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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 . . .
Many of you know members of the NIAMS Intramural Research Program and the important contributions they make in basic, translational, and clinical research. Nevertheless, I am always pleased to focus attention on their accomplishments and their new directions. Working in collaborative teams, they interact with intramural scientists across the NIH Institutes and Centers—as well as extramural scientists—on a wide range of projects, including patient-oriented research on the genetic etiology, pathogenesis, and treatment of a variety of rheumatic, autoimmune, inflammatory, joint, skin, and muscle diseases. The Intramural Research Program’s translational and clinical research efforts are organized by the Office of the Clinical Director, and I’m pleased to announce the recent appointment of Richard Siegel, M.D., Ph.D., to lead this vitally important Office. Read more http://www.niams.nih.gov/News_and_Events/Announcements/2012/siegel_clinical_director.asp.
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 new study helps to confirm the role that inflammation plays in osteoarthritis and points to new targets for treatment, and perhaps prevention, of this common joint disease.
As earlier diagnosis and improved therapies have greatly increased the life expectancy associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), people with lupus now must face a longer-term problem: an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Scientists have described how a gene-silencing process called RNA interference (RNAi) restored normal cell-signaling in the cells of people with the bone disorder fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP). These findings, from cell culture experiments, are the first proof of principle that RNAi has potential as a therapy for FOP.
How often a woman should have bone mineral density (BMD) tests to track bone mass is strongly dependent on the BMD level found in her first measurement, according to new research supported by the NIAMS, the National Institute on Aging (NIA), and the former National Center for Research Resources (NCRR).
A new study shows that Kineret (anakinra), a medication approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, is effective in stopping the progression of organ damage in people with neonatal-onset multisystem inflammatory disease (NOMID).
A study by scientists from the NIAMS resolves longstanding questions about the origin of recurrent chromosomal rearrangements—known as translocations—that drive lymphomas and leukemias in humans.
Investigators within the intramural research program of the NIAMS have recently shed light on the roles of two proteins that are critical to cell development, and, in so doing, could alter the way scientists approach regenerative medicine, tissue engineering and the treatment of cancer.
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 Briefing: "Medical Imaging and Arthritis: A New Look at the Athlete in All of Us"
On May 17, 2012, at the request of the Coalition for Imaging and Bioengineering Research (CIBR), NIAMS Director, Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., participated in a congressional briefing entitled, "Medical Imaging and Arthritis: A New Look at the Athlete in All of Us" hosted by Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY). The panel discussion focused on osteoarthritis research and featured Renée Cruea, President of CIBR, Michael Recht, M.D., Professor at New York University, and L.C. Greenwood, a patient and former Pittsburgh Steelers player. The event was attended by congressional and NIAMS staff, as well as researchers, patients, and advocates from the NIAMS community.
Legislation: Government Oversight
On April 4, 2012, President Barack Obama signed into law P.L. 112-105, the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 (STOCK Act). The law prohibits Members of Congress, employees of Congress, and senior Federal employees from using nonpublic information derived from their official position for personal benefit. Among other provisions, the STOCK Act requires the Office of Government Ethics to develop a centralized database for storing all financial disclosure information that is searchable by the public.
The STOCK Act is the first of several pieces of legislation aimed at providing greater government oversight. Many others have been introduced including:
- Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA) of 2011 (H.R. 2146/S. 1222)
- Establish the Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency Commission to oversee all federal funding including grants, contracts, and loans. The bill would require federal agencies and recipients of federal grants and contracts to report all expenditures of federal funds at a minimum on a quarterly basis. It would also establish a government-wide, centralized database to track federal spending.
- H.R. 2146 was amended to include limitations and reporting requirements on conferences. Provisions include: agencies would be capped at $500,000 per conference; travel to international conferences would be limited to 50 employees per agency unless the Secretary of State determines that attendance by the employees is in the Nation’s best interest; until FY 2016, travel expenses to conferences would be limited to 80 percent of the aggregate amount of such expenses for FY 2010; and agencies would be required to post quarterly reports on conferences on the Internet.
- Last Major Action: Passed by the House (April 25, 2012); Introduced in the Senate (April 13, 2012)
- Taxpayers Right to Know Act (H.R. 3609)
- Require the head of each federal agency on an annual basis to: (1) identify and describe programs administered by the agency, (2) determine the total administrative expenses and expenditures for services for each program, (3) estimate the number of clients served by each program and the beneficiaries who received assistance under each program, (4) estimate the number of full-time federal and contract employees who administer each program, and (5) identify federal programs with duplicative or overlapping missions, services, and allowable uses of funds. The bill would also require agency heads to publish on the agency websites the information required by this Act, the latest performance reviews of each agency program, and the total amount of unspent and unobligated program funds held by the agency and grant recipients, among other provisions.
- Last Major Action: Reported by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (April 26, 2012)
- Government Spending Accountability Act (H.R. 4472)
- Cap travel reimbursements for FY 2013-2014 at 50 percent of the total amount paid by such agency for FY 2012, and for FY 2015 at 75 percent of the total amount paid by such agency for FY 2012. The bill would also require the head of each agency to submit a report to Congress stating the total travel expenses paid or reimbursed by the agency during the preceding fiscal year.
- Last Major Action: Introduced in the House (April 23, 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/.
The NIAMS website provides current and historical budget-related data and our latest funding plan. The NIAMS funding plan for fiscal year 2012 can be found at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/About_Us/Budget/funding_plan_fy2012.asp.
On February 13, President Obama released his FY 2013 budget request to Congress. The amount requested for NIH is $30.860 billion, which is level with the FY 2012 enacted level. The amount for NIAMS is $535.610 million, which represents an increase of $462,000 or 0.1 percent above FY 2012. The FY 2013 Congressional Justification (CJ) document is available on the NIAMS website at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/About_Us/Budget/2013cj_all.asp. In addition to budget tables, the CJ document includes narrative sections about the Institute's programs and how funds will be allocated.
On March 20, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Representative Dennis Rehberg [R-MT], Chairman) held a hearing on the FY 2013 budget. NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., was the primary witness. He was accompanied by Thomas R. Insel, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health and Acting Director, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Questions focused on NCATS-specific activities.
Dr. Collins’ testimony can be found at: http://www.nih.gov/about/director/budgetrequest/fy2013_testimony_house.pdf.
On March 28, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Senator Tom Harkin [D-IA], Chairman) held a hearing on the FY 2013 budget. NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., was accompanied by Harold E. Varmus, M.D., Director, National Cancer Institute; Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Griffin P. Rodgers M.D., Director, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; Thomas R. Insel, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health and Acting Director, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, and Richard J. Hodes, M.D., Director, National Institute on Aging. Questions for Dr. Collins included: NCATS, disease-specific research underway at the agency, and how the NIH collaborates with other federal agencies.
Dr. Collins’ testimony can be found at: http://www.nih.gov/about/director/budgetrequest/fy2013_collins_senate.pdf.
NIAMS Faces . . .
As mentioned, Richard Siegel, M.D., Ph.D., has been selected as the NIAMS Clinical Director. We look forward to Dr. Siegel’s leadership in this important position.
Anita M. Linde, M.P.P., has been appointed director of the newly organized Office of Science Policy, Planning and Communications (OSPPC). In March 2012, the Office of Science Policy and Planning (OSPP) and the Office of Communications and Public Liaison (OCPL) joined to become branches within the new office. As OSPPC director, Ms. Linde is responsible for overseeing the science policy, strategic planning, program evaluation, legislation, communications, and public liaison activities of the Institute. Ms. Linde had been the Director of OSPP since 2005, where she managed the science policy, strategic planning, program evaluation, legislative liaison, and speechwriting activities of the Institute. For the past year, she also served as the Acting Director of OCPL, overseeing the NIAMS’ press and social media activities, science writing, website, health information and education initiatives, and public outreach efforts. Ms. Linde, who came to the NIH as a Presidential Management Intern in 1994, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature and French from the University of Virginia, and a Master of Public Policy degree from Vanderbilt University.
The NIAMS welcomes La’Tanya Burton as the Institute’s new Chief Information Officer and Chief of the Scientific Information Technology Branch (SITB). Ms. Burton joined the NIAMS from the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service, Telecommunications Operations Center, where she served as the Branch Chief responsible for IT business coordination, acquisitions, and data and project management, including the transfer of large data sets between multiple Federal agencies and various countries. She previously worked for the NIH in the Office of the Director, supporting the Office of Research Services and the Office of Research Facilities from 1999 to 2010 as an IT Service Manager. Ms. Burton received a Master of General Administration with a concentration in Management Information Systems from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Shippensburg University.
Xincheng (Ted) Zheng, M.D., Ph.D., has joined the Scientific Review Branch in the NIAMS Extramural Program. Dr. Zheng joins us after seven years in the pharmaceutical industry where he managed many aspects of preclinical drug development. His research interests include drug discovery and therapeutic development for autoimmune diseases with emphasis on multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis; cancer immunotherapy, immune tolerance and anti-tumor immunity; vaccines for the inflammatory diseases; therapeutic development by targeting antigen specific T cells, regulatory T cells and natural killer T cells; and the molecular basis of T cell activation with emphasis on interaction of cell surface molecules between T cells and antigen presenting cells. Dr. Zheng earned his M.D. in 1994 from Henan Medical University in Zhengzhou, China, his Master of Medicine degree in Pathophysiology in 1997 from the College of Medicine in Beijing, China, and his Ph.D. in Pathology in 2005 from the College of Medicine at The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH.
After 10 years at the NIH, with seven of those years at the NIAMS, Karin L. Rudolph, M.A., has joined the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) as a Policy Analyst in the Public Health Liaison Branch in the Office of Policy. In her new role, Ms. Rudolph will focus on building and managing collaborations and relationships with government, private, and public stakeholders to advance the CTP mission, specifically related to implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
NIAMS Communications Update. . .
In preparation for a national distribution effort in 2013, the NIAMS National Multicultural Outreach Initiative is conducting a pilot study to test the effectiveness of culturally appropriate health planners and their distribution in multicultural communities. Working collaboratively with the Indian Health Service, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health and member organizations of the NIAMS Coalition, the NIAMS selected four community-based organizations to field test the distribution of a limited number of health planners among American Indians and Hispanics/Latinos. The purpose of the health planners is to raise awareness about the availability of NIAMS and other Federal resources to help patients with diseases and conditions of the bones, joints, muscles, and skin. The 12-month health planners contain research-based tips about self-care, prevention, and disease management, and recommended health information resources. The pilot study will conclude in July, and an analysis of results will be available in the fall.
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 new 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, 135 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 1,400 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. In March, the NIAMS hosted two separate tours of NIH and NIAMS intramural labs for more than 45 patients and family members of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the National Psoriasis Foundation. The visits provided an opportunity for the patients to learn more about the work being conducted at the NIAMS and the NIH, and how this research connects to their everyday lives.
NIAMS Coalition Teleconference
On May 2, 2012, the NIAMS hosted the Coalition Teleconference: Effective Strategies for Sharing the Value of Research, which brought together 30 NIAMS Coalition members representing 24 organizations. The discussion featured a panel of experts from across the NIH and focused on how various Institutes work with their voluntary and professional groups to spread the word about the importance of medical research in developing new diagnostic, treatment, and prevention approaches. Coalition Members had an opportunity to ask questions regarding activities at the NIAMS and the NIH. The teleconference is an important component of the Institute’s efforts to foster communication and engage the NIAMS Coalition and other stakeholders in the future directions of NIAMS-funded research.
NIAMS Scientific Director John J. O’Shea, M.D., Ph.D., recently appeared in an Arthritis Today story on the FDA Arthritis Advisory Committee hearing related to the new drug application of tofacitinib for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. A related article in Forbes magazine, "A Brief History of Tofacitinib," highlighted Dr. O’Shea’s scientific discoveries that ultimately led to the development of the compound.
Mahendra Rao, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the NIAMS Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and director of the NIH Center for Regenerative Medicine (NIH CRM), was featured in a recent installment of Inside E Street, a production of AARP and Public Television. In the segment, "The Future of Stem Cells," Dr. Rao addressed current advances in stem cell technology, as well as the role of the NIH CRM.
Raphaela Goldbach-Mansky, M.D., M.H.S., acting chief of the Translational Autoinflammatory Disease Section, appeared in a Reuters Health story that focused on her Arthritis & Rheumatism paper related to the benefits of long-term Kineret therapy in people with neonatal-onset multisystem inflammatory disease (NOMID).
Questions and Answers About Paget’s Disease of Bone
Look for the NIAMS exhibit at the following events between now and the September 2012 Shorttakes issue:
- American Physical Therapy Association Annual Conference, Tampa, FL, June 6-9, 2012
- American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Annual Conference, Orlando, FL, June 21-23, 2012
- Association of Women’s Health Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses Annual Conference, National Harbor, MD, June 23-27, 2012
- National Athletic Trainers Association Annual Conference, St. Louis, MO, June 26-29, 2012
- Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation Patient Conference, Crystal City, VA, July 13-15, 2012
- National Association of Hispanic Nurses Annual Conference, San Juan, PR, July 17-20, 2012
- National Black Nurses Association Annual Conference, Orlando, FL, July 25-29, 2012
NIAMS Career Development and Outreach Update. . .
As an extension of the NIH Office of Human Resources’ Trans-NIH Recruitment Forum, Mario E. Cerritelli, Ph.D., Chief, Career Development and Outreach Branch (CDOB), is chairing the newly formed Trans-NIH Scientific and Medical Recruitment Forum. This forum is developing a recruitment plan to build a more diverse scientific community at the NIH. A major accomplishment this past year was the development of a "One-NIH" corporate approach for exhibiting at minority recruitment conferences. This new format will send a clearer message about the NIH to outside scientists, enabling them to better understand the structure and mission of the NIH.
Approximately 20 students from diverse backgrounds will participate in the 2012 NIAMS Summer 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.
This summer, the NIAMS is hosting a returning 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 will be working with the Translational Immunology Section in the Office of Science and Technology.
On February 15, CDOB again hosted a group of students and faculty from our adopt-a-school—the SEED School of Washington, DC. Highlights of the agenda were: a tour of NIAMS labs and a meeting with the Scientific Director, Dr. John O’Shea; a presentation on the immune system by the NIAMS Acting Clinical Director, Dr. Richard Siegel; a DNA laboratory experiment; a motivational career discussion with Dr. David Michel, a NIAMS rheumatology fellow; and an overview of the Undergraduate Scholarship Program (UGSP). We received very positive feedback from the school on this event. As part of our partnership with the SEED School, we again were able to select a student for this year’s summer internship program.
On April 13, CDOB participated in the annual Wheaton High School Biosciences Academy Career Fair in Wheaton, MD. This event inspires the students to stay focused on their studies while encouraging them to pursue internships and summer programs in health science by introducing them to biomedical science careers.
Dr. Cerritelli continues to lead the NIH Community College Summer Enrichment Program (CCSEP), now in its third year. The goal of CCSEP 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 community college students will participate in the program this summer.
The NIAMS continues its leadership role in the NIH Warrior Transition Program, working with service members on training plans and placements at the NIH. CDOB staff members participated in several events at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, designed to provide wounded service members with the opportunity to transition back into the civilian workforce.
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