News & Events

NIAMS Update August 2015

An online resource for the NIAMS Coalition, Council, and Colleagues
August 20, 2015

The NIAMS Update is produced and distributed monthly by the NIAMS Office of Science Policy, Planning and Communications.


I am delighted to introduce Janine Clayton, M.D., Director of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health. Dr. Clayton is leading the NIH’s initiative to ensure that NIH-funded investigators consider sex as a biological variable in their pre-clinical research.

If you have comments or questions, please send them to Anita Linde, M.P.P.,

Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Guest Director’s Letter: Considering Sex as a Biological Variable in NIH-Funded Preclinical Research

Janine Clayton

Dear Colleagues:

Over the past year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has invested considerable time and effort toward ensuring that federally funded research that affects human health is the best it can be: both rigorous and reproducible. But there’s another “R”—NIH-funded research must also be relevant.

Read more.


Updated NIAMS 2015 Funding Plan Now Available

The NIAMS is operating under the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, with a budget level of $521,665,000. The funding plan for research and training grants represents the most current information as of December 24, 2014. However, many factors occurring throughout the fiscal year can affect the operating policies, thus they are subject to change. For clarification, it is always best to check with an appropriate Institute official.

NIAMS Requests Comment on Draft Action Plan for Lupus Research

On behalf of the NIH, the NIAMS is soliciting input from the lay public and research community on the draft NIH Action Plan for Lupus Research through a Request for Information in the NIH Guide. Organizations are strongly encouraged to submit a single response that reflects the views of their organization and membership as a whole. The draft plan will be available for comment through September 11, 2015.

Request for Information on the Development of the Federal Pain Research Strategy

In response to provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the NIH established the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (IRPCC) to coordinate all pain research efforts within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and across other federal agencies. A panel of experts will convene to provide recommendations in key pain research areas to move the field forward, with the ultimate goal to relieve pain and improve pain care through evidence-based studies. This request for information, issued by the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, invites public comment and input on the development of the federal pain research strategy. Comments must be received by September 18, 2015.

Protein’s Role in Inflammation Offers Novel Drug Development Strategy for Lupus

dendritic cell

A new study in mice has uncovered a role for a protein called TREML4 in spurring an inflammatory pathway linked to the development of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The research, which was funded in part by the NIAMS, suggests that TREML4 could be a promising drug target for SLE. The findings appeared recently in the journal Nature Immunology.

Image: Dendritic cell showing TLR7 (green) and the nucleus (blue). Excessive activation of the TLR7 inflammatory pathway has been linked to the development of lupus. Photo credit: Terry K. Means, Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital.

Potential Therapy for Osteoporosis Shows Promise for Treating Rare Brittle Bone Disease

typical bowed femur from OI patient (left), surgical rod fix (right)

An antibody that has been tested as a treatment for osteoporosis may also boost long bone strength in osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), according to a study funded by the NIAMS and conducted in mice. The study was published in the journal Bone. OI, also known as brittle bone disease, causes weak bones that are prone to fracture, especially in childhood.

Image: Typical bowed femur from an OI patient (left), which is often corrected by inserting a surgical rod (right). Photo credit: Michelle Caird, M.D., University of Michigan.

NIAMS Staff Join in the Fight Against Ebola

personal protective equipment

The unprecedented Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which has claimed more than 11,000 lives, prompted many NIH physicians, nurses, pharmacists and lab technicians to assist with the crisis, both at home and abroad. Among them were NIAMS staffers Paul H. Plotz, M.D.; Cheryl Talar-Williams, M.P.H., PA-C; Alice Fike, NP; April Brundidge, B.S.N., RN; and Lorena Wilson, NP. Some, like Fike and Wilson, spent countless hours caring for the Ebola patients admitted to the NIH Clinical Center’s Special Clinical Studies Unit (SCSU) in Bethesda, Maryland. “Volunteering at the SCSU helped me gain an appreciation for those taking care of patients overseas, especially those working in high-risk areas with minimal resources and assistance,” reflected Wilson.

Image: Personal protective equipment that has been used and washed, drying in the sun outside of Redemption Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. Photo credit: Alice Fike, NP, NIAMS.

High-Resolution 3D Images Reveal the Muscle Mitochondrial Power Grid: NIH Mouse Study Overturns Scientific Ideas on Energy Distribution in Muscle

A new study overturns longstanding scientific ideas regarding how energy is distributed within muscles for powering movement. Scientists are reporting the first clear evidence that muscle cells distribute energy primarily by the rapid conduction of electrical charges through a vast, interconnected network of mitochondria—the cell’s “powerhouse”—in a way that resembles the wire grid that distributes power throughout a city. The study offers an unprecedented, detailed look at the distribution system that rapidly provides energy throughout the cell where it is needed for muscle contraction.

Early Antiretroviral Therapy Prevents Non-AIDS Outcomes in HIV-Infected People: NIH-Supported Findings Illustrate Manifold Benefit of Therapy

Starting antiretroviral therapy early not only prevents serious AIDS-related diseases, but also prevents the onset of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other non-AIDS-related diseases in HIV-infected people, according to a new analysis of data from the Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment (START) study, funded in part by the NIAMS. The START study is the first large-scale randomized clinical trial to establish that earlier antiretroviral treatment benefits all HIV-infected individuals. Rates of both serious AIDS-related events and serious non-AIDS-related events were significantly reduced with early therapy.

NIH Body Weight Planner Added to SuperTracker Food and Activity Tool: Science-Based Technology Provides Users Greater Customizing To Help Reach and Sustain a Healthy Weight

African American family

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the NIH have partnered to add the NIH Body Weight Planner to USDA’s SuperTracker online tool as a goal-setting resource to help people achieve and stay at a healthy weight. Created in 2011, the SuperTracker tool empowers people to build a healthier diet, manage weight and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Users can determine what and how much to eat; track foods, physical activities and weight; and personalize with goal setting, virtual coaching and journaling. With science-based technology drawing on years of research, the Body Weight Planner will enable SuperTracker’s more than 5.5 million registered users to tailor their plans to reach a goal weight during a specific timeframe, and maintain that weight afterward.

White House Conference on Aging Showcases Physical Activity Through Go4Life Month: Campaign Asks Seniors To “Be Active Every Day!”

Go4Life logo

In collaboration with the White House Conference on Aging, Go4Life, the national exercise and physical activity campaign for people 50-plus from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the NIH, is bringing together more than 100 federal, state and local partners to encourage older adults to move more and stay active for better health with advancing age.

From Basic Research to Bioelectronic Medicine

By showing that our immune and nervous systems are connected, Kevin J. Tracey, M.D., of the North Shore-LIJ Health System’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, helped launch a new discipline called bioelectronic medicine. In this field, scientists explore how to use electricity to stimulate the body to produce its own disease-fighting molecules. When asked whether bioelectronic medicine has benefited patients, Dr. Tracey said that two small clinical trials in patients with rheumatoid arthritis showed promising results.

NIH Director’s Blog

Cool Videos: Better Computation, Better Hope for Movement Disorders

screenshot of video with animated characters

Avatar. Pick your Sim. The entertainment world has done an amazing job developing software that generates animated characters with strikingly realistic movement. But scientists have taken this one step further to create models that can help kids with cerebral palsy walk better, delay the onset of osteoarthritis, and even answer a question in the minds of children of all ages: How exactly did T. rex run? That’s what the researchers behind this video—an entrant in the NIH Common Fund’s recent video competition—have done.

Cool Videos: Battling Bad Biofilms

screencap of video

Periodically, I’ve posted some of the winners of the video competition to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the NIH Common Fund. After an intermission of several months, our scientific film fest is back to take another bow. This cool animation shows what some NIH-funded researchers are doing to address a serious health threat: hospital-acquired infections. Such infections can lead to hard-to-heal wounds, such as the foot sores that can trouble people with diabetes, and pressure ulcers in the elderly.

Bioengineering: Big Potential in Tiny 3D Heart Chambers

heart microchamber

The adult human heart is about the size of a large fist, divided into four chambers that beat in precise harmony about 100,000 times a day to circulate blood throughout the body. That’s a very dynamic system, and also a very challenging one to study in real-time in the lab. Understanding how the heart forms within developing human embryos is another formidable challenge. So, you can see why researchers are excited by the creation of tiny, 3D heart chambers with the ability to exist and even beat in a lab dish, or as scientists say “in vitro.”

Image: A heart microchamber generated from human-induced pluripotent stem cells; cardiomyocytes (red), myofibroblasts (green) and cell nuclei (blue). Photo credit: Zhen Ma, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley.

Other Federal News

White House Honors Precision Medicine “Champions of Change”

On July 8, the White House recognized nine individuals as “Champions of Change” for Precision Medicine for making a difference in transforming the way we improve health and treat disease. These individuals embody the promise of the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which was launched earlier this year to enable a new era of medicine through research and technology that empowers patients, researchers and providers to work together toward development of individualized treatments.

Warning of Heart Attack and Stroke Risk for Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Strengthened

drug facts

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is strengthening an existing warning in prescription drug labels and over-the-counter Drug Facts labels to indicate that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke, either of which can lead to death. Those serious side effects can occur as early as the first few weeks of using an NSAID, and the risk might rise the longer people take NSAIDs.

HHS Targets Funding, Programs To Help Older People Reduce the Risk of Falling

As part of the White House Conference on Aging, the Administration on Aging (AoA), a component of the Administration for Community Living, announced the award of $4 million in new grants to significantly expand falls prevention efforts. The funding will reach communities in seven states over the next two years, expanding the reach of AoA’s falls prevention efforts to more than 18,000 additional older Americans. The grants will both increase participation in evidence-based community programs to reduce falls and falls risk as well as improve the programs’ long-term sustainability.

Major Initiative for Hip and Knee Replacements Proposed: Model Supports Quality and Care Improvements for Patient’s Transition From Surgery to Recovery

Hip and knee replacements are some of the most common surgeries that Medicare beneficiaries receive. In 2013, there were more than 400,000 inpatient primary procedures, costing more than $7 billion for hospitalization alone. While some incentives exist for hospitals to avoid post-surgery complications that can result in pain, readmissions to the hospital or protracted rehabilitative care, the quality and cost of care for these hip and knee replacement surgeries still vary greatly among providers. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has proposed a new Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement model. A fact sheet is available for more information. The proposal is available here. The deadline to submit comments is September 8, 2015.

Should You Put Sunscreen on Infants? Not Usually

infant and mom under beach umbrella

You’re at the beach, slathered in sunscreen. Your 5-month-old baby is there, too. Should you put sunscreen on her? Not usually, according to Hari Cheryl Sachs, M.D., a pediatrician at the FDA. “The best approach is to keep infants under 6 months out of the sun,” Sachs says, “and to avoid exposure to the sun in the hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when ultraviolet (UV) rays are most intense.”

FDA Authorizes Use of Prosthesis for Rehabilitation of Above-the-Knee Amputations

The FDA authorized use of the first prosthesis marketed in the U.S. for adults who have amputations above the knee and who have rehabilitation problems with, or cannot use, a conventional socket prosthesis.

New Publications and Products

Spotlight on Scientific Imagery: Inside a Virus That Infects Bacterium

cryo-electron microscopy reconstruction of the bacteriophage phi-6 procapsid sliced open to show the four types of protein

This image is a cryo-electron microscopy reconstruction of the bacteriophage phi-6 procapsid sliced open to show the four types of protein. Blue represents the main capsid shell protein; red represents the hexameric packaging NTPase, which is responsible for packaging the single-stranded RNA genome into the procapsid; purple represents the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, which replicates and transcribes the genome; and yellow represents the small protein required for packaging. The background shows a typical cryo-electron micrograph from which the procapsid reconstruction was calculated. This bacteriophage is a model system for certain viruses that cause more than half a million deaths of children every year. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of assembly, packaging and maturation of viruses such as this may help researchers develop therapies against the virus. This image is courtesy of the NIAMS Laboratory of Structural Biology Research, and is in the public domain.

BioArt: Scientific Image and Video Competition Now Underway External Web Site Policy


Through the BioArt competition, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) aims to share the beauty and excitement of biological research with the public. FASEB encourages the submission of captivating, high-resolution images and videos representing cutting-edge, 21st century biomedical and life science research. These laboratory-based images must be original photographs, illustrations, data visualizations or videos from current or former U.S. federally funded investigators, contractors or trainees and/or members of FASEB constituent societies. Images from NIAMS-funded researchers have previously been selected and featured in the NIH Director’s blog. The deadline for submission is August 31, 2015.

LabTV: Highlighting Careers in Science External Web Site Policy

screenshot of Pravitt R. Gourh, M.D.

For the past year, LabTV External Web Site Policy has been working with the NIH to produce a series of mini-documentary videos featuring promising young researchers at the NIH. This month, we are introducing Pravitt R. Gourh, M.D. External Web Site Policy, Clinical Fellow in the Rheumatology Fellowship and Training Branch.

National Health Observances and Related NIAMS Resources

The NIAMS National Multicultural Outreach Initiative webpage highlights upcoming national health observances and related NIAMS resources. September is National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Meet the Faces of Clinical Research Video: Beyond Inclusion External Web Site Policy

screencap of video

The NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health, along with the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health, invites you to watch this interactive and engaging panel discussion held during National Women’s Health Week (May 10–16, 2015). This panel event celebrates and recognizes the importance of women and diversity in clinical research. You’ll hear from volunteers who have participated in clinical research at the NIH and the professionals that support them and our health advances.

NIH SeniorHealth: Tai Chi and Qi Gong

screencap of video

Tai chi and qi gong can help your balance. They are closely related practices from traditional Chinese medicine that combine specific movements, coordinated breathing and mental focus. Researchers are studying whether tai chi or qi gong can help people manage symptoms associated with some chronic conditions, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and heart failure. See additional information here.

Chartbook on Healthy Living

Chartbook on Healthy Living

The Healthy Living Chartbook is part of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) family of documents and tools that support the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report. The chartbook includes a summary of trends in measures of healthy living and shows figures illustrating some measures of healthy living. A PowerPoint version [PPTX - 2.1 MB] is also available for download to use for presentations.

NIH News in Health

Read practical health information in NIH News in Health, which is reviewed by the NIH’s medical experts and is based on research conducted either by the NIH’s own scientists or by its grantees at universities and medical schools around the country.

Protect Your Skin From Sun Damage

Sun and skin

The sun helps your skin make vitamin D to keep your bones healthy. The sun can also help improve your mood and keep your sleep schedule regular. But too much sun can lead to sunburns and other damage that you can’t see. A new video from NIH—So Far and Yet So Close: The Sun and Your Skin External Web Site Policy—can help you learn how to avoid the sun’s harmful effects.


September NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting

The NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting will be held September 8, 2015, in Building 31, 6th Floor, C Wing, Conference Room 6, NIH Campus. A meeting agenda is available. This Council meeting will be available for live viewing via the NIH videocasting service as well.

NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting

NIH Council of Councils Meeting

September 1, 2015
1–4 p.m.
Building 31, C-Wing, 6th Floor, Conference Room 10
An agenda will be posted before the meeting date.
The meeting will be videocast.

NIH Science Event: Linking Disease Model Phenotypes to Human Conditions External Web Site Policy

September 10–11, 2015
NIH Fishers Lane Conference Center
View the agenda External Web Site Policy
Registration is available here External Web Site Policy.

AHRQ Annual Research Conference

October 4–6, 2015
Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center
1700 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, VA 22202
Registration information and agenda External Web Site Policy

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) First Annual Meeting External Web Site Policy

October 6–8, 2015
Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center
1700 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, VA 22202
Registration information and agenda External Web Site Policy

National Institute of Nursing Research’s (NINR) 30th Anniversary Scientific Symposium and Poster Session

NINR Scientific Symposium logo

October 13, 2015
8 a.m.–3:45 p.m.
NIH Campus, Natcher Auditorium (Building 45)
Cost: Free
View the draft agenda
Registration is available here.

NIH Digital Summit: Optimizing Digital Media To Reach Scientists, Clinicians, Patients and the Public

October 19, 2015
8 a.m.–3 p.m.
NIH Campus, Lipsett Amphitheater (Building 10)
Cost: Free
Registration is available here External Web Site Policy.
The meeting will also be videocast.

NIH Director’s Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series

The 2015–2016 Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series (WALS) starts on September 2 with neuroscientist Edward Boyden, the founder of and principal investigator at MIT’s synthetic neurobiology group. The 2015–2016 WALS schedule will be posted on the WALS website.

NIH Science Lectures and Events Available Online

The NIH hosts a number of science seminars and events that are available online through real-time streaming video. You can watch an event at your convenience as an on-demand video or a downloadable podcast. Most events are available to all; a few are broadcast for the NIH or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and are marked as such. See additional details on events.

Funding Announcements

NIAMS Announcements

Pre-Application: Opportunities for Collaborative Research at the NIH Clinical Center (X02)

Letter of Intent Receipt Date: Not applicable
Application Receipt Dates: December 15, 2015; December 15, 2016; and December 15, 2017

Opportunities for Collaborative Research at the NIH Clinical Center (U01)

Letter of Intent Receipt Date: Not applicable
Application Receipt Dates: April 11, 2016; April 11, 2017; and April 11, 2018

Direct Phase II SBIR Grants To Support Extended Development, Hardening and Dissemination of Technologies in Biomedical Computing, Informatics and Big Data Science (R44)

Letter of Intent Receipt Date: 30 days prior to Standard Due Dates
Application Receipt Dates: Standard dates apply

Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) Development of Software Tools and Methods for Biomedical Big Data in Targeted Areas of High Need (U01)

Letter of Intent Receipt Date: September 6, 2015
Application Receipt Date: October 6, 2015

NIH Common Fund Initiative Announcement

Facile Methods and Technologies for Synthesis of Biomedically Relevant Carbohydrates (U01)

Letter of Intent Receipt Date: September 15, 2015
Application Receipt Date: October 15, 2015

Novel and Innovative Tools To Facilitate Identification, Tracking, Manipulation and Analysis of Glycans and Their Functions (R21)

Letter of Intent Receipt Date: September 15, 2015
Application Receipt Date: October 15, 2015

Novel and Innovative Tools to Facilitate Identification, Tracking, Manipulation and Analysis of Glycans and Their Functions (U01)

Letter of Intent Receipt Date: September 15, 2015
Application Receipt Date: October 15, 2015

Other Funding Announcements

Advance Notice: NIH Anticipates Transition to New Research Training Data Table Formats in FY 2016


Notice of Corrections PAR-14-228 “NIH Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) (R25)”


Request for Information (RFI): Inviting Comments and Suggestions on the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program (the National Children’s Study Alternative)


Notice About Updates to iEdison Regarding Reporting Requirements and Compliance Messages


Notice: Standardized Test Scores Are No Longer Required in Biosketches for Individual Fellowship Applications (F30 and F31)


Extramural Loan Repayment Program for Clinical Researchers (LRP-CR)


Extramural Loan Repayment Program for Pediatric Research (LRP-PR)


Extramural Loan Repayment Program for Health Disparities Research (LRP-HDR)


Extramural Loan Repayment Program for Contraception and Infertility Research (LRP-CIR)


Extramural Clinical Research Loan Repayment Program for Clinical Researchers From Disadvantaged Backgrounds (LRP-IDB)


ASSIST Now an Option for Institutional Training and Career Development (Ts and K12), Other Training Grants (Ds) and Various Research Applications


If you would like to review information about funding opportunities more frequently than our monthly updates allow, see the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, the primary source for information about NIH funding opportunities. You can also request a weekly Table of Contents from the NIH Guide.

Read More At NIAMS