Please join us in welcoming the internationally renowned genomic scientist László Nagy, M.D., Ph.D., to Sanford-Burnham’s Lake Nona campus. Nagy will serve as professor and program director in our Diabetes and Obesity Research Center. He will join us in October to lead a new cross-platform research program that will help accelerate discoveries at our Orlando campus. Nagy is currently professor and head of the Center for Clinical Genomics and Personalized Medicine at the University of Debrecen Medical and Health Science Center in Hungary.
Sanford-Burnham researchers identify microRNAs as the missing link between the two defining features of muscle fitness—fuel-burning and fiber-type switching—providing a potential new target for interventions that boost fitness in people with chronic illness or injury.
Researchers discovered that small pieces of genetic material called microRNAs link the two defining characteristics of fit muscles: the ability to burn sugar and fat and the ability to switch between slow- and fast-twitch muscle fibers. The team used two complementary mouse models—the “marathon mouse” and the “couch potato mouse”—to make this discovery. But what’s more, they also found that active people have higher levels of one of these microRNAs than sedentary people. These findings, published May 8 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggest microRNAs could be targeted for the development of new medical interventions aimed at improving muscle fitness in people with chronic illness or injury.
We announced today the selection of the first five research organizations that will participate in the Florida Translational Research Program (FTRP) to advance drug discovery in the state. The projects focus on cancer, diabetes, and obesity, and are led by scientists from the University of Central Florida, the University of Florida, the University of Miami, Scripps Florida, and a team of our own Lake Nona scientists. The Florida Department of Health and Sanford-Burnham established the FTRP as a competitive grant program that provides funding for collaborative drug discovery projects. The overall goal of the program is to translate research discoveries made in Florida laboratories into the medicines of tomorrow.
First fruit fly model of diet-induced type 2 diabetes shows how high-sugar diet affects the heart and reveals new therapeutic opportunities
Regularly consuming sucrose—the type of sugar found in many sweetened beverages—increases a person’s risk of heart disease. In a study published January 10 in the journal PLOS Genetics, researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and Mount Sinai School of Medicine used fruit flies, a well-established model for human health and disease, to determine exactly how sucrose affects heart function. In addition, the researchers discovered that blocking this cellular mechanism prevents sucrose-related heart problems.
“Our study reveals a number of specific sugar-processing enzymes that could be targeted with therapies aimed at reducing sucrose’s unhealthy effects on the heart,” said Karen Ocorr, Ph.D., research assistant professor at Sanford-Burnham and the study’s corresponding author.
Science and art have a lot in common. That was the clear conclusion drawn by a panel of experts at the world-renowned La Jolla Playhouse on November 11, at an event titled The Art in Science/The Science in Art. Collaboration, the willingness to take risks, and the making of what one panelist called “intuitive leaps” all rose to the fore as shared traits. Although perhaps the most significant thing the two disciplines have in common, they realized, is the ongoing need for funding.
“You hear a lot about patrons of the arts,” remarked Sanford-Burnham adjunct faculty member Dr. Pamela Itkin-Ansari. “I think we also need more patrons of science.” Based on their enthusiastic applause, the audience agreed.
Each year, the Sanford-Burnham Science Network, our organization of postdoctoral researchers and graduate students, holds a symposium for young scientists to practice presenting their work and gain valuable feedback from their peers and our faculty members. This year, the La Jolla group’s event was held at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine.
Here are five random things we learned last week at the 11th annual symposium:
Congratulations to John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka on winning the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine! They received the award today for their “discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.” In other words, these scientists figured out how to turn a normal adult cell, such as a skin cell, into a stem cell that has the potential to become any other type of cell in the body. Read below to learn more about stem cells and how they are revolutionizing medical research.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are special because each is like a blank slate. Once it’s given the proper instruction, a stem cell can specialize and become any type of cell in the body—brain, heart, muscle, and more. Stem cells also have the ability to reproduce themselves indefinitely, renewing the supply.
Are there different types of stem cells?
Embryonic stem cells only exist during an organism’s development, when it is an embryo. These cells are pluripotent, meaning they have the capacity to become any cell type in the body.
Adult stem cells exist in fully developed organisms. They are more limited than embryonic stem cells—they are multipotent rather than pluripotent. These stem cells usually can only become a few types of specialized cells, based on the tissue from which they originate.
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are pluripotent, much like embryonic stem cells. iPSCs are produced in the laboratory by genetically reprogramming any adult cell, such as a skin cell.