News & Events

Shorttakes

June 2015

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 . . .

Partnering To Broaden Our Impact

Each year, the NIAMS receives many worthy grant applications from talented researchers, but budgetary constraints prevent us from funding them all. We are always looking for creative ways to ensure the best science is supported, even if we are unable to fund it. Partnering with organizations that share our goals, including other government agencies, industry, patient groups and professional organizations, helps us extend our impact beyond our own resources and leverage our investments in research and training, which benefits everyone.

For example, since 2007, we have been partnering with NASA to facilitate research on the International Space Station and to integrate results from that research into an improved understanding of human physiology and health. This relationship continues to this day, with recent research on osteocytes and bone density loss. The results from this study, supported by the NIAMS, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, will serve dual purposes. It will help NASA understand the effects of microgravity on osteocytes, which will be critical as astronauts plan for future missions that require longer exposure to microgravity. Most relevant to the NIAMS mission is the potential for the findings to help patients on Earth who have bone disorders related to disuse or immobilization, or metabolic diseases such as osteoporosis.

Collaborations with industry and nonprofit organizations can redouble resources in such a way that can bring within reach a previously difficult-to-attain goal. The NIH Accelerating Medicines Partnership is a primary example of multiple parties with common interests coming together. AMP partners, including the Arthritis Foundation (AF), the Lupus Foundation of America, the Rheumatology Research Foundation (RRF), and the Lupus Research Institute/Alliance for Lupus Research—all NIAMS Coalition members—aim to transform current models for developing new diagnostics and treatments by identifying and validating promising biological targets. In addition to diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, AMP is addressing the autoimmune diseases rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, which I discussed last October. By taking a "team science" approach, partners are focused on boosting our understanding of autoimmune diseases significantly, which should ultimately help us improve our treatment of them.

Other initiatives that have successfully leveraged resources include the Bone Quality Project External Web Site Policy, a component of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health’s (FNIH) Biomarkers Consortium. The Project, of which the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research—another NIAMS Coalition member—is a core partner, aims to increase our understanding of osteoporosis and pave the way for more effective treatments. The FNIH-led Osteoarthritis Biomarkers Project External Web Site Policy , part of the Osteoarthritis Initiative, will do the same for osteoarthritis. The support of the AF, among other partners, helped make the project possible.

Professional organizations can also help augment career opportunities for promising early-stage investigators who may need additional support to ensure steady footing on their career path. For example, the RRF provides bridge funding External Web Site Policy to talented investigators who are in a transitional career period in which a steady stream of funding may not yet be available to them. These awards can help them stay the course of their chosen career, and perhaps one day make a significant discovery.

Furthermore, by teaming up with voluntary organizations, we are able to increase recruitment for clinical studies. Recently, the Vasculitis Translational Research Program of the NIAMS Intramural Research Program has been working with the Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium (VCRC) to spread the word about a new vasculitis-related clinical research opportunity at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md. The VCRC is an integrated group of academic medical centers, patient support organizations such as the Vasculitis Foundation, and clinical research resources dedicated to conducting clinical trials for the different forms of vasculitis.

The NIAMS is always interested in partnerships and collaborative efforts than can potentially benefit the research community, patients and the Institute’s mission. We look forward to future opportunities to work together to turn discovery into health.

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

Research Watch and Announcements . . .

The NIH’s Common Fund launched a program to catalogue the biological molecules that are affected by physical activity in people, identify some of the key molecules that underlie the systemic effects of physical activity, and characterize the functions of these key molecules. This molecular map will help us understand how physical activity translates into better health.

Many people with a rare muscle disease called dermatomyositis carry antibodies to a protein called T1F1γ. Research findings suggest that an autoimmune attack on T1F1γ may contribute to the muscle inflammation that characterizes the disease.

A bioengineered molecule designed to bind together key components found in the fluid that surrounds joint areas may improve lubrication and minimize friction.

Scientists have discovered a potential biomarker for predicting which patients with a disease known as ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV) are more likely to respond to treatment.

Two studies describe efforts to develop stem cell-based approaches for treating epidermolysis bullosa (EB), a rare, genetic skin disease.

Research on the effects of microgravity on osteocytes is in progress on the International Space Station.

A study into a key bone-growing protein was recently funded to take place in orbit aboard the International Space Station.

Research on T-cell (immune) function in older adults External Web Site Policy is being conducted on the International Space Station.

Long-term follow-up data from two large orthopaedic studies may help guide clinical practice.

Two studies provide fresh clues into the genetic factors involved in predisposing to obesity.

Investigators have discovered the genomic switches of a blood cell are key to regulating the human immune system.

Grants and Contracts . . .

For information on NIH Funding Opportunities related to the NIAMS, please subscribe to the monthly NIAMS Update or visit the Funding Opportunities List on the NIAMS website and the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts.

The NIH announced a funding opportunity titled, "Validation of Pediatric Patient Reported Outcomes in Chronic Diseases (PEPR) Consortium (U19)." The Consortium will capitalize on recent advances in the science of Patient Reported Outcomes to assess the health of children with a variety of chronic diseases and conditions in clinical research and care settings. It will feature the use of the Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS®) pediatric self-report and parent proxy instruments.

Highlights From the Hill, DHHS and NIH . . .

House Energy and Commerce 21st Century Cures Initiative

For the past year, the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee has been engaged in the 21st Century Cures initiative, which seeks to facilitate the discovery, development, and delivery of medical innovations to improve the health of Americans. On April 29, a discussion draft was released. On May 13, an updated discussion draft was marked up by the Health Subcommittee, and on May 19 and 21, the bill (H.R. 6) was marked up by the full Committee.

  • House E&C Subcommittee on Health: Hearing on 21st Century Cures

    On April 30, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on the 21st Century Cures discussion draft. Kathy L. Hudson, Ph.D., Deputy Director for Science, Outreach, and Policy, NIH, testified along with Janet Woodcock, M.D., Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Jeffrey E. Shuren, M.D., J.D., Director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, FDA. The hearing webcast and witness statements are available on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website.

Senate Innovation for Healthier Americans Initiative

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is examining "the time and cost currently involved with the drug and medical device discovery and development process, and how to better align public policies to support medical innovation." The effort is parallel to the House 21st Century Cures initiative.

  • Senate HELP Committee Hearing on NIH and FDA Innovation

    On March 10, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing entitled, "Continuing America’s Leadership in Medical Innovation for Patients." Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., NIH Director, and Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., FDA Commissioner, testified. A hearing webcast is posted on the Committee’s website, and Dr. Collins’ testimony is posted on the NIH website.

  • Senate HELP Committee Hearing on Biomedical Innovation

    On April 28, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing entitled, "Continuing America’s Leadership: The Future of Medical Innovation for Patients." Christopher P. Austin, M.D., Director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), and Roderic I. Pettigrew, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), testified with Janet Woodcock, M.D., Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, FDA and Jeffrey E. Shuren, M.D., J.D., Director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, FDA. The hearing webcast and witness statements are available on the Committee’s website.

  • Senate HELP Committee Hearing on Precision Medicine

    On May 5, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing entitled, "Continuing America’s Leadership: Realizing the Promise of Precision Medicine for Patients." Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., NIH Director, testified along with Jeffrey E. Shuren, M.D., J.D., Director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, FDA, and Karen B. DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., Director of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The hearing webcast and witness statements are available on the Committee’s website.

Congressional Briefing on Rare Bone Diseases

On March 18, at the request of the Rare Bone Disease Advocacy Alliance, Joan A. McGowan, Ph.D., Director of the Division of Musculoskeletal Diseases, NIAMS, discussed how rare bone disease research has expanded over the years at the NIH, highlighting scientific advances and future directions. A summary of the briefing is posted on the NIAMS website.

Senate Appropriations Clerks Visit NIH

On March 30, at the request of Laura Friedel, Majority Clerk, and Alex Kennan, Minority Clerk, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education, the NIH hosted a series of briefings with Institute and Center Directors. This was similar to a series of briefings that took place in June 2014. Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the NIAMS participated in the meetings.

Congressional Briefing on Sturge-Weber Research

On May 19, at the request of Karen Ball, President and CEO of the Sturge-Weber Foundation, Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the NIAMS, spoke about recent advancements and emerging opportunities in Sturge-Weber research. Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) attended and provided remarks.

Congressional Visit with the NIAMS

On June 15, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) visited the NIAMS with several constituents and representatives from the Arthritis Foundation to learn about juvenile arthritis research. The visit included a presentation by NIAMS Director, Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., and lab demonstrations in the NIAMS Intramural Research Program, as well as a visit to a Pediatric Clinical Research Unit of the NIH Clinical Center.

For More Information

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

Budget Update

FY 2015

The NIAMS website provides current and historical budget-related data and the NIAMS FY 2015 Funding Plan.

FY 2016

On March 3, 2015, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing on the FY 2016 NIH budget. NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., was the primary witness. He was accompanied by Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID); Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS); Nora D. Volkow, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); Thomas R. Insel, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH); and Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Dr. Collins’ testimony is posted on the NIH website.

On April 30, 2015, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing on the FY 2016 budget. NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., was accompanied by Douglas R. Lowy, M.D., Acting Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Thomas R. Insel, M.D., Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D., and Gary H. Gibbons, M.D. Dr. Collins’ testimony is posted on the NIH website.

NIAMS Faces . . .

Ms. Amita Patel is the new Chief of the NIAMS Administrative Management Branch in the Office of the Director and Extramural Program (OD/EP). Amita has more than 20 years of experience in administrative management at NIH, including seven years as Chief Administrative Officer for the OD/EP within the NIMH, Senior Administrative Officer for the Extramural Program at the NIMH, and Acting Branch Chief for the Intramural Administrative Services Branch at the NIMH. Amita holds an Associate’s Degree from Hammersmith in West London College in the United Kingdom.

After 11 years at the NIAMS, Erik Edgerton has taken a Supervisory Grants Management Officer position at the NCI. Mr. Edgerton served as a Senior Grants Management Specialist in the NIAMS EP.

NIH Faces . . .

Harold E. Varmus, M.D., Director of the NCI since 2010, stepped down from his post, effective March 31, 2015. Douglas R. Lowy, M.D., previously the NCI Deputy Director, became NCI’s Acting Director on April 1, 2015.

Sally J. Rockey, Ph.D., will be leaving her post as NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research to become the Director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, effective in September, 2015.

Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., has been selected as the Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). He has served as Acting Director of the NINDS since October, 2014.

Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D., was selected as the new Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Dr. Pérez-Stable is expected to join NIH in September.

NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., designated Betsy Humphreys as the Acting Director of the National Library of Medicine following the retirement of Donald Lindberg, M.D., on March 31.

Jack Whitescarver, Ph.D., who led the Office of AIDS Research (OAR) at NIH as Acting Associate Director and Acting Director since 2000, will step down from this post, effective July 1, 2015. Robert W. Eisinger, Ph.D., who has been serving as a Senior Health Science Policy Advisor in the NIH Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives, has accepted the position of Acting Associate Director for AIDS Research and Acting Director, OAR.

On February 23, 2015, Carrie Wolinetz, Ph.D., became the new Associate Director for Science Policy at NIH.

On May 4, Adrienne A. Hallett joined the NIH as the Associate Director for Legislative Policy and Analysis.

Kudos. . .

Thirty members of the NIAMS staff have been selected for special recognition at the annual NIH Director’s Award Ceremony to be held on Thursday, September 24, 2015. The honorees are:

Susan Bettendorf, Stephanie Burrows, Justine Buschman, Bob Carter, Barbara Footer, Nancy Garrick, Andy Jones, Stephanie Kreider, Colleen Labbe, Anita Linde, Kan Ma, Su-Yau Mao, Kathryn Marron, Melinda Nelson, Vivian Pham, Andree Reuss, Trish Reynolds, Kathy Salaita, Susana Serrate-Sztein, Allisen Stewart, and Yan Wang for exceptional collaborative efforts in support of the NIH Accelerating Medicines Partnership in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus;

Golnaz Vahedi in recognition of exceptional productivity and scientific contributions to genetic immunology research in the NIAMS IRP;

Anita Linde as part of the Office of the Director (OD) Group Award for the Leaders of the Accelerating Medicines Partnership;

Hung Tseng and Fei Wang as part of the NCATS Group Award for the NIH Microphysiological Systems (Tissue Chip) Program Project Team;

Carl Baker and Bill Sharrock as part of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) Group Award for the Genetic Association Information Network Data Access Committee;

Alice Fike and Lorena Wilson as part of the Clinical Center Group Award for the NIH Ebola Patient Care Response Team;

Carl Baker as part of the OD Group Award for the Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) Research Coordinating Committee.

Runsheng "Bridget" Wang, M.D., Clinical Fellow and NIAMS Scholar in the NIH Rheumatology Training Program, received a Scientist Development Award from the Rheumatology Research Foundation. Dr. Wang’s research interests include spondyloarthrosis with a focus on outcomes research and comparative effectiveness research.

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

NIAMS Communications Update…

Multicultural Outreach

The NIAMS has established a Language Access Plan as part of a comprehensive NIH strategy to help people with limited English proficiency access NIH programs and activities. The plan is a component of NIH’s overall diversity and inclusion efforts. The NIAMS has made strides in making its health information accessible to people from multicultural communities. The NIAMS continues to expand its growing suite of health information products that are available in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. The most recent additions to this multilingual collection include Bone Health for Life and Shoulder Problems Fast Facts, which were translated into three Asian languages.

Public Liaison

NIAMS Coalition Activities

The Institute 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 nearly 90 professional and voluntary organizations, raises awareness about research into the basic understanding, causes, incidence, treatment and prevention of diseases of the bones, joints, muscles, skin, and connective tissues.

Currently, the Institute is working with Coalition leadership to plan the biennial NIAMS Coalition Outreach and Education Day, which will take place on October 27, 2015. Confirmed speakers include Mary Woolley, President of Research!America; Kathy L. Hudson, Ph.D., NIH Deputy Director for Science, Outreach, and Policy; and Janine A. Clayton, M.D., Director of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health. In addition, as described in the Highlights from the Hill, DHHS, and NIH section, NIAMS leadership has worked with several Coalition members to brief Congressional staff on Capitol Hill, and hosted advocates from the Arthritis Foundation on June 15, 2015, for an NIH campus visit.

Social Media

On May 13, 2015, NIAMS hosted a Twitter chat on the topic of vasculitis. The chat focused on the various forms of vasculitis, symptoms and treatments, and current research. The audience also learned about how they can participate in NIH clinical studies. James P. Witter, M.D., Ph.D., and Peter C. Grayson, M.D., M.Sc., served as NIAMS subject matter experts, along with Peter A. Merkel, M.D., M.P.H., a principal investigator for the Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium, and Amanda K. Ombrello, M.D., from the NHGRI. An archive of the chat is available at https://storify.com/NIAMS/nihvasculitischat-555b64e4e826fb676c8354f9.

Media Highlights

NIAMS Director Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., discussed trends and future directions in rheumatology research with Spotlight on Research, a regional research newsletter from the Arthritis Foundation. The piece, "Interview with Dr. Stephen Katz External Web Site Policy," appeared in the Spring issue.

Peter C. Grayson, M.D., M.Sc., Clinical Fellow, Systemic Autoimmunity Branch, and head of the Vasculitis Translational Research Program, NIAMS IRP, spoke to MedPage Today about nasal gene profiling in vasculitis. The story, "The Nose Holds Clues in Vasculitis," was published in May.

Four NIAMS IRP researchers, Daphney Clermont External Web Site Policy, former Postbac Fellow, Pravitt R. Gourh, M.D. External Web Site Policy, Clinical Fellow, Peter C. Grayson, M.D., M.Sc. External Web Site Policy, Clinical Fellow, and Michael J. Ombrello, M.D. External Web Site Policy, Assistant Clinical Investigator, participated in a collaborative project between the NIH and LabTV called, “The Human Faces of Medical Research.” Their remarkable stories are available on the dedicated NIAMS YouTube channel External Web Site Policy.

The NIAMS IRP was the focus of the story, "NIAMS’ Intramural Research Programs Foster Spirit of Discovery External Web Site Policy," in the March issue of The Rheumatologist. The article, part of an ongoing series on programs of excellence, highlighted the IRP’s history, key accomplishments, and ongoing areas of investigation.

Upcoming Events

Look for the NIAMS exhibit at the following events between now and the September Council:

  • Organization of Chinese Americans Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, July 2-5
  • National Association of Hispanic Nurses Annual Conference, Anaheim, CA, July 7-10
  • National Black Nurses Association Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA, July 30 - August 1

NIAMS Career Development and Outreach Update…

Approximately 20 students from diverse backgrounds are participating in the 2015 NIAMS Summer Student Internship Program. The summer internship program provides a unique opportunity for talented students to come to the NIAMS for training and mentoring. This program encourages students to work in the field of biomedical research and, in particular, in the disease areas that NIAMS supports.

On March 3, the Career Development and Outreach Branch (CDOB) hosted a tour of the NIAMS labs for students from Trinity Washington University in Washington, D.C. CDOB staff organized presentations, laboratory tours, and demonstrations to inform the students about the ongoing basic and translational research conducted at the NIAMS.

On April 23, the CDOB welcomed 24 high school students to tour NIAMS labs as part of the annual "NIH Take Your Child to Work Day" event. Students listened to a brief overview of the NIH and NIAMS before heading to the lab to learn about genomic editing. The hands-on demonstration consisted of DNA isolation and modification using automated robotics. Students also had the opportunity to load samples, run agarose gels, and analyze their data.

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
Email: NIAMSinfo@mail.nih.gov
Website: https://www.niams.nih.gov

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 NIAMSinfo@mail.nih.gov.

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
Email: NIHBoneInfo@mail.nih.gov
Website: http://www.bones.nih.gov

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 NIAMSinfo@mail.nih.gov.

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
Email: niamsinfo@mail.nih.gov
Website: https://www.niams.nih.gov

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 NIAMSinfo@mail.nih.gov.

Compiled by the Office of Science Policy, Planning and Communications, NIAMS; phone: (301) 496-8190; e-mail: NIAMSInfo@mail.nih.gov