies on the molecular machines provide cell structure and oversee cell movement, division, and cargo trafficking, particularly the mechanisms that regulate cell morphology and trafficking of proteins. The goals of these investigations are to identify how these machines and processes shape human health and disease, as abnormal changes in just a single cell can eventually affect the entire body.
- Clare M. Waterman
- Center Director
The Genetics and Developmental Biology Center (GDBC) is dedicated to investigating the roles of genes and gene networks in a variety of biological processes related to organismal development and the maintenance of homeostasis. In addition, is the Center places a significant emphasis on understanding the molecular mechanisms by which these cellular regulatory components are disrupted to cause disease, and how they can be manipulated to develop new gene-based and other therapies. GDBC investigators make use of a variety of approaches to answer these questions, including mouse models, fluorescent imaging, and genomic technologies.
- Robert S. Adelstein
- Senior Investigator
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