Research Highlights from the Division of Intramural Research: August 2023 Showcase: Text Alternative

Elucidating Factors that Influence Weight and Fat Mass Gain

A diverse group of male and female teenagers eating lunch in a school cafeteria. Plates full of vegetables and fruit are on the tables in front of them.

Studies have separately linked a high willingness to work for an energy-dense food reward and a low ability to withhold a response to food-related stimuli to excess weight and fat mass gain.

Read about work from the Yanovski Lab to determine whether the interaction of these factors exacerbates weight gain and increases fat mass.

Delving into Early-Life Influences on Child Eating Behaviors

A young Asian mother in a striped shirt at a counter with her baby. The baby is reaching for a piece of fruit in a bowl on the countertop.

Relatively little is known about early-life influences on children’s appetitive traits—eating styles that reflect their responses to external influences and internal hunger and satiety signals.

Read about work from the Social and Behavioral Sciences Branch that explains how parent feeding behaviors and early-life food exposures affect appetitive traits.

Identifying Genetic Causes of Growth Disorders

X-rays of hand and wrist bones are held against a light box.

Genetic abnormalities can impair childhood growth or, less commonly, can cause overgrowth, a condition in which the child is extremely tall and often has other medical problems.

Read about work from the Baron Lab on the role of the gene SPIN4 in a rare overgrowth disorder

Proposing Models for Neural Synchronization

The astrocytes have multiple extensions that add layers around axons, which are shown as long tubular structures.

The brain must synchronize signals that can come from multiple areas in order to function properly, similar to how stoplights coordinate traffic flow on congested city streets. Scientists have proposed various models for how this is achieved.

Read about work from the Fields Lab on an oligodendrocyte-mediated model

Noninvasively Measuring Brain Metabolic Activity

Illustration of brain cells in blue and pink against a black background.

Water molecules are incessantly exchanging between the inside and outside of cells, both actively and passively. This water exchange can indicate cell activity, but it occurs too rapidly to be observed by current techniques.

Read about work from the Basser Lab to develop a noninvasive technique to measure metabolic activity in the brain.

Understanding the Role of Thyroid Hormone During Development

Three dimensional graphic of the thyroid gland, which is visible in the throat area.

Thyroid hormone, which is important for healthy organ function, also is required during embryonic development.

Read about work from the Shi Lab on identifying the importance of thyroid hormone for liver development

Understanding Lung Disease in People with Osteogenesis Imperfecta

Black-and-white photo of a chest computed tomography scan. Two black circles and a black arrow indicate atypical features.

Lung disease is the leading cause of illness and death for people with osteogenesis imperfecta, a group of rare genetic bone fragility disorders that affect the protein collagen.

Read about work from a clinical team led by Dr. Joan Marini that expands understanding of lung disease in children and young adults with osteogenesis imperfecta.

Using Epigenetic Clocks to Measure Risk for Developmental Delays

A black and white ultrasound of a fetus in profile.

Children who are born preterm, before 37 weeks of pregnancy, have a higher risk for developmental delays.

Read about work from the Epidemiology Branch on more accurate ways to identify this subset of infants

Unraveling a Cellular Stress Response

Illustration showing two collided ribosomes (labeled “colliding ribosome” and “leading ribosome”) pictured as yellow blobs with various accessory components. Peptidyl-tRNA, aminoacyl-tRNA, and mRNA are labeled. Locations of the P-stalk and Gcn2 are indicated on the leading ribosome in blue and red, respectively.

Cells respond to stressors in various ways. A stress response involving the enzyme Gcn2 reduces overall protein synthesis in the cell but stimulates production of an activator that reprograms gene expression—the degree to which certain genes are turned on or off.

Read about work from the Hinnebusch Lab that sheds light on how Gcn2 is activated under different circumstances.

Improving Clinical Studies on Rare Pediatric Diseases

An MRI technician looks over a young girl who is laying down on an MRI scanner.

CLN3 is a rare disease that usually begins with vision loss around four to six years of age, followed by developmental regression and seizures.

Read about work from the Dang Do Lab on new ways to measure CLN3 progression


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