For my birthday this past year, my husband bought me a book by Jill Lepore entitled These Truths – a nearly 1,000-page tome that tells the history of the United States, although describing it that way sells this wonderful book vastly short. What These Truths does is tell the complicated, messy, and intertwined stories of the people who collectively enacted and constituted the history of the United States. Like many, I read for pleasure only as I am falling off to sleep at night. This means it will be at least a few more months before I finish the book! But now, more than halfway through it, one thing is horrifyingly clear: slavery, persecution, hate crime, the advantage of assimilation and the deadly disadvantage of being identifiable as “other” have pervaded the history of this country since before its inception through the present day. To be sure, and somewhat reassuringly vis-à-vis the very humanity of the human race, outspoken and courageous opposition of people who viewed this to be wrong began almost as soon as the first enslaved person stepped on our shores. But too often, economics and xenophobia won out.Continue reading “Be Mindful of the Past and UNITE for the Future”
Recent successes of therapies aimed at replacing, blocking, or changing the reading of genes—referred to as gene therapy—have made real the prospect of improving outcomes for people with rare diseases. In September 2019, NINDS held a workshop entitled “Next Generation Strategies for Gene-Targeted Therapies of Central Nervous System Disorders” to brainstorm with scientists, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and patient advocates about the best ways of getting these cutting-edge treatments into the hands of doctors and scientists to help improve the lives of patients living with rare diseases.Continue reading “NINDS Aims to Address URGenT Need for Gene Therapies”
September is Pain Awareness Month. In recognition of this, NINDS Director Walter Koroshetz and National Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow have written a blog post highlighting NIH’s efforts to foster research, education, and patient care.
Pain is a symptom, a condition, not a disease. But do not let this fool you. Pain is among the most common and most disabling conditions known. It can be acute (sudden in onset and relatively short-lived) or chronic (long-lasting). Acute pain, most often with a known cause, sometimes becomes chronic pain. Often, it is not known why the transition occurs or why the pain persists.
It is estimated that between 20 and 30% of people have been affected by pain that lasted at least 24 hours in the past 6 months. Pain can afflict anyone at any age. While scientists have learned a great deal about pain and have developed medications, devices, and techniques that counteract some of the steps in the pathway that leads to initiation, production, and perception of pain, many medications that are effective against pain are addicting and those that are not are ineffective against the most severe and most chronic painful conditions.Continue reading “Combating Pain and Preventing Addiction”