News & Events


September 2011

A compilation of news from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). Published three times a year. Just scan these "shorttakes" for information on what's happening at the NIAMS, or access the complete articles for viewing or use in your own newsletter or other publication.

From the Director...

On Wednesday, September 28, 2011, the NIAMS Community Health Center (CHC) will celebrate its 10th anniversary in its new location at the Spanish Catholic Center, Cardinal McCarrick Center of Catholic Charities in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The NIAMS CHC has been part of the fabric of the Washington, D.C., area over the past decade. Founded by the NIAMS and Washington, D.C., area community stakeholders, the CHC conducts health disparities research in rheumatic diseases by providing specialty care to a traditionally underserved patient population. The clinical research conducted at the CHC helps the NIAMS better understand diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma, and gain insights about why many of these diseases affect people in certain minority communities more often and more severely.

Even before we opened our doors in 2001, we laid a strong foundation with community leaders and patient advocates by creating a partnership to ensure our long-term commitment to the Washington, D.C., area community. Now, 10 years later, we are proud to say that we have kept our promise. Since the program's inception, the CHC has enrolled more than 2,000 patients in the Natural History of Rheumatic Disease in Minority Communities study, and provided nearly 10,000 patient visits. In addition, the CHC has fostered several research collaborations, such as with the NIH Clinical Center Department of Nursing and Department of Bioethics. Numerous abstracts and scientific presentations have resulted from these studies, adding to the knowledge base about health disparities in rheumatic diseases.

The NIAMS CHC also offers a practical and unique training experience for the physician fellows participating in the NIH Rheumatology Fellowship Training Program, under the leadership of Dr. Mark Gourley. This two-year fellowship program provides a balance of both academic and clinical training, and fulfills all the requirements for certification by the American Board of Internal Medicine in Rheumatology. Since 2003, 29 fellows have successfully completed this training. Past fellows have voiced their appreciation at being afforded the opportunity to serve the CHC population.

Approximately 18 months ago, the CHC initiated a Biologic Financial Assistance Program in partnership with various drug assistance foundations. The program provides biologic medication to uninsured patients, which can cost from $5,000 to $10,000 per patient each year. Since the program's establishment, the NIAMS CHC has saved taxpayers approximately $1 million by diverting costs that would typically be absorbed by the NIH to these established pharmaceutical programs. More importantly, the NIAMS has enhanced medical access by ensuring that patients can continue to receive these expensive medications for their conditions if and when they transfer out of the NIAMS research protocol and receive medical care elsewhere.

We feel strongly that science has limited potential if it is not shared with a wider audience. Therefore, the Institute makes it a priority to disseminate science-based health information on rheumatic diseases to increase public awareness among patients and the local Washington, D.C., community. Over the past decade, the NIAMS has participated in hundreds of presentations and exhibits at local health events, highlighting the CHC at many of them.

Tomorrow's anniversary celebration at the Cardinal McCarrick Center will be an opportunity to showcase the CHC's accomplishments. NIH Director, Dr. Francis S. Collins, will be our keynote speaker, along with members of the NIAMS senior leadership, the Spanish Catholic Center's Medical Director, Dr. Marguerite Duane, a CHC patient, and a referring primary care provider.

We are both proud of and grateful to the many people whose dedicated and combined efforts have made the CHC program a success. It is an inspiring model of community engagement and collaboration.

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

Research Watch and Announcements . . .

A team of scientists at the NIAMS, in collaboration with researchers at the National Cancer Institute, have discovered that deletion of a gene called Distal-less 3 (Dlx3) in mice is associated with the development of a type of skin inflammation that involves the cell-signaling molecule, interleukin-17 (IL-17).

Full story:

Spinal surgery improves leg pain more than low back pain, and people with diabetes tend to experience less relief from spinal surgery than do those without diabetes. These are two of the most recent key findings of the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial (SPORT).

Full story:

Using data from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), researchers supported by the NIAMS have improved the understanding of the association between arthritis and the risk of broken bones.

Full story:

Mahendra S. Rao, M.D., Ph.D., has been selected as the director for the new NIH Intramural Center for Regenerative Medicine (NIH-CRM).

Full Story:

For future pharmacist Amber Grace, research provides an opportunity to discover innovative aspects of science.

Full story:

Research has found that for some patients, statins—a type of drug prescribed to help control cholesterol levels in the blood—appear to trigger a serious muscle condition that persists long after the statins are stopped.

Full story:

A research team studying the Marfan syndrome drug losartan has found a new therapy target for the disease.

Full story:

Scientists have provided an explanation for why mice, when genetically modified to lack an apoptosis-linked protein, develop an autoimmune disease similar to lupus.

Full story:

Transplanting stem cells into diseased muscle to help generate new muscle has been a strategy for scientists working on animal models of genetic muscle diseases like muscular dystrophy (MD). Recently, a research team used a new technique to produce enough cells to both ensure the transplantation and survival of the cells in mice, and to restore some lost muscle contractile properties.

Full story:

An important advance in the understanding of X-linked hypophosphatemia (XLH)—the most common heritable form of rickets—has led NIAMS-supported scientists to a potential treatment for a disorder in which low levels of phosphate lead to bone and tooth abnormalities.

Full story:

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA):

A multicenter psoriasis study benefits skin research—and a future doctor.

Full story:

Researchers at the Henry Ford Health System based in Detroit, Mich., are searching for biomarkers for the type of osteoarthritis that develops from a joint injury (post-traumatic osteoarthritis, or PTOA).

Full story:

Grants and Contracts . . .

The following announcements related to the NIAMS appeared in recent issues of the NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts. These announcements are made to the research community to express the NIAMS' interest in funding specific areas of research. For more information on NIAMS grants and contracts, visit the NIAMS website at, and the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts at

Requests for Applications

Small Business Innovation Research on Rare Musculoskeletal, Rheumatic and Skin Diseases (R43), RFA-AR-12-006. Issued: June 10, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: September 12, 2011; application receipt date: October 11, 2011.

Specialized Centers of Research (SCOR) on Sex Differences (P50), RFA-OD-11-003. Issued: June 28, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: September 4, 2011; application receipt date: October 4, 2011.

Sleep and Social Environment: Basic Biopsychosocial Processes (R21), RFA-HD-12-204. Issued: July 18, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: August 30, 2011; application receipt date: September 30, 2011.

Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (K12), RFA-OD-11-002. Issued: July 21, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: August 22, 2011; application receipt date: September 20, 2011.

Basic Research on Decision Making: Cognitive, Affective, and Developmental Perspectives (R01), RFA-MH-12-130. Issued: September 2, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: December 18, 2011; application receipt date: January 18, 2012.

Mechanistic Pathways Linking Psychosocial Stress and Behavior (R01), RFA-HL-12-037. Issued: September 22, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: November 19, 2011; application receipt date: December 19, 2011.

Requests for Applications (NIH Common Fund):

2012 NIH Director's Pioneer Award Program (DP1), RFA-RM-11-004. Issued: August 5, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: not applicable; application receipt date: October 7, 2011.

2012 NIH Director's New Innovator Award Program (DP2), RFA-RM-11-005. Issued: August 10, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: not applicable; application receipt date: October 14, 2011.

Economic Research on Incentives for Efficient Use of Preventive Services (R01), RFA-RM-11-012. Issued: August 22, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: October 15, 2011; application receipt date: November 15, 2011.

Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa): Collaborative Centers (U54), RFA-RM-11-008. Issued: August 23, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: September 30, 2011; application receipt date: December 2, 2011.

Human Health and Heredity in Africa (H3Africa): Research Grants (U01), RFA-RM-11-009. Issued: August 23, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: November 2, 2011; application receipt date: December 2, 2011.

Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa): Bioinformatics Network (U41), RFA-RM-11-010. Issued: August 23, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: November 2, 2011; application receipt date: December 2, 2011.

NIH Director's Transformative Research Awards (R01), RFA-RM-11-006. Issued: September 21, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: December 12, 2011; application receipt date: January 12, 2012.

Program Announcements:

Research Project Grant (Parent R01), PA-11-260. Issued: July 22, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: not applicable; application receipt date: standard dates apply, see announcement.

NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21), PA-11-261. Issued: July 22, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: not applicable; application receipt date: standard dates apply, see announcement.

Health Promotion for Children with Physical Disabilities through Physical Activity and Diet: Developing an Evidence Base (R21), PAR-11-284. Issued: August 2, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: 30 days prior to the applicable receipt date; application receipt date: standard dates apply, see announcement.

Health Promotion for Children with Physical Disabilities through Physical Activity and Diet: Developing An Evidence Base (R01), PAR-11-288. Issued: August 2, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: 30 days prior to the applicable receipt date; application receipt date: standard dates apply, see announcement.

Clinical Research Education and Career Development (CRECD) in Minority Institutions (R25), PAR-11-325. Issued: September 1, 2011; letters of intent receipt dates: October 2, 2011 and October 2, 2012; application receipt dates: November 2, 2011 and November 2, 2012.

Lab to Marketplace: Tools for Biomedical and Behavioral Research (SBIR [R43/R44]), PA-11-335. Issued: September 8, 2011; letters of intent receipt date: not applicable; application receipt date: standard dates apply: see announcement.

Highlights From the Hill, DHHS and NIH . . .

Congressional Briefing Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of NIAMS

On September 13, 2011, at the request of the NIAMS Coalition, Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., participated in a congressional briefing commemorating the 25th anniversary of the NIAMS that was sponsored by Representative Bill Young (R-FL). He was joined by Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX), Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Erik Fatemi, [Clerk, Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee for Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA)], and former Representative and Research!America chairman John Porter, who received awards for their commitment to biomedical research. NIAMS researchers and patients introduced the honorees and told their personal stories. The event was attended by congressional and NIAMS staff, as well as researchers, patients, and advocates from the NIAMS community.

Stem Cell Policy

On July 27, 2011, a U.S. District Court ruled that the NIH guidelines on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research do not violate federal law and dismissed a legal challenge to the funding.

More information can be found on the NIH Stem Cell Information website:

Pending Legislation: Stem Cells

On June 24, 2011, Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) introduced H.R. 2376, the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act of 2011. Similar to legislation that was introduced in the 111th Congress and vetoed by President Bush in the 110th Congress, H.R. 2376 would amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for human stem cell research, including human embryonic stem cell research. The bill would establish criteria for the use of human embryonic stem cells in research; require the Secretary of HHS to maintain and update guidelines applicable to the conduct and support of embryonic stem cell research; prohibit funding for human cloning; and require that a section on stem cell research be added to the NIH Biennial Report. This bill would put into law the stem cell policy that was created through the Executive Order on March 9, 2009. H.R. 2376 was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Pending Legislation: Small Business Programs

Congress passed a series of bills that temporarily extend the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 authorizing Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs. The current bill, signed into law on June 1, 2011, provides an extension to September 30, 2011.

Several bills concerning SBIR/STTR programs are at various stages of the legislative process. The primary issues of disagreement are the increase of the SBIR set-aside from 2.5 to 3.5 percent of the extramural budget, and the increase of the STTR set-aside from 0.3 to 0.6 percent. While most of the proposed legislation would increase the maximum award levels, there is still debate over the level of allowable venture capital involvement. Bills of note include H.R. 1425 and S. 493, both of which have been marked up and reported out of their respective committees.

For More Information

For other related legislative highlights, please refer to the webpage of the NIH Office of Legislative and Policy Analysis:

Budget Update

On September 20, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies approved a Fiscal Year 2012 bill that provides $30.5 billion for the NIH, a decrease of $190 million or 0.62 percent below the FY 2011 level. The amount proposed for NIAMS is $528.3 million, a reduction of $6 million and 1.13 percent below the FY 2011 level. The bill also creates the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), which includes the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN), and terminates the National Center for Research Resources. The FY 2012 House markup has been postponed, and has not been rescheduled. It is expected that NIH will begin FY 2012 with a continuing resolution.

At this time, the impact of the recently passed Budget Control Act on the NIH remains unclear. The caps on discretionary spending could result in further spending cuts for NIH, and NIH leadership is actively engaged in planning for operations with reduced budgets.

NIAMS Faces . . .

Four members of the NIAMS Advisory Council are leaving the council after three years of service: S. Wright Caughman, M.D., John H. Klippel, M.D., Ann Kunkel, Education Coordinator, and H. Lee Sweeney, Ph.D. The Institute thanks them for their many contributions, and wishes them well in future endeavors.

Mahendra S. Rao, M.D., Ph.D., has been appointed Director of the new NIH Intramural Center for Regenerative Medicine (NIH-CRM). He will hold a joint research appointment in the NIAMS and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). His educational background includes an M.D. from Bombay University in India, a Ph.D. in developmental neurobiology from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, and postdoctoral training at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland. He is internationally renowned for his research involving human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and other somatic stem cells. Dr. Rao has worked in the stem cell field for more than 20 years, with stints in academia, government, and regulatory affairs and industry.

The NIAMS will host the Laboratory of Oral Connective Tissue Biology, led by Martha J. Somerman, D.D.S., Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dr. Somerman holds a bachelor's degree in biology and a D.D.S. from New York University, a master's degree in environmental health from Hunter College, New York City, and a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Rochester, N.Y. She completed her periodontal residency at the Eastman Dental Center in Rochester, N.Y. Dr. Somerman is an internationally known researcher and educator whose research has focused on defining the key regulators controlling development, maintenance, and regeneration of oral-dental-craniofacial tissues.

After nine years at the NIAMS, Wilma Peterman Cross, M.S., joined the NIH Office of Disease Prevention (ODP), a part of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives as the Senior Public Health Advisor. Wilma's new role involves promoting and expanding the NIH's prevention portfolio and serving as a key point of contact between the NIH and other government entities to develop disease prevention and health promotion initiatives.

Kudos . . .

Joan McGowan, Ph.D., was honored with the Shirley Hohl Service Award from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR). The award is given to an individual whose activities represent the dedicated and unselfish devotion in service to the Society and its mission and goals, as exemplified by Shirley Hohl, the ASBMR's founding Executive Secretary. The award was presented at the ASBMR's annual meeting in September.

NIAMS Communications Update. . .

Public Information

In 2010, the NIAMS began research to determine what social media tools would be most effective for us, and how to best utilize those tools. Three new media services were chosen for pilot projects in 2011: Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.

Twitter: Since the launch of the NIAMS Twitter pilot project in January 2011, the reach of NIAMS Twitter messages has grown from 37 followers to over 700 followers. Tweets direct followers to NIAMS announcements, press releases, Spotlight on Research stories, and health information resources on the NIAMS website. The NIAMS posts an average of four to five tweets per week.

YouTube: The NIAMS Multimedia page features 13 videos on a wide variety of topics within the NIAMS mission. These videos are also posted on the NIH YouTube website.

Facebook: The Institute currently has two Facebook Pages: the "NIH Rheumatology Fellowship Program Page" and the "NIAMS Labs Page." A "NIAMS Facebook Page" is under development.

Public Liaison

NIAMS will host its fourth NIAMS Coalition Outreach Meeting on October 11, 2011, in Bethesda, Maryland. This one-day meeting will provide the NIAMS Coalition members with an opportunity to network and share best practices on the importance of connecting science to the public while learning more about the future directions of NIAMS-funded research.

Media Highlights

NIAMS Director Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., was a guest panelist on the June 16th The Diane Rehm Show. The program, "Sunscreen Labels and Skin Cancer," focused on the FDA's new requirements for over-the-counter sunscreen products marketed in the United States. The show can be accessed at

Dr. Katz also participated in an on-camera interview with Elsevier Global Medical News at the NIAMS 25th Anniversary Symposium in June. The discussion centered on NIAMS research highlights and challenges. Elsevier's symposium coverage, including Dr. Katz's interview, can be found at

NIAMS Scientific Director John J. O'Shea, M.D., was featured in the July issue of Nature Biotechnology. The article, "Psoriasis: from bed to bench and back," focused on agents in development for the treatment of psoriasis, including tofacitinib.

Mahendra S. Rao, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the NIAMS-administered NIH Intramural Center for Regenerative Medicine, will appear in the October issue of Nature Medicine in a question and answer feature on his new role.

Update on Equal Employment Opportunity . . .

On August 4, 2011, the NIAMS Career Development and Outreach Branch (CDOB) hosted a farewell social honoring the Institute's 2011 summer interns and their mentors. Highlights of the summer included: tours of the Library of Congress and the U.S. Capitol; a meeting and group photo with Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); and the presentation of the students' summer research at the annual NIH Summer Poster Day. The summer internship program provides a unique opportunity for talented students to come to the NIAMS for training and mentoring. Here they gain experience in the field of biomedical research, in particular, in the disease areas that the NIAMS supports.

Also this summer, the NIAMS hosted an intern from the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP), a recruitment and referral program coordinated by the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Defense. The WRP connects employers with highly motivated, post-secondary school students with disabilities who are eager to gain experience in the workplace through summer employment. The WRP intern assisted with research in various labs of the NIAMS Intramural Research Program (IRP).

The NIAMS CDOB continues its partnership with the SEED School of Washington, D.C. This tuition-free, lottery-selecting boarding school provides an academically rigorous college preparatory curriculum for middle and high school students from underserved inner-city areas. This summer, a SEED School student interned in the NIH Office of the Clinical Director, working on the Bisphosphonate Users Radiographic Characteristics of the Hip (BURCH) study. CDOB staff members are currently working on arrangements to have a group of students from the SEED School visit the NIAMS this fall.

Through the CDOB, the NIAMS leads the NIH Warriors Transition Program, an initiative that provides wounded service members the opportunity to transition back into the civilian workforce. The CDOB works with individuals interested in obtaining experience and training at the NIH. NIAMS staff members attended career fairs in June and July at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, sharing information about programs and opportunities for Wounded Warriors at the NIH. Of note: the Walter Reed Army Medical Center has closed its doors and merged with the Bethesda Naval Hospital. The new name is the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

In 2009, the NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education launched the NIH Community College Program to encourage community college students to consider undergraduate studies in science and/or health related disciplines. Mario E. Cerritelli, Ph.D., Chief of the CDOB, co-directs the program and its two core components: the Community College Summer Enrichment Program (CCSEP) and the NIH Community College Day. The CCSEP is part of the NIH Summer Internship Program which matches students with an Intramural investigator/mentor and project at the NIH and offers professional and academic development through workshops and courses. To learn more about the program, see the webpage at This year's NIH Community College Day will be held on October 11, in the Natcher Conference Center. Dr. Cerritelli will provide opening remarks.

Students from NIAMS' Adopt-a-School, Wheaton High School Academy of Biosciences and Health Professions, will attend the celebration of NIH National Hispanic Heritage Month Observance on October 5, 2011. The featured speaker will be Ernest D. Marquez, Ph.D., President of the Board of Directors for the Society for the Advancement of Native Americans and Chicanos in Science (SACNAS). Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, NIH, will give the opening remarks.

Upcoming Events . . .

Look for the NIAMS exhibit at the following events between now and the January 2012 issue:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics Annual Conference, Boston, MA, October 15-18, 2011
  • Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science Annual Conference, San Jose, CA, October 27-30, 2011
  • American Public Health Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC, October 29-November 2, 2011
  • American College of Rheumatology/American Rheumatology Health Professionals Annual Conference, Chicago, IL, November 5-9, 2011
  • Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, St. Louis, MO, November 9-12, 2011
  • American Indian Science and Engineering Society Annual Conference, Minneapolis, MN, November 10-12, 2011
  • NBC4 Health and Fitness Expo, January 14-15, 2012

Publications . . .

New Publications

Fibrous Dysplasia Overview

For information on arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases, including copies of NIAMS publications:

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Information Clearinghouse
National Institutes of Health

1 AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD 20892-3675
Phone: 301-495-4484
Toll free: 877-22-NIAMS (877-226-4267)
TTY: 301-565-2966
Fax: 301-718-6366

If you need more information about available resources in your language or another language, please visit our website or contact the NIAMS Information Clearinghouse at

For information on osteoporosis and other bone diseases, contact:

NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center

2 AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD 20892-3676
Phone: 202-223-0344
Toll free: 800-624-BONE (2663)
TTY: 202-466-4315
Fax: 202-293-2356

If you need more information about available resources in your language or another language, please visit our website or contact the NIAMS Information Clearinghouse at

For general information on NIAMS and its research programs, contact:

Office of Science Policy, Planning and Communications
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
National Institutes of Health

Building 31/Room 4C02
31 Center Drive, MSC 2350,
Bethesda, MD 20892-2350
Phone: 301-496-8190
TTY: 301-565-2966
Fax: 301-480-2814

If you need more information about available resources in your language or another language, please visit our website or contact the NIAMS Information Clearinghouse at

Compiled by the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, NIAMS; phone: (301) 496-8190; e-mail: