Scientists Are Starting New Kinds Of Biomedical Research

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads worldwide, there are more calls than ever for cutting-edge research. Scientists, lawmakers, and the public all put the human condition at the top of their priorities. This has led to investments in vaccines and other new ways to solve the most difficult biomedical problems.

The Pew Charitable Trust has helped young biomedical scientists take risks for the past 35 years. This year, 37 researchers will receive multi-year fellowships for pursuing an interest in research in the United States and Latin America through the Pew Scholars Program in Biomedical Sciences, the Pew Latin American Fellow Program in Biomedical Sciences, and the Pew-Stewart Scholars Program for Cancer Research.

Finding ways to stay healthy and avoid disease

The disease is a serious threat to public health because it can be caused by viruses, bacteria, and things in the environment. The immune system is the body’s best defense against disease, and researchers in this year’s class will look into how the different parts of the immune system work together to keep disease away.

The flu, caused by the influenza virus, can lead to other health problems, such as bacterial pneumonia. To find out why this happens, one researcher will look at how the flu changes how immune and lung cells work to make people more likely to get pneumonia.

HIV can also hide inside people and infect their inflammatory responses, where it can stay dormant for long periods. But the virus is known to show up when a person’s immune system weakens. One researcher will look into how this happens, which could help find better ways to treat HIV and AIDS.

Researchers will also examine how environmental factors like diet, sleep, and stress affects an animal’s ability to deal with inflammatory chemicals during an infection. This will help them understand how diseases spread. Researchers hope to find new ways to treat diseases like cancer and diabetes by studying how inflammation can lead to new infections and make people more likely to get other diseases.

Unveiling life from birth to old age

Several researchers will look at how genes are turned on and off, how cells work, and how the immune system works to learn more about how people grow and age. Mammals are born with a supply of oocytes, or egg cells, that are protected from protein breakdown and metabolic problems until fertilized.

One researcher will look at this process and try to find ways to slow down or stop the ovulation clock from running out. Antibodies from a mother’s milk are important for a child’s early development because they help babies use nutrients and keep them from getting sick.

These antibodies also help good gut bacteria grow; one researcher will find microbial species in the gut that help control growth. This could help solve the problem of malnutrition in infants. Scientists have also noticed that women tend to live longer than men.

To figure out why one researcher will examine whether differences in immunity based on sex affect how we age. Researchers will also look at how cells get rid of harmful proteins, divide up nutrients, and keep the health of mitochondria as we age. This could help us find ways to live longer and better lives.

Attacking cancer

Cancer is a complicated disease that arrives in numerous forms. It is created by the abnormal increase of cells in the body. Several scientists will look into how to find better, stop, and fight this terrible disease.

One researcher will look at the unique sequences of cell-free DNA that tumors shed to find abnormal gene patterns linked to certain stages or types of cancer. This will help find better ways to find cancer. This work could help make a blood test for cancer that is cheaper and more sensitive.

Breast cancer impacts about 2.1 million women worldwide each year. By looking into how normal cellular processes go wrong, like when certain protein building blocks or RNA molecules are changed incorrectly, researchers hope to find new targets for small-molecule drugs that could stop cancer from growing and spreading.

Cancers have also come up with ways to stay alive and grow in the body. For example, leukemia stem cells hide from the immune system by covering themselves with proteins that make them hard to see. This year, people studying cancer will look into how cancer can resist treatment and return.

Learning how the brain and behavior work

More than 100 billion nerve cells make up the brain. These nerve cells control the body’s functions and determine what signals come from the outside world. This year’s class of researchers will look at its structure and try to figure out how it makes complex behaviors happen.

To figure out how different parts of the brain work together to make decisions, researchers will look at how animals filter data from their environment and determine the right way to act. For example, one researcher will examine how an infant’s brain knows when it is hungry and tells the child to cry for food.

Researchers will use single-cell technologies to make a family tree of the human cerebral cortex, the brain’s outer layer, to learn more about how the brain develops. They will then see if any branches of this cerebral family tree are missing or changed in people with autism or schizophrenia.

After finding the neural brain circuits that control sugar cravings, researchers will see if artificially turning on these sugar-sensing circuits can improve mood or if turning them off causes depression and anxiety. This could lead to new treatments for depression and anxiety.