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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 . . .
Each year, NIAMS awards more than 200 grants to investigators; most take the form of "R01" grants. Historically, we have provided information about NIAMS-supported grants as the percentage of reviewed applications that were funded each year (the "success rate") and maintained an up-to-date webpage that describes our plans for funding grants in the current fiscal year. In response to community interest about our funding decisions in these austere budget times, we are posting additional data about the number of applications that NIAMS receives and awards as a function of how an application is ranked during peer review.
In brief, we base our decision to fund an application on a peer review group’s evaluation of its scientific merit (quantified as a "priority score") and on its relevance to Institute priorities. Throughout the year, we monitor the scores of NIAMS applications and prepare to fund all grants that rank better than a certain percentile. That percentile commonly is referred to as the "payline."
Success rates are determined at the end of a fiscal year by dividing the number of applications funded by the number of applications received and multiplying this quotient by 100. As the historic data show, NIAMS success rates exceed the percentile payline by a few percentage points. This is due to several factors, including our policy of funding some applications that are particularly relevant to the Institute's scientific and health priorities, even though their assigned scores and percentile rankings do not qualify for support under the stated payline. As NIAMS Director, I determine which projects are funded on a discretionary, or "select pay," basis following discussion with Institute staff. We include information about this process on our website as part of our funding plan.
The newest data that we are sharing show the distribution of grants that NIAMS funded up to the Institute’s payline and as the result of select pay decisions in fiscal year 2011. Graphs show the number of R01 applications and awards, as well as the R37s (R01-equivalent Merit Awards), as a function of their percentile ranking following peer review. They reflect the aggregate data for all R01 applicants regardless of career stage, and distinguish between established and new investigators. Data from fiscal year 2010 also are available, and we expect to provide data from 2012 at year’s end.
As part of our commitment to transparency and efforts to enhance communications about NIAMS activities, I invite you to share this information with all who may be interested.
Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.
National Institute of Arthritis and
Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Institutes of Health
Research Watch and Announcements . . .
Analysis of the hundreds of genes regulated by the DUX4 transcription factor reveals a new understanding of the pathology of facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD) and may lead to tools that accelerate the development of therapies.
For the first time, a consortium of researchers organized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has mapped the normal microbial makeup of healthy humans.
New research suggests that the cause of four common diseases — rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, coronary artery disease, and type 2 diabetes — is multiple genetic variants with small effects.
Using whole genome sequencing, a team of international researchers discovered a rare mutation associated with melanoma.
Information about hip replacement — including reasons to have the surgery, how to prepare for and recover from it, and ways to avoid complications — has been added to NIHSeniorHealth.gov, the senior-friendly health and wellness website from the NIH.
To help streamline the therapeutic development pipeline, NIH, in collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is leading an initiative to improve the process for predicting whether drugs will be safe in humans. The Tissue Chip for Drug Screening initiative is the first interagency collaboration launched by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).
Grants and Contracts . . .
For information on NIH Funding Opportunities related to the NIAMS, please subscribe to the monthly NIAMS Update (http://www.niams.nih.gov/News_and_Events/NIAMS_Update/2012/default.asp) or visit the Funding Opportunities List on the NIAMS website at http://www.niams.nih.gov/Funding/Funding_Opportunities/filter.asp and the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/index.html.
Highlights From the Hill, DHHS and NIH . . .
Congressional Hearing: NIH
On June 21, 2012, at the request of Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, NIH Director, Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., testified before the Subcommittee at a hearing on "The NIH—A Review of Its Reforms, Priorities, and Progress." Dr. Collins provided a general overview of NIH, discussed NCATS, provided an update on implementation of the NIH Reform Act, and addressed questions from Subcommittee Members.
Congressional Briefing: Lupus
On July 11, 2012, at the request of the Lupus Foundation of America, Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., joined the co-chairs of the Congressional Lupus Caucus at a briefing entitled, "Mitigating the Public Health Consequences of Lupus, the Prototypical Autoimmune Disease." The co-chairs are Representatives Tom Rooney (R-FL), William Keating (D-MA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Jim Moran (D-VA). Lupus researcher Dr. Susan M. Manzi from the West Penn Allegheny Health System and Temple University School of Medicine, as well as several patients, also spoke. The event was attended by congressional and NIAMS staff, as well as researchers, patients, and advocates from the lupus community.
New Legislation: FDA
On July 9, 2012, President Barack Obama signed S. 3187, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (P.L. 112-144). The bill authorizes for five years the FDA’s user fee program for prescription drugs and devices and establishes user fee programs for generic drugs and biosimilars, among other provisions.
Pending Legislation: Health Care Reform
On July 11, 2012, the House passed, by a vote of 244-185, H.R. 6079, the Repeal of Obamacare Act, which was introduced by Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) on July 9, 2012. This legislation is the latest of several bills introduced this Congress to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148). P.L. 111-148 contains several provisions of interest to NIH, including the establishment of the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, pain research provisions, and the elevation of the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities to an Institute. H.R. 6079 was jointly referred to the House Committees on Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, Education and the Workforce, Natural Resources, Judiciary, Administration, Rules, and Appropriations.
Pending Legislation: Autoimmune Diseases
On July 26, 2012, Representative Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY) introduced H.R. 6218, the Mary Colella Autoimmune Disease Awareness Act of 2012. Provisions would require the HHS Secretary to establish and maintain an Autoimmune Diseases Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee to coordinate governmental and private programs and activities relating to autoimmune diseases. The Committee would be required to (1) develop criteria for defining and identifying such diseases, (2) monitor relevant Federal, state, and private activities, (3) develop a strategic plan, (4) make recommendations regarding appropriate changes, including to the NIH Director, with respect to the strategic plan, and (5) submit a report to Congress on a biennial basis. Appropriations for up to $250,000 for each of the fiscal years 2013-2016 are authorized. H.R. 6218 was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Pending Legislation: Clinical Trials
On August 2, 2012, Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced H.R. 6272, the Trial and Experimental Studies Transparency (TEST) Act of 2012. The TEST Act is co-sponsored by Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). H.R. 6272 would expand upon the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 as it relates to clinical trials registration and results reporting on clinicaltrials.gov. Provisions would amend the Public Health Service (PHS) Act to (1) require all interventional biomedical studies on humans to be registered with the clinical trial registry database before the first participants are enrolled in the trial; (2) require that results from all covered trials are posted on the database within one year of completion of the trial; (3) provide for delayed submission of results (up to two years after trial completion) for trials on medical interventions that have never before been approved for any use; (4) instruct the HHS Secretary to undergo rulemaking to require foreign trials that are used to support an application for marketing in the United States to comply with the registration and reporting requirements of the database; and (5) instruct NIH and the FDA to provide a report to Congress regarding the implementation and compliance with the database requirements. H.R. 6272 was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Legislation: Government Oversight
In addition to those bills discussed in the June Shorttakes (http://www.niams.nih.gov/News_and_Events/Shorttakes/2012/shtke_6_12.asp) that aim to provide greater government oversight, several new pieces of legislation have been introduced.
- Government Spending Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 4631)
- The bill would prohibit agencies from paying travel expenses for more than 50 employees for any international conferences unless the Secretary of State determines that such attendance is in the national interest. The bill also would require that agencies post reports on their websites every quarter detailing the various travel expenses for conferences the agency paid during the prior three months. For FY 2013-2017, the bill would limit travel expenditures to 70 percent of the aggregate travel expenditures for FY 2010 and require OMB to determine what constitutes travel expenses.
- The bill would also prevent agencies from spending more than $500,000 to support a single conference and requires agencies to post on their websites materials on any presentation from employees of that agency at a conference. The bill defines ‘conference’ as a meeting or event to which an employee travels 25 miles or more to attend that is held for consultation, education, discussion, or training and is not held entirely at a government facility.
- Last Major Action: Reported by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (June 27, 2012)
- Sound Science in Agency Rulemaking and Risk Assessment Act (H.R. 5952)
- The bill would require each Federal agency to submit and obtain approval from the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy of guidelines for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of scientific information relied upon by the agency.
- Last Major Action: Introduced in the House (June 18, 2012)
- HHS Employee Compensation Reform Act of 2012 (H.R. 6214)
- The bill would: (1) limit the use of the Title 42 hiring authority mechanism to only the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), (2) limit the total Title 42 employees at HHS to five percent of total employees, (3) limit the pay of Title 42 employees by designating a salary cap equal to 150 percent of the annual rate of pay for Level 1 of the Executive Schedule (Level 1 pay is $199,700), (4) require HHS to annually report to Congress the number of Title 42 employees and break the numbers down by agency, and (5) provide that at any time, up to 50 individuals serving pursuant to this subsection may be paid without regard to the limitation on compensation if the Secretary finds that each such individual’s service is vital to support the activities of HHS. H.R. 6214 was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
- Last Major Action: Introduced in the House (July 26, 2012)
For More Information
For other related legislative highlights, please refer to the webpage of the NIH Office of Legislative and Policy Analysis: http://olpa.od.nih.gov/.
On June 14, 2012, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies marked up and reported on the FY 2013 Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill that would provide $30.7 billion for the NIH, an increase of $100 million from NIH’s President’s Budget request. The amount proposed by the Senate for NIAMS is $537.2 million, which represents an increase of approximately $2 million over the FY 2012 level.
On July 18, 2012, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education held their markup on the FY 2013 appropriations bill. The draft House bill includes $30.6 billion1 for the NIH, which is equal to both last year’s level and the President’s Budget request2. The NIAMS level for FY 2013 is $535.1 million, which is essentially flat with FY 2012, and almost $500 thousand less than the President’s Budget level. Within this funding, the legislation includes $175 million for the National Children’s Study, $488 million for Clinical and Translational Sciences Awards, and $376 million for Institutional Development Awards (IDeA) programs.
Once the House and Senate pass their respective appropriations bills, the Conference Committee will work to reconcile the differences between the two bills. A date for this has not yet been set, however, in anticipation of contentious decisions to be made on FY 2013 spending, the House and Senate leaders have already reached an agreement on a six-month Continuing Resolution for FY 2013 (to fund the government from October to March). This measure will be written during their August recess and voted on in September.
1Includes funding for evaluation
2Excludes Superfund and required Type 1 Diabetes funding
NIAMS Director Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., was honored by the Government of Japan with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon for his contributions to "the education of Japanese dermatologists and to the development and internationalization of dermatological research in Japan." Dr. Katz received his award at a ceremony at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador to the United States in Washington, D.C.
Eighteen members of the NIAMS staff received special recognition at the annual NIH Director’s Award Ceremony, held on Wednesday, July 18. The honorees were: Vittorio Sartorelli, M.D., for exemplary leadership in advancing research on the fundamental mechanisms regulating chromatin architecture and gene expression in health and diseases; Joan Mancuso for outstanding service to the NIAMS Intramural Research Program; Mark Gourley, M.D., Mike Ward, M.D., Alice Fike, Ph.D., Johanna Urdinola, Barbara Mittleman, M.D., and Isabel Ochoa as part of the NIAMS Community Health Center Initiative for their exceptional leadership in delivery of compassionate and cost-effective care, clinical research, and teaching at the NIAMS Community Health Center; and Mimi Lising, M.P.H., Robert Carter, M.D., Gerda Gallop-Goodman, M.P.H., Nancy Garrick, Ph.D., Gayle Lester, Ph.D., Anita Linde, M.P.P., Melanie Martinez, M.P.A., Trish Reynolds, R.N., M.S., Sara Rosario Wilson, Allisen Stewart, M.A., Mike Ward, M.D., Kaitaia Fu, and Gwenyth Wallen, R.N., Ph.D., as part of the NIAMS National Multicultural Outreach Initiative for their outstanding efforts in establishing the NIAMS Multicultural Outreach Initiative, dedicated to reaching underserved racial and ethnic populations.
The University of Michigan’s A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute has awarded the inaugural Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Science to NIAMS Advisory Council member, Harry C. Dietz, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The Taubman Prize is an annual award to recognize the clinician-researcher who has done the most to transform laboratory discoveries into clinical applications for patients suffering from disease.
NIAMS-supported researcher, Valerie Horsley, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the Yale School of Medicine, was chosen by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to be among the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) winners for 2011.
NIAMS Communications Update. . .
In July, the NIAMS received an NIH Director’s Award "in recognition of outstanding efforts to establish the NIAMS National Multicultural Outreach Initiative, dedicated to reaching underserved racial and ethnic populations." This recognition signals support by NIH and the Department of Health and Human Services for the NIAMS’ commitment to address disparities in health information among underserved populations.
The NIAMS recently completed its pilot study to test the effectiveness of two tailored health planners, and to analyze the distribution methods of four community-based organizations to reach multicultural communities. The four selected organizations distributed almost 7,000 planners, and offered valuable insight that will be used to help us prepare our national distribution strategy in 2013. The national distribution will include the development and dissemination of four tailored health planners, one for each multicultural population. The NIAMS is also developing an electronic toolkit to assist organizations with promoting the planners and raising awareness about NIH resources in their communities. The toolkit includes outreach tools and strategies, electronic templates of the four health planners for organizations to add their contact information, and an image gallery of multicultural photos for organizations to tailor materials for their communities.
The NIAMS launched a new Facebook page on March 26, 2012 as a companion to the Institute’s website and Twitter feed. Updates are posted daily, linking to news stories, publications, and other content posted on the NIAMS website (http://www.niams.nih.gov). Followers can receive these posts on their own Facebook wall through Web browsers on computers, as well as on mobile devices such as smartphones. Since the launch of the page, over 350 Facebook users have "liked" the NIAMS page.
Since the launch of the NIAMS Twitter project in January 2011, the reach of NIAMS Twitter messages has grown to over 1,850 followers. Tweets highlight new publications, press releases, Spotlight on Research stories, research advances, health information resources on the NIAMS website, and other news of the Institute in both English and Spanish.
NIAMS Coalition Activities
The NIAMS continues to work with the NIAMS Coalition to share the latest research advances and related developments, and to foster dialogue on the future path and directions of NIAMS-funded research. The NIAMS Coalition, a group of more than 70 professional and voluntary organizations, leads the Federal advocacy effort on research into the basic understanding, causes, incidence, treatment and prevention of diseases of the bones, joints, muscles, skin, and connective tissues.
This year, the Institute has engaged in several activities with the Coalition, including presenting at professional and voluntary meetings, providing opportunities to meet with Dr. Katz and other Institute leadership, and hosting NIH campus visits for organization volunteers and family members.
NIAMS Director Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., was featured in a story on NIH funding of dermatological research in Dermatology World. The story, "FUNDING THE FUTURE: Investigators step up their game to compete for NIH support," also included comments from several NIAMS grantees.
NIAMS Deputy Director Robert H. Carter, M.D., was interviewed by The Alliance for Lupus Research for a podcast that highlights federal support of lupus research. The program, "NIAMS and Lupus Research," can be accessed on the ALR website.
Joan A. McGowan, Ph.D., director of the NIAMS Division of Musculoskeletal Diseases, recently appeared in the Parents Magazine story, "Give Your Bones a Lift." Dr. McGowan discussed nutritional aspects of osteoporosis prevention.
Mahendra Rao, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the NIAMS Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology, was featured in stories in The Scientist ("The Little Cell That Could") and Drug Discovery & Development ("Bringing Stem Cells to the Forefront"). Both stories focused on the current and potential applications of stem cells.
NIAMS grantee Richard L. Gallo, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego, appeared in an NIH News in Health story, "Red in the Face: Understanding Rosacea." Dr. Gallo described the impact of rosacea, as well as current research advances.
Ana’s Story: How she and her family learned about sports injuries/La historia de Ana: Cómo ella y su familia aprendieron sobre las lesiones deportivas is a bilingual fotonovela that uses a comic-book style format to teach middle school kids how to avoid sports injuries. The fotonovela features teen soccer player Ana who sprains her knee during a pick-up game at a family picnic. Ana and her family learn the best way to treat a sports injury and how to avoid any future injuries. This is a must-read publication for active kids, parents and coaches!
Look for the NIAMS exhibit at the following events between now and the February 2013 Shorttakes issue:
- Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, Seattle, WA, Oct. 11-14, 2012
- American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, Minneapolis, MN, Oct. 12-16, 2012
- American Academy of Family Physicians, Philadelphia, PA, Oct. 17-20, 2012
- American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Anchorage, AK, Nov. 1-3, 2012
- Association Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, San Jose, CA, Nov. 7-10, 2012
- American College of Rheumatology/American Rheumatology Health Professionals, Washington, DC, Nov. 9-14, 2012
NIAMS Career Development and Outreach Update. . .
Approximately 24 students from diverse backgrounds participated in the 2012 NIAMS Summer Internship Program. On August 9, 2012, 16 of those students presented their research at the annual NIH Summer Poster Day. Highlights of the summer included meetings with the NIAMS Director, Dr. Stephen I. Katz, Scientific Director, Dr. John J. O’Shea, and Clinical Director, Dr. Richard Siegel. A tour of the U.S. Capitol was arranged that included a meeting and group photo with Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Students also presented their work during the weekly educational development sessions that were provided by the Career Development and Outreach Branch (CDOB). The summer internship program provides a unique opportunity for talented students to come to the NIAMS for training and mentoring. Here, the students 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 national 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 students with disabilities who are eager to gain experience in the workplace through summer employment. The intern assisted with research in a lab of the NIAMS Intramural Research Program (IRP).
CDOB continues its partnership with the SEED School of Washington, DC. 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. Positions were provided to two SEED School high school students in the NIAMS Summer Internship Program, one of whom was a returning student who interned in the NIH Office of the Clinical Director working on the Bisphosphonate Users Radiographic Characteristics of the Hip (BURCH) study.
Through the CDOB, the NIAMS leads the NIH Warrior Transition Program, an initiative that provides wounded service members the opportunity to transition back into the civilian workforce. The CDOB continues to work with individuals interested in obtaining experience and training at the NIH. NIAMS staff consistently meet with service members, correspond with staff from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and share information about NIH programs and opportunities that are available for wounded warriors. We are also working with staff from the Transition Program on developing special presentations for the wounded warriors on career development, resume writing and other skills.
The CDOB has arranged for the NIAMS' Adopt-a-School, Wheaton High School’s Academy of Biosciences and Health Professions, to attend the celebration of the NIH National Hispanic Heritage Month Observance on September 20, 2012. The theme for this year’s observance is Diversity United, Building America’s Future Today. The keynote speaker will be Nitza Cintron, M.D., Ph.D., an internal medicine practitioner at the University of Texas Medical Branch and the former Chief of NASA’s Space Medicine and Health Care Systems Office. CDOB staff have also arranged for the students to stop by the NIH Visitor Center and to tour the Clinical Research Center on the day of their visit.
Dr. Mario Cerritelli, Chief, Career Development and Outreach Branch, continues to lead the NIH Community College Summer Enrichment Program (CCSEP). The goal of CCSEP, now in its third year, is to increase the number of community college students who transfer to four-year colleges and universities and consider careers in the biomedical or health care fields. Twenty students participated this summer, working in laboratories across campus, including a special enrichment curriculum. In addition to the summer component, this initiative provides community college students and faculty the opportunity to visit the NIH campus, as part of Community College Day (CCD) to learn about careers and training opportunities in biomedical and health care fields. The CCD event, now in its fourth year, will take place on October 19, 2012, at the Natcher Conference Center on the Bethesda campus.
Dr. Mario Cerritelli chairs the trans-NIH Scientific and Medical Recruitment Forum (SMRF), sponsored by the NIH Office of Human Resources. The SMRF committee was recently offered a special opportunity to provide input to the NIH Pre-Implementation Team regarding the report of recommendations made by the Workgroup for Diversity in the Biomedical Workforce. This Workgroup, appointed by Dr. Francis S. Collins, presented its proposals to the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD).
Through a collaboration of CDOB and the NIH Office of Diversity Management and Minority Outreach, several Hispanic undergraduate students from the University of Arizona visited the NIH from August 6-10, 2012. The students met with Dr. Rafael Casellas, Chief, Genomics and Immunity Section, NIAMS, and Adjunct Investigator in the National Cancer Institute. This visit was part of a pilot program to establish a "diversity pipeline" for NIH extramural visiting student programs.
For information on arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases, including copies of NIAMS publications, contact:
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Institutes of Health
For information on osteoporosis and other bone diseases, contact:
NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center
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
For information on NIAMS Research Registries:
Compiled by the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, NIAMS; phone: (301) 496-8190; e-mail: NIAMSInfo@mail.nih.gov