Frequently Asked Questions

Updated April 21, 2014

What is the mission of the NIAMS?
Is the NIAMS a part of the Federal Government?
Where does the NIAMS conduct medical research?
May I come to the NIAMS to be examined, diagnosed, or treated?
How do I find out about clinical trials at the NIAMS or funded by the NIAMS?
Can the NIAMS give me medical advice by phone or e-mail?
How do I find out about the results of the latest research on a topic?
How is the NIAMS funded?
How does the NIAMS spend the funds it receives?
How does the NIAMS set its research priorities?
How much money did the NIAMS spend on research over the past few years?
Does the NIAMS accept donations?
Upon my death, can I donate my body to the NIAMS for medical research?
Does the NIAMS help people pay their medical bills?
Does the NIAMS keep and report health statistics?
I can't find information on my topic on the NIAMS website. Where do I go next?
Where can I find more advanced information on a topic than the NIAMS provides?
I need to find a doctor or clinic. Does the NIAMS recommend doctors?
I have an idea about the cause or treatment of a disease. Can I get the NIAMS to research my idea?
Can I add a link to the NIAMS site from my website?
Will the NIAMS add a link to my website?
I'd like to use some text and an illustration from one of the NIAMS' publications. Do I need to get permission first?
I'm applying for disability. Can the NIAMS help me?
How do I order publications from the NIAMS?
May I have extra copies of a publication for a health fair or to hand out to my patients?
What is the NIAMS Coalition?

What is the mission of the NIAMS?

See our Mission.

Is the NIAMS a part of the Federal Government?

Yes, the NIAMS is one component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The NIAMS researches diseases of the bones, joints, muscles, and skin. Visit the NIH's Institutes, Centers and Offices web page to learn about other components of the NIH. Visit the Department's web page to find out about other HHS agencies and offices.

Where does the NIAMS conduct medical research?

The NIAMS sponsors medical research throughout the United States and in some foreign countries by funding the work of academic and institutional scientists. The NIAMS Extramural Program oversees this funded research. You can learn more about NIAMS-sponsored research at the Funded Research page of the NIAMS website.

Staff scientists of the NIAMS Intramural Research Program conduct research at laboratories and clinics on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, as well as at several nearby satellite locations. You can learn more about their work by visiting the program's web page.

May I come to the NIAMS to be examined, diagnosed, or treated?

Only people who are enrolled in a medical research study at the NIH receive medical care from the NIAMS. Usually, people who want to become involved in a study have already been diagnosed. Many of the studies at the NIH are clinical trials. These trials often are designed to look at very specific aspects of a disease or treatment, and researchers are looking for people who fit specific criteria. Each clinical trial has a set of defined eligibility criteria.

For general information about clinical trials, see the page "Are Clinical Studies for You?"

See also the "Studies Seeking Patients" page of the NIAMS website to find out if there are any clinical trials that might be right for you.

How do I find out about clinical trials at the NIAMS or funded by the NIAMS?

Visit the Clinical Trials.gov web page. At this website you can search for clinical trials, learn where they are taking place, read about their eligibility criteria, and find out how to contact the researchers. Many trials are taking place throughout the country.

You can also find NIAMS studies or NIAMS-sponsored studies by visiting the "Studies Seeking Patients" page of the NIAMS website.

To find out about studies taking place on the NIH campus, call the NIH Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison Office at 800-411-1222 (TTY 866-411-1010).

Can the NIAMS give me medical advice by phone or e-mail?

The information specialists at the NIAMS are trained to help requestors locate NIH materials and other reputable sources of medical information. They are not health care professionals, and they cannot refer you to health care providers at the NIH or elsewhere. The NIH doctors provide medical care only for people who are enrolled in NIH clinical trials.

The health information that the NIAMS provides cannot substitute for medical expertise and advice. We encourage you to discuss the information you find on this website and in the NIAMS publications with your health care provider.

If you would like to be seen at the NIH Clinical Center, please call 800-411-1222 (TTY 866-411-1010) to see if you are eligible to participate in a study at the NIH.

How do I find out about the results of the latest research on a topic?

Our publications on various diseases and health topics include information about relevant NIAMS-sponsored research. These publications are written for the public, and they are updated every few years.

In addition to the NIAMS, if you want to read about the very latest research results at research institutions around the world, the best place to visit is the National Library of Medicine's PubMed website. This site provides a searchable database of abstracts that summarize articles in peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals. When the NIAMS scientists or NIAMS-sponsored researchers make a scientific advance, they usually submit an article to a scientific journal. If the article is accepted and published, the entire research community, as well as the interested public, can read about their accomplishments. Most such articles are listed in the PubMed database.

Sometimes the NIAMS will issue a press release or post a story on the NIAMS website that summarizes the findings of important NIAMS-sponsored research. You can view these stories on the "News and Events" page of the NIAMS website.

How is the NIAMS funded?

The NIAMS receives taxpayer funding from Congressional appropriations. Each year, the NIAMS submits written testimony to the Congressional appropriations subcommittee about the research projects that the Institute has undertaken with past funding and the research it intends to pursue with future funds. Visit the NIAMS website to read the Congressional Justifications that the NIAMS has submitted to the appropriations subcommittees in previous years.

How does the NIAMS spend the funds it receives?

The NIAMS divides the funds it receives among many areas. Visit the NIAMS website to view budget charts with detailed information.

In general, the majority of funds go toward research and training projects around the country through grants and contracts to academic and other research institutions. The staff of the NIAMS Extramural Program administers these grants and contracts. To receive funding for a project, a scientist must first submit an application to the NIH. A panel of expert scientists, called the initial review group, reviews these applications. Another panel of experts, the NIAMS Advisory Council, then evaluates summaries of the panel's reviews. If an application is found to have scientific merit, the NIAMS may fund it. For more information, visit the NIAMS "Funding" web page. .

Some funding goes to research projects conducted by the staff of the NIAMS Intramural Research Program (IRP). The IRP's basic science studies are usually conducted at NIAMS laboratories on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The IRP's clinical studies (studies that involve patients) are often conducted at the NIH Clinical Center, also in Bethesda, Maryland. Others are conducted at the NIAMS Community Health Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. The NIAMS medical staff only treat people who are involved in an NIH clinical trial. To learn more about the IRP program, visit the program's website.

A portion of the budget is also dedicated to information dissemination. In addition to research and training, sharing information on its research progress with the public is an important component of the NIAMS mission. NIAMS-produced health and research information can be found on the NIAMS website or ordered from the NIAMS Information Clearinghouse at 877-22-NIAMS (226-4267) (TTY 301-565-2966) or by e-mail at NIAMSinfo@mail.nih.gov. Please include your mailing address and, if possible, a telephone number in your e-mail message.

The NIAMS budget also includes salaries and other administrative costs.

How does the NIAMS set its research priorities?

The NIAMS considers many different perspectives, including the opinions of experts in the field as well as public input, in establishing its research priorities. A competitive peer-review system then identifies the most promising and highest quality research to address these priorities. These evaluations are used by the NIAMS Director and staff to determine which projects to fund.

How much money did the NIAMS spend on research over the past few years?

Visit the NIAMS Budget web page to view tables that show how the NIAMS funding was spent in a given year.

Does the NIAMS accept donations?

Yes, the NIAMS does accept donations. For more information, visit the "Donations to the Gift Fund" page of the NIAMS website.

Many voluntary and professional health organizations also accept donations for research or other purposes. If you are interested in learning more about organizations that are specifically concerned with NIAMS programs, visit the NIAMS Coalition information page on the NIAMS website. The National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus Web page also provides a listing of health organizations, including professional, voluntary, and government organizations. Most research universities, medical schools, and hospitals also accept donations.

The NIAMS does not endorse any organization. You should closely review an organization's mission and funding plans before you donate your money.

Upon my death, can I donate my body to the NIAMS for medical research?

If you would like to donate your body for medical research upon your death, you should talk to your doctor. There is a very small window of opportunity for optimal results from donation. Therefore, a medical school close to where a person dies is often the institution most likely to benefit from the donation.

Organ and tissue donation is different from donating your body for research purposes. If you are interested in becoming an organ and tissue donor, you can find information at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Organ Donor website.

Does the NIAMS help people pay their medical bills?

The NIAMS funding is allotted by Congress for medical research, not for medical expenses or insurance. If you need help paying your medical bills, consider contacting the following Government sources:

  • Medicare Hotline: Call 800-633-4227 or TTY 800-820-1202.
  • Medicaid: Visit the Medicaid Web page.
  • The Hill-Burton Assistance Program: This Federal Government program provides health care to those with little or no income. For more information or to find a hospital that provides care under this program, vist the Hill-Burton Free and Reduced-Cost Health Care webpage.
  • The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): Visit the HRSA Web site or call 888-ASK-HRSA (275-4772).
  • The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Every state in the nation has a health insurance program for infants, children, and teens. To learn more, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' CHIP Web site.
  • State Health Departments: Some state health departments have information on financial assistance for medical bills. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a Web page that lists the U.S. state health departments.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): The HHS Web site offers information on financial assistance for families and children under the heading "Financial Assistance."

Some drug companies also have programs to help people who can't afford medicines or medical supplies. These companies usually work through doctors, who apply for aid on behalf of their patients. If you are interested, call the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association's Partnership for Prescription Assistance at 800-4PPA-NOW (477-2669) or visit the partnership's Web site (http://www.pparx.org/).

Does the NIAMS keep and report health statistics?

Another Federal Government agency, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), is the Nation's principal health statistics agency. The NCHS is a component of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit the NCHS website for more information.

I can't find information on my topic on the NIAMS website. Where do I go next?

Please contact the NIAMS Information Clearinghouse at 877-22-NIAMS (226-4267) (TTY 301-565-2966) or by e-mail at NIAMSinfo@mail.nih.gov. Please include your mailing address and, if possible, a telephone number in your e-mail message.

Another NIH Institute might have information on your topic. The NIH has 27 Institutes and Centers, and each one has a variety of responsibilities. Sometimes several institutes support different aspects of research on the same disease. To find out which institute to contact about your topic, visit the NIH Health Information page.

The NIH maintains a list of information phone lines on various topics on its website. The National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus site is another good source of health information.

Consider that another Government agency may have the answer to your question. Consult the table below:

If you would like the latest information on: Contact:
Drugs or medical devices Food and Drug Administration
Vaccines, immunizations, and statistics Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Research on the quality of health care and clinical practice guidelines Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Medicare and Medicaid Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Access to health care Health Resources and Services Administration


Where can I find more advanced information on a topic than the NIAMS provides?

The NIAMS publications are usually written at a high-school grade level. We also have some easy-to-read materials. If you are looking for more advanced medical or scientific literature, visit the NIH's National Library of Medicine's PubMed database for summaries of research articles.

You might also consider visiting a nearby medical university's library to read textbooks on your subject of interest. Visit the National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus website to find a library near you.

You may also ask an information specialist at the NIAMS. A NIAMS information specialist might be able to direct you to other, more advanced sources of information. Contact the NIAMS Information Clearinghouse by calling 877-22-NIAMS (226-4267) or e-mailing NIAMSinfo@mail.nih.gov. Please include your mailing address and, if possible, a telephone number in your e-mail message.

I need to find a doctor or clinic. Does the NIAMS recommend doctors?

The NIAMS cannot recommend doctors or medical facilities. However, if you need to find a doctor or specialist, the NIAMS Information Clearinghouse often can refer you to a professional organization that will help you locate doctors close to you. Call the Clearinghouse at 877-22-NIAMS (226-4267) or e-mail NIAMSinfo@mail.nih.gov. Please include your mailing address and, if possible, a telephone number in your e-mail message. Also, voluntary health organizations might be able to help you find patient support groups in your area. To learn more about some of these organizations, visit the "NIAMS Coalition" page on the NIAMS website.

The National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus Web site provides a listing of organizations with online resources to help you locate a doctor or hospital.

I have an idea about the cause or treatment of a disease. Can I get the NIAMS to research my idea?

The best way to promote research on your idea is to interest a medical researcher in your project. Medical researchers across the United States submit applications to the NIH to seek funding for their projects. If the application is found to have scientific merit after it is reviewed, it may be funded.

To find scientists researching a topic or disease, visit the NIH Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization (RCDC) or NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool — Expenditures and Results (RePORTER) database or the Clinicaltrials.gov database.

Can I add a link to the NIAMS site from my website?

Yes, please feel free to link to the NIAMS website.

Will the NIAMS add a link to my website?

The NIAMS policy is to link only to other Government agencies. We make exceptions in very rare instances.

I'd like to use some text and an illustration from one of the NIAMS' publications. Do I need to get permission first?

The text on the NIAMS website is in the public domain. You don't need permission to photocopy, reprint, or otherwise reproduce the text. The NIAMS appreciates credit if you use the NIAMS text. If you alter or change the NIAMS text, though, please don't cite the NIAMS as the source; such material is no longer consistent with the NIAMS-approved original.

Many of the photographs appearing on this website have been purchased from other sources and are copyrighted. The NIAMS can't grant anyone permission to reproduce them. Please contact us (NIAMSInfo@mail.nih.gov) to find out if the illustration or photograph you would like to reproduce is in the public domain.

The NIAMS maintains an online image database from which you can download NIAMS images. All items appearing in the image database are in the public domain. You may reproduce them as you wish. The NIAMS appreciates it if you credit the NIAMS as the source of the illustration or photograph.

I'm applying for disability. Can the NIAMS help me?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the Government agency that makes determinations about eligibility for Federal disability benefits. Visit the "Disability Programs" page of the SSA website for more information.

How do I order publications from the NIAMS?

The best way to order a NIAMS publication is to visit the online shopping cart on the NIAMS website. There is no charge for these publications. The NIAMS limits the number of titles and copies you can order online, however, so if you need more than what you are permitted to order through the shopping cart tool, please call the NIAMS Information Clearinghouse toll-free at 877-226-4267 (TTY 301-565-2966).

May I have extra copies of a publication for a health fair or to hand out to my patients?

You can request a bulk order by calling the NIAMS Information Clearinghouse toll free at 877-226-4267 (TTY 301-565-2966). Sometimes the NIAMS still must limit the quantity that can be sent out at a given time. Considerations such as low stock can affect fulfillment.

What is the NIAMS Coalition?

The NIAMS Coalition is a consortium of nearly 90 professional and voluntary organizations that are national in scope. These organizations raise awareness about NIAMS research into the basic understanding, causes, incidence, treatment, and prevention of diseases of the bones, joints, muscles, and skin.