Research Highlights from the Division of Intramural Research (DIR): Text Alternative

Attempting to Predict Shoulder Dystocia

A pregnant woman in labor breathes heavily, while her husband holds her hand and a masked health care worker looks on.

Shoulder dystocia is a medical emergency that occurs when one or both of a baby’s shoulders get stuck during vaginal delivery. There is no clinically reliable method to predict the condition, which occurs in 0.2% to 3% of deliveries.

Read about work from the Epidemiology Branch to assess relationships between fetal and maternal characteristics and the occurrence of shoulder dystocia.

Understanding How School Food Availability Affects Students’ Eating Behaviors

Two smiling teenage boys, one holding a banana and one holding an apple, sit at a table filled with plates of vegetables.

Both the foods available at school and those available at food outlets in the surrounding neighborhood may impact an adolescent’s diet.

Read about work from the Social and Behavioral Sciences Branch suggesting that the neighborhood food environment may influence relationships between the in-school food environment and students’ eating behaviors.

Identifying Placental-Related Genes that Regulate Birthweight

The fetus is nestled upside down and colored orange, in a pregnant person’s body, which is colored blue. The placenta is shaded a darker orange at the top of the uterus.

A fetus develops and grows in the womb for nearly 10 months, but the environment in which this occurs can set the stage for a person’s future health.

Read about work from the Epidemiology Branch on candidate genes that regulate birthweight.

Characterizing Dual-Function Small RNAs

Fluorescent green, rod-shaped bacteria. An inset in the upper right corner shows a close-up.

Small RNAs (sRNAs) help regulate gene expression—the degree to which genes are turned “on” or “off”—by interacting with messenger RNA. Some sRNAs encode a small protein in addition to this regulatory role.

Read about work from the Storz Lab to identify and characterize dual-function sRNAs in the bacterium Escherichia coli.

Characterizing Immune Responses in Pregnancy

The cell is colored orange against a black background. The center is a bumpy sphere with flat projections surrounding the edges.

Infections during pregnancy can lead to poor health outcomes for the fetus and the pregnant person. The bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a common cause of severe, life-threatening infections during pregnancy.

Read about work from the Perinatology Research Branch on how immune responses to E. coli differ between pregnant and non-pregnant individuals.

Identifying New Targets of Protein Synthesis Regulation

Illustration showing a transfer RNA (tRNA) molecule bearing an amino acid. The tRNA recognizes the “AUG” start codon on a strand of mRNA.

Translation—the reading of messenger RNA (mRNA) to make proteins—begins at an mRNA sequence called the start codon. Appropriate selection of the start codon by the cell’s translation machinery is crucial for proper protein synthesis.

Read about work from the Dever Lab that illustrates how alterations in the stringency of start codon selection affect translation.

Developing Novel Methods to Study Social Neuroscience

Bird’s-eye view of the top of a person’s head. The cap, which covers the entire head, has nodes that are colored white, red, or blue.

Researchers studying brain activity have a variety of tools to characterize neural activity, but there are limitations to each approach. Multimodal neuroimaging combines data collected from more than one technique, where one technique’s strength can help compensate for another’s weakness.

Read about work from the Gandjbakhche Lab on developing a multimodal approach to study the action observation network (AON)—a network of brain regions important in social neuroscience.

Delving into Risk Factors for Childhood Asthma and Allergy

A young boy holds an asthma inhaler in his hand.

The causes of childhood asthma and other allergic diseases are complex and not fully understood. Development of these conditions may be linked to early exposures, including the use of infertility treatments by the child’s parents.

Read about work from the Epidemiology Branch suggesting that children conceived with infertility treatments have a higher risk for childhood asthma and allergies.

Mapping the Role of RHOA in Vascular Development

The microscopy image shows fluorescent colors against a black background. The mutant embryo’s head has a large cluster of orange blood cells.

The protein RHOA is a master regulator of processes essential for development. However, its specific roles in vascular development—the formation of blood vessels—and the function of endothelial cells, which line blood vessels, are not clear. 

Read about work from the Weinstein Lab that maps the role of RHOA in vascular development and function in zebrafish.

 

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