On March 16, 2018, Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.), author of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), passed away at the age of 88. Rep. Slaughter was a strong advocate for genomics research, and her work on GINA helped create protections against genetic discrimination in employment and health insurance.
NHGRI's Division of Intramural Research presented the 14th Jeffrey M. Trent Lecture in Cancer Research on March 15, 2018, at the Lipsett Amphitheater, Building 10 (Clinical Center), on the National Institutes of Health Bethesda campus. Joan Brugge, Ph.D., co-director, Ludwig Center at Harvard Medical School, delivered the lecture Role of the TRPA1 Ca2+-permeable Channel in Oxidative Stress Defenses in Cancer. Video is now available.
This month's The Genomics Landscape features stories about NHGRI's new round of strategic planning to establish a 2020 vision for genomics; NHGRI's participation in the Americal Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting Family Science Days; a new genomics resource for American Indian and Alaska Native Communities and new NIH Common Fund Programs such as the Human BioMolecular Atlas Program (HuBMAP) and the Somatic Cell Genome Editing program.
NHGRI researchers used whole genome sequence data to pinpoint the single origin of the sickle cell mutation to the "wet" period of the Sahara 7,300 years ago. The mutation causes blood hemoglobin to be crescent shaped, reducing its ability to carry oxygen. Charles N. Rotimi, Ph.D., study co-author and NHGRI senior investigator, said the finding overturns previous theories that the mutation arose in multiple locations. This will help clinicians redefine sickle cell subgroups and treat patients more effectively, said lead author Daniel Shriner, Ph.D. Read more in the March 8 American Journal of Human Genetics.
Virtual Reality (VR) is a rapidly expanding area in tech and gaming. Now it's also playing an important role in medicine and health, expanding opportunities for researchers, clinicians and patients. Simulated experience can reduce stress, help doctors practice surgical techniques or allow medical students a way to practice their bedside manner in virtual scenarios. On February 23, NHGRI hosted a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) with NIH researchers who use VR to study a host of research questions. Read our recap here.