It turns out, they like us, or so they say. Biomedical researchers should take note that for the second year in a row, U.S. Senate appropriators have declared funding the National Institutes of Health a...


When presenting to the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus (CBRC), you want to best represent the work...

CBRC Briefings

Does Aging Bring Wisdom? - 9/16/09


Dr. Shelley Carson
Harvard University


In her briefing for the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus, Dr. Carson examines the deterioration of memory in older adults in a new light — not that of a mind being ravaged by dementia, but instead a mind widening its ability to process more details than that of a younger brain. For decades, cognitive research on the older brain has focused on the decline of thinking abilities. Newer research, however, suggests that much of this observed decline may actually result from lifestyle changes or illness rather than from inevitable brain atrophy.

Dr. Carson highlights how scientists are now beginning to focus on ways that cognition can actually improve with age. Research suggests that brainpower is not declining but that more information is being processed. Dr. Carson reviews the research on age-related brain changes and brain plasticity, and discusses how these changes affect wisdom and creativity. She also discusses initiatives to maintain and even improve cognition in later years.

Finding and Funding the Best Science: Peer Review at NIH - 7/22/09


Dr. Keith Yamamoto
University of California, San Francisco


Each year Congress appropriates billions of dollars to fund the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Did you ever consider how the money is distributed? With a budget of roughly $30 billion per year, the decisions that most strongly influence allocation of NIH funds are made by peer review by groups of professional scientists who typically are themselves funded by NIH. Is peer review really the best way to fund biomedical research? Are there intrinsic problems that compromise it? Could changes in peer review improve the quality of research?

These and other issues are discussed by Dr. Keith R. Yamamoto, an active scientist who has been involved in NIH peer review for almost 25 years, most recently leading an overall evaluation that produced key changes in the process.

Innovation Through Education - 7/15/09


Dr. Wendell Lim
University of California, San Francisco


Dr. Wendell Lim of the University of California, San Francisco (USCF) Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, shares his experience with the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition, a “Biotechnology Olympics” that brings together teams of students whose challenge is to design and build a novel genetically engineered system that carries out a useful function. The projects that have emerged from iGEM rival those of professional research laboratories and biotechnology companies in sophistication, and frequently exceed them in innovative thinking. Dr. Lim discusses how this innovative contest foreshadows new ways in which biology could be taught, practiced, and applied in the future.