News & Events

NIAMS Multicultural Outreach News January 2010

NIAMS - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Multicultural Outreach News
Learn, Connect, Share.
January 29, 2010
The NIAMS Multicultural Outreach News is an online quarterly digest to help keep our partners informed about information and resources for multicultural communities on diseases and conditions of the bones, joints, muscles and skin.
Contact Information

Sara Rosario Wilson
Multicultural Outreach

Mimi Lising, M.P.H.
Multicultural Health Educator

Janet S. Austin, Ph.D.

Office of Communications and Public Liaison


Feature Story

NIAMS Summer Internship Program Trains Future Scientists

Photo of NIAMS Summer interns
NIAMS Summer Interns in Biomedical Research, 2009

Each year, the NIAMS Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research offers a unique opportunity for students to spend a summer working side by side with some of the most talented scientists and clinicians in the world in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research. The internship exposes students to the multifaceted dimensions of the NIAMS Intramural Research Program and its diverse biomedical research projects that study various aspects of bones, joints, muscles, and skin.

The program has helped many students realize their potential as researchers and clinicians. Former intern Ixchel Montenegro, now a sophomore at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, reflects, “The internship helped me assess my skills and helped secure my passion for helping to improve individuals’ health. I know that my career will be health-related because of my time at NIH.”

Students learn how to conduct cutting-edge basic and clinical research in a focused research environment where critical thinking and hard work are valued and rewarded. They learn firsthand how scientific methods, research ethics, and specialized technologies are used to answer complex research questions. Students also enhance their written and oral communication skills by presenting scientific results at journal clubs, lab seminars, and the annual National Institutes of Health (NIH) Summer Research Poster Day. By the end of the program, students are better equipped with skills to help them compete for graduate school, medical school, fellowships, and permanent employment.

Leading scientific investigators serve as role models and career mentors for the students. Interns have found that the mentoring aspect is a vital part of their success in the program. Jose Roma, one of the NIAMS previous summer interns, recalls, “The mentoring was invaluable in my experience at the NIH. My mentor took time and effort to teach me how to be efficient and productive in the lab during my internship.”

The summer internship program is extremely competitive. In a typical year, NIH receives more than 6,000 applications; however, only approximately 1,000 students are chosen. NIAMS typically accepts 35 to 45 students each year. “The most challenging aspect related to the summer program,” says Dr. Mario Cerritelli, Chief of the NIAMS Career Development and Outreach Branch, “is choosing the best students from such a large number of qualified applicants. With so many deserving students, it is hard to choose only a few.”

Do you know a student who might be interested in the NIAMS Summer Internship Program? The deadline to apply is March 1, 2010. For more information please go to

Multicultural News & Events

Most Mexican Patients Prefer Their Rheumatologist to Make Treatment Decisions for Them
When patients in the United States are surveyed about the role they want to play in their health care, most claim they want to actively participate. A new study finds that patients south of the U.S. border prefer to take a more passive approach in their care. Researchers surveyed 200 patients who were being treated in Guadalajara, Mexico, for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or other rheumatic diseases—all chronic conditions that require regular medical visits. The patients indicated a moderate level of trust in their doctors, giving them an average score of 7 on a 10-point scale. When surveyed before their appointments, 61 percent of patients said they wanted their doctor to take the lead in making decisions about their care. Only 39 percent of patients said they wanted to take an active role with their provider in making treatment decisions. The results contradict earlier studies that suggest that patients with chronic conditions often prefer to take active roles in their care.

Upcoming Conference Addresses Disparities and Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest significant amounts of lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. The most affected individuals, referred to as lactase nonpersisters, in the United States belong to minority groups, especially Asians, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders.

The public health burden from deficiencies attributable to lactose intolerance is difficult to quantify. Questions remain as to the amount, if any, of lactose that can be tolerated by lactase nonpersisters, and how best to assist these individuals in meeting recommended intakes. To examine these important issues, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the NIH will convene a Consensus Development Conference, February 22 to 24, 2010, to assess the available scientific evidence related to the following questions:

  • What is the prevalence of lactose intolerance, and how does this prevalence differ by race, ethnicity, and age?
  • What are the health outcomes of dairy exclusion diets?
  • What amount of daily lactose intake is tolerable in subjects with diagnosed lactose intolerance?
  • What strategies are effective in managing individuals with diagnosed lactose intolerance?
  • What are the future research needs for understanding and managing lactose intolerance?

This conference is free and open to the public. Conference registration, agenda, and other details are available at

Featured Resources

The NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center (NRC) has released a 12-month pocket planner that contains tips and resources for improving bone health. Each month of the planner offers a unique strategy for enhancing bone health, such as:

  • Getting enough calcium and vitamin D.
  • Staying active for strong bones.
  • Talking to your health care provider about your bone health.

The planner also includes space to schedule activities for optimizing bone health, as well as a list of selected calcium-rich foods. Free planners are available in quantities of up to 15. To order, please contact NRC at 800-624-2663 or order online.

NIAMS Bilingual Publication on Joint Replacement SurgeryNEW! NIAMS Bilingual Publication on Joint Replacement Surgery
Joint Replacement Surgery/Cirugía de Reemplazo Articular is a new bilingual booklet from NIAMS that contains general information about joint replacement surgery in Spanish and in English. The booklet describes some things to think about when considering joint replacement surgery and different types of surgery that are available. It also highlights some examples of what happens during and after joint replacement surgery. Other sources of information are also included. This easy-to-read publication is available to order free of charge on NIAMS’ Website. To inquire about bulk orders for health fairs, please contact Sara Rosario Wilson.

NIH News in Health
Read practical health information in NIH News in Health, which is reviewed by NIH’s medical experts and is based on research conducted either by NIH’s own scientists or by our grantees at universities and medical schools around the country. The January 2010 issue features an article about acne with related resources from NIAMS.

NIH MedlinePlus Salud MagazineNIH MedlinePlus Salud Magazine
This quarterly magazine in Spanish presents readers with the best in reliable, up-to-date health information. The publication includes the latest breakthroughs from NIH-supported research and features people from all walks of life talking about how they've handled their health challenges. The magazine also is available in English and subscriptions are free of charge.

Did You Know?

Your skin is the largest organ in the body, and like all other organs, must be kept in good working order. Your skin is exposed to the environment 24 hours a day and can really take a beating during the winter months. But caring for your skin is easy.

Read more about skin health

Health Partnership Program Update

The NIAMS Health Partnership Program Tackles Health Disparities and Promotes Community-based Research
Health Partnership Program logoThe Health Partnership Program (HPP) is a collaborative effort between NIAMS and Washington, D.C.-area community organizations and representatives. The HPP helps address health disparities in arthritis and other rheumatic diseases and promotes community-based medical research by focusing on public health education, patient care, access to clinical investigations, and recruitment to research careers. HPP partners are local government agencies, schools and universities, faith-based organizations, civic and community groups, voluntary and professional organizations, and private businesses. HPP partners offer input on the HPP’s direction and help promote NIAMS research, training, and education resources.

The NIAMS Community Health Center Offers Rheumatic Care to the Underserved

NIAMS Community Health CenterThe NIAMS Community Health Center (CHC), located in the Unity Health Care, Inc.’s Cardozo Clinic in northwest Washington, D.C., is part of the HPP and serves as the platform for its research, education, and training activities. Opened in 2001, the CHC offers patient care with access to a rheumatology specialist, health information and education programs, and referral to clinical investigations for the prevention and treatment of arthritis, lupus, and other rheumatic diseases. Health information and education programs are available to everyone, including patients, their family members, and friends. People who have been diagnosed with, or suspect they have arthritis, lupus, or any other rheumatic disease may be able to receive medical attention at the health center by physician referral. All patients at the CHC are enrolled in the Natural History Study of Rheumatic Diseases in Minorities, which is designed to gather information on how minority populations are disproportionately affected by rheumatic diseases. All participation in the health center’s programs is completely voluntary and all medical care related to the rheumatology condition after being accepted into the program is free.

News From the Community Health Center

Photo of Alice Fike, M.S., C.R.N.P.
Alice Fike, M.S., C.R.N.P.

Cardozo Clinic Welcomes New Nurse Practitioner
Alice Fike, M.S., C.R.N.P., joined NIAMS in 2009 as a family nurse practitioner for the NIAMS Community Health Center (CHC) in Washington D.C. Being a nurse has exposed Fike to a variety of professional experiences, both domestically and abroad. She has worked in sub-Saharan Africa, juvenile and adult detention centers, and urban teaching hospitals. She also has experience in tuberculosis care and health disparities research. Although Fike’s career has taken her numerous places, the common thread is her work with underserved populations. “Probably the greatest challenges experienced by these populations would be related to access to care and language barriers,” she said.

Fike was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. After earning a B.S. in nursing from Syracuse University, she spent two years working as a Peace Corps volunteer at a rural community health clinic in the West African country of Burkina Faso. Due to a lack of physicians in Burkina Faso, registered nurses performed duties that nurse practitioners do in the United States. This experience sparked her interest in becoming a nurse practitioner. Fike received her M.S. in nursing from the University of California, San Francisco.

Although Fike has diverse work experiences, the field of rheumatology is new to her and presents an exciting and positive challenge. As a community-based research program, the CHC fills a community need by offering patients access to expert rheumatology care they otherwise might not be able to obtain. The program also gives NIH researchers the ability to access patients most affected by rheumatic diseases, and to conduct multiple studies that would be difficult to carry out in a research hospital setting.

The challenge of serving a multicultural, multilingual population does not faze Fike. She understands the key to developing trusting, effective doctor/patient relationships is by educating fellows and staff on the successful navigation of language barriers. The staff at the CHC helps to narrow this divide. “The bilingual staff contributes immeasurably to the success of the clinic through their expertise and commitment to excellent patient care,” Fike acknowledges.

While at the CHC, Fike will help provide the highest quality and most efficient rheumatology care possible, continue to refine the referral process so the maximum number of patients in need can be seen, and involve the clinic in health disparities research. Reflecting on her new role, she says, “The most rewarding aspect of working at the CHC has been helping patients navigate the system and gain understanding and control of their disease.”

Besides her dedication to being a family nurse practitioner, Fike loves to travel and try new foods. She considers herself an adventurous cook and foodie.

Where is the NIAMS?

The NIAMS exhibit will be traveling to the following events:

American Academy of Dermatology
March 5 to 9, 2010
Miami, Fla.

Joint Conference of the American Society on Aging and the National Council on the Aging
March 15 to 19, 2010
Chicago, Ill.

Dermatology Nurses Association
March 25 to 28, 2010
Orlando, Fla.