Nathan Myhrvold, former chief technology officer for Microsoft, in “Even Genius Needs a Benefactor” (Scientific American, February 2016), makes a compelling case for government support of basic research. Fortunately, the increased federal budget allocation for NIH in 2016 shows that Congress and the president agree at least on this point. This issue of Einstein highlights examples of important basic research, as well as ways in which it is being translated to address medical needs.
In our cover story, “Zebrafish: A Small Fish with a Whale of an Impact,” we spotlight three researchers—Florence Marlow, Teresa Bowman and Ertugrul Ozbudak—whose zebrafish work is yielding valuable information about infertility, acute myeloid leukemia, congenital spinal defects and other conditions. The zebrafish’s fast reproductive cycle, transparency and genetic parallels with humans make it an excellent model organism for research.
“Healing All Wounds” exemplifies how Einstein basic research holds considerable promise for Montefiore clinical care. In Montefiore’s state-of-the-art Wound Healing Program, physicians are treating ulcers, bedsores and other wounds with unprecedented success. Approaching from the basic science angle is David Sharp in Einstein’s department of physiology & biophysics. When his research team deactivated an enzyme called fidgetin, wounds healed twice as fast as normal. The next step is to develop a therapy based on these findings, which would then be clinically assessed at Montefiore—
translational medicine at its best.
This issue also spotlights physician-scientist Joe Verghese, a 2001 graduate of Einstein’s Clinical Research Training Program. His background in neurophysiology, aging and dementia places him, as he puts it, “in an ideal position to build bridges between Einstein’s rich aging-related research in neurology and Montefiore’s extensive clinical services in geriatrics.” Joe is doing exactly that: he directs the Montefiore Einstein Center for the Aging Brain and leads our integrated divisions of cognitive & motor aging (neurology) and of geriatrics.
He and others in this issue of Einstein magazine show how our collaboration with Montefiore enhances our missions of research excellence, outstanding education and improved human health.