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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 . . .
A critical part of the NIH mission is to keep key stakeholders abreast of the scientific advances, opportunities, and challenges that exist in biomedical and behavioral research. It is clear that the discoveries that emerge from NIH-supported laboratories affect the lives of patients and their families, as well as the careers of researchers and clinicians. Ultimately, however, our work belongs to all Americans, which is why it is essential that policymakers, including members of Congress, are aware of the progress and promise of NIH investments across the country.
The NIH has an important role in educating policymakers so they are informed of agency priorities and programs. In addition to the resources provided on the NIH and NIAMS’ websites, the Institute regularly participates in many activities that are designed to highlight the work that we are doing to our colleagues on Capitol Hill, including:
- Statements to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees
- Annual Budget Justification
- Congressionally mandated reports, including the NIH Biennial Report
- Responses to Member inquiries
Similar to events coordinated by the NIH and its partner organizations, the NIAMS helps to develop activities that provide policymakers with opportunities to learn about the innovative science that is conducted by NIAMS-funded investigators. In October 2012, the Institute partnered with the NIAMS Coalition to host a half-day event for Congressional staffers, providing them a chance to meet with NIAMS leadership and tour our on-campus laboratories. Eight senior-level staffers, many of whom were visiting the NIH campus for the first time, saw how our investments in basic research are resulting in new treatments and improving the lives of patients.
The Institute also embraces opportunities to visit Capitol Hill to speak with members of Congress and their staff. In just the last year, at the invitation of several patient and professional organizations, I have participated in Member meetings and public briefings where research discoveries in skin disease, lupus, and osteoarthritis have been discussed.
Finally, because we understand that Members of Congress primarily learn about the NIH’s activities from communities outside of government, NIAMS places a high priority on ensuring that all of our stakeholders have a sound understanding of the Institute and its programs. The collaborative interactions between members of the NIAMS Coalition and Institute staff that were outlined in my June 2012 Director’s letter all contribute to the building of a well-informed community of patients, researchers, and clinicians.
Former Senator Arlen Specter called the NIH the "crown jewel of the federal government." Like the late Senator, we are proud of the work that is supported by the NIAMS and welcome the opportunity to share it with the American people and their representatives.
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 study in mice suggests that lack of a certain protein may trigger atopic dermatitis, the most common type of eczema.
Scientists from the NIAMS and the University of Oxford, U.K., have shed light on a long-standing enigma about the structure of a protein related to the Hepatitis B virus.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new oral medication for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that represents a new class of drugs for the disease. The drug, tofacitinib (Xeljanz), targets an NIH-discovered protein.
Scientists at the NIAMS have demonstrated that DNA previously thought to be "junk" plays a critical role in immune system response.
Scientists may have discovered why a protein called MYC can provoke a variety of cancers.
As part of ongoing efforts to move promising laboratory discoveries into clinical practice, the NIAMS has funded two new Centers of Research Translation (CORTs), and continued its support for two existing Centers. Each CORT addresses one disease within the NIAMS mission with a multidisciplinary approach.
A dramatic upsurge in the number of total knee replacement (TKR) surgeries in the U.S. is attributable to more than increases in obesity and population size alone.
Researchers have built a strong case that male pattern baldness—the most common cause of hair loss in men—results from elevated amounts of a lipid called prostaglandin D2.
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 NIAMS website now provides information about NIAMS-funded research at various institutions receiving P30, P50, and P60 Center grants. Each entry lists basic information such as institution, principal investigator and project dates, then links directly to the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT) for additional details about the projects and subprojects involved in each grant.
Highlights From the Hill, DHHS and NIH . . .
New Congressional Leadership
As a result of the November 2012 elections, the Democrats have strengthened their majority in the Senate, while the Republicans have a reduced majority in the House of Representatives. As of February 4, 2013, the leadership of the Senate Committees and Subcommittees of particular interest to the NIH are as follows:
- Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies
- Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman
- Ranking Minority Member TBD
- Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP)
- Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman
- Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Ranking Minority Member
The leadership of the House Committees and Subcommittees of particular interest to the NIH are as follows:
- House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies
- Jack Kingston (R-GA), Chairman
- Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ranking Minority Member
- House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health
- Joe Pitts (R-PA), Chairman
- Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Ranking Minority Member
Mikulski Replaces Inouye as Top Senate Appropriator
Longtime appropriator Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) passed away on December 17, 2012. Since 2009, Inouye was the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he was a supporter of biomedical research funding. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), a strong advocate for the work of the NIH, replaces Inouye as the first woman to head the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Stem Cell Research Policy
On January 7, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling regarding federal funding of research involving embryonic stem cells. This decision allows the ruling to stand, and enables the NIH to continue conducting and funding stem cell research, following the guidelines put in place in 2009. More information can be found on the NIH Stem Cell Information website.
For More Information
For other related legislative highlights, please refer to the NIH Office of Legislative and Policy Analysis website.
In FY 2012, the NIAMS funded 234 new and competing continuation applications for a success rate of 15.6 percent—a figure higher than last year’s rate of 14.9 percent. The overall NIH success rate is estimated to be 17.6 percent. Additional details about the distribution of the FY 2012 appropriation are provided on the NIAMS website.
On September 28, 2012, President Barack Obama signed into law the Continuing Appropriations Act (Public Law 112-175, HJRes117), the FY 2013 continuing resolution (CR) to fund most of the government until March 27, 2013.
An interim funding plan for NIAMS research and training grants has been developed for operations and is available on the NIAMS website.
Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act on January 1, 2013, averting the immediate threat of an 8.2 percent cut in NIH spending for FY 2013. The Congress and the White House continue to work towards a balanced approach to addressing long-term spending issues and the budget deficit. The NIH and NIAMS are committed to ensuring that we spread the available dollars as much as possible, in support of excellent science. We will continue to operate cautiously, pursuant to the law as well as general and NIH-specific policies for operating under a Continuing Resolution, until final FY 2013 funding is determined.
The President is expected to release his FY 2014 budget proposal in early spring.
NIAMS Faces . . .
NIAMS welcomes four new ad hoc Advisory Council members:
Sherine E. Gabriel, M.D., is dean of the Mayo Medical School, the William J. and Charles H. Mayo Professor, and a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Dr. Gabriel’s research program integrates clinical rheumatology training with epidemiology and health services research, contributing to the understanding of the risks, determinants, and outcomes of the rheumatic diseases. More recently, her research has focused on elucidating the risks and determinants of heart disease in people who have rheumatoid arthritis.
Martha M. Murray, M.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Harvard Medical School, and an orthopaedic surgeon at the Boston Children’s Hospital and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Her research focuses on the stimulation of tissue healing inside the joints, particularly the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the meniscus of the knee. She is currently studying the effects of a scaffold designed to deliver growth factors on tissue regeneration and healing after ACL rupture.
Edward A. Rankin, M.D., is chief of Orthopaedic Services at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C., a clinical professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Howard University College of Medicine, and a clinical associate professor at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is also an orthopaedic surgeon in private practice in Washington, D.C., and has served as visiting professor and consultant for several overseas organizations.
Elizabeth J. Shane, M.D., is a professor of Medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, in New York, vice chair of Medicine for Clinical and Epidemiological Research at Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, and an attending physician at Columbia University Medical Center. Her research interests include osteoporosis in premenopausal women, bone disease associated with HIV infection, osteoporosis associated with organ transplantation, and other secondary forms of osteoporosis.
After 38 years at the NIH, with 26 of those years at the NIAMS, Juan Rivera, M.Sc. Ph.D., Deputy Scientific Director for the NIAMS Intramural Research Program (IRP), and former Chief of the Molecular Immunology Section, has retired. He leaves the Institute with a legacy of many accomplishments and awards, among them leading the NIH Signal Transduction Group since its inception in 1993; training more than 25 postdoctoral and predoctoral fellows, all of whom continue to work in medical or biomedical fields; an NIH Merit Award in 2002; and the NIH Director’s Award in 2005.
Vittorio Sartorelli, M.D., has accepted the position of NIAMS Deputy Scientific Director. Dr. Sartorelli is Chief of the Laboratory of Muscle Stem Cells and Gene Regulation in the NIAMS IRP. He joined NIH in 1999 to lead the Muscle Gene Expression Group within the Laboratory of Muscle Biology of the NIAMS IRP. Dr. Sartorelli obtained his degree in Medicine from the University of Brescia, Italy, and received postdoctoral training at Stanford University in the Genetics Department and the Department of Medicine.
In October 2012, Valerie Green, M.B.A., was appointed Chief Administrative Officer for the NIAMS Intramural Research Program. Ms. Green served as Chief of the Administrative Management Branch for the NIAMS Office of the Director and the Extramural Program since November 1996. Prior to coming to the NIAMS, Ms. Green was an Intramural Research Program Administrative Officer with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. She is a 2006 graduate of the Senior Executive Fellows Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Dave Zielinski, Ph.D., has joined the NIAMS Office of Science Policy, Planning and Communications (OSPPC) as Chief of the Science Policy and Planning Branch (SPPB). Dr. Zielinski will manage OSPPC’s strategic planning, program evaluation, and legislative liaison activities, and serve as a senior advisor for a wide range of cross-cutting projects and special initiatives. He comes to the NIAMS from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) OSPPC, where he most recently served as NIMH’s Acting Communications Director. Prior to this, he was a Health Science Policy Analyst in OSPPC’s Science Policy and Evaluation Branch (SPEB), where he also served as Acting Branch Chief for a period of time. Prior to joining NIMH, Dr. Zielinski was a research scientist on the faculty of Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. He received his Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Cornell University.
Colleen Labbe, M.S., has joined the NIAMS Office of Science Policy, Planning and Communications (OSPPC) as a Writer-Editor/Public Liaison. Ms. Labbe will serve as a senior science writer-editor and be integrally involved in the Institute’s public outreach and social media efforts. She comes to the NIAMS from the NIMH OSPPC, where, for the last six years, she has served as a senior science writer and press officer in the Science Writing, Press and Dissemination Branch. Prior to coming to the NIH, she worked at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Ocean Service (NOS), as a science writer-editor, communications specialist, and Webmaster. Ms. Labbe’s Bachelor of Arts degree is from The Ohio State University, as is her Master of Science degree in Natural Resources with an emphasis in Communications.
After six years at the NIAMS, Louise Rosenbaum, Ph.D., Science Policy Analyst in the Office of Science Policy, Planning and Communications, accepted a new position as a Science Policy Analyst/Science Writer in the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) Science Implementation Branch, part of the NINR Office of Science Policy and Legislation.
Sharon Fair, Administrative Assistant to the Director, Division of Extramural Research Activities, has retired after 12 years of dedicated service to the NIH. Sharon spent the last six years with the NIAMS, where she excelled in managing the tri-annual meetings of the National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Advisory Council. Ms. Fair’s contributions to the Council process and the NIAMS mission were recognized by Institute leadership and staff on numerous occasions.
Elizabeth Bouras, has joined the NIAMS Division of Extramural Research Activities (DERA) as Council Support Specialist. Ms. Bouras comes to the NIAMS from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), where she worked in several business areas within DERA, including grants management and scientific review. Most recently, she has been involved in Council support and meeting logistics in the Office of the NIGMS Director.
NIH Faces . . .
On December 1, 2012, Richard K. Nakamura, Ph.D., was appointed Director of the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR). Dr. Nakamura had been serving as the CSR Acting Director since September 18, 2011. Prior to his tenure at the CSR, he was the Scientific Director, the Deputy Director, and an Acting Director at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Read more.
On September 14, 2012, Christopher P. Austin, M.D., was named Director of the NIH’s newest center, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Dr. Austin had been serving as director of NCATS Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation since the NCATS launch in December 2011. A developmental neurogeneticist by training, Dr. Austin came to the NIH in 2002 from Merck, where his work focused on genome-based discovery of novel targets and drugs. Read more.
On January 13, 2013, Franziska B. Grieder, D.V.M., Ph.D., was named Director of the NIH Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP). Dr. Grieder had been serving as ORIP Acting Director since July 2012. Prior to her tenure as Acting Director, she was the Director of the Division of Comparative Medicine for eight years at the former NIH National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). Read more.
On September 4, 2012, Janine Austin Clayton, M.D., was appointed as Director of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) and Associate Director for Research on Women’s Health. Dr. Clayton had been serving as the ORWH Acting Director since August 2011. Prior to joining ORWH, Dr. Clayton was the Deputy Clinical Director of the National Eye Institute, NIH. Read more.
David M. Murray, Ph.D., joined the NIH as Associate Director for Prevention and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention on September 23, 2012. Dr. Murray came to the NIH from The Ohio State University, where he was chair and professor of the Division of Epidemiology, College of Public Health. Read more.
John J. O’Shea, M.D., Scientific Director of the NIAMS, was recently named a Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as a Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. Dr. O’Shea was cited for distinguished contributions to the field of immunology, particularly for the discovery of the Jak3 kinase and its importance in human disease.
NIAMS Communications Update. . .
In January, the NIAMS began nationwide distribution of four tailored health planners for multicultural populations as part of its National Multicultural Outreach Initiative. The purpose of the health planners is to increase awareness among adults with conditions of the bones, joints, muscles, and skin about the availability of resources from the NIH and other Federal agencies. The health planners were developed with significant community input and pilot tested in four communities last spring. The NIAMS also developed and launched an electronic toolkit to assist organizations with promoting the health planners and available resources for multicultural communities. The NIAMS will monitor its progress to evaluate the success of the national distribution effort.
The NIAMS has developed a mobile version of its website at m.niams.nih.gov, designed to provide optimal viewing and easy navigation of health information across a wide range of mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets. In its first foray into delivering content using responsive design, the NIAMS is showcasing its health information, the pages most-visited by web users. Now users can more easily view the NIAMS content on diseases of the bones, joints, muscles and skin with minimal resizing and scrolling. Read more.
In March 2012, the Institute launched the NIAMS Facebook Page, reaching over 800 people weekly with updates on science-based information about bone, joint, muscle, and skin health. NIAMS Twitter, launched in January 2011, has grown to over 2,500 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. The NIAMS continues to send news of the Institute and NIH by email to those who subscribe to the monthly NIAMS Update, and the quarterly NIAMS Multicultural Outreach News.
On November 1, NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., launched the NIH Director’s Blog. "I’m starting this blog to highlight new discoveries in biology and medicine that I think are game changers, noteworthy or just plain cool," he wrote in a welcome message. On January 14, Dr. Collins’ blog discussed the new rheumatoid arthritis medication, tofacitinib, and the research behind it.
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 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.
In 2012, the Institute engaged in several activities with the Coalition, including presenting at professional and voluntary meetings and providing opportunities to meet with Dr. Katz and other Institute leadership. The NIAMS also collaborated with the Coalition to host teleconferences and NIH campus visits for organization volunteers, family members, and congressional staffers.
On October 18, 2012, at the request of the NIAMS Coalition, eight congressional staff members from House and Senate offices, as well as the NIH’s authorizing committees, toured NIAMS laboratories. They met with Institute leadership including Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., and Robert H. Carter, M.D. While visiting the laboratories of John J. O’Shea, M.D., Richard Siegel, M.D., Ph.D., Raphaela T. Goldbach-Mansky, M.D., M.H.S., and Massimo G. Gadina, Ph.D., the staffers learned about how new technologies are enabling collaborative teams to translate basic findings into treatments for individuals affected with diseases of the bones, joints, muscles, and skin. The group also visited the NIH Clinical Research Center’s Movement Analysis Laboratory to see how scientists and engineers quantitatively obtain and analyze biomechanical patient data.
NIAMS Scientific Director John O’Shea, M.D., was interviewed for the University of Alabama’s research news blog, The Mix. The podcast (http://themixuab.blogspot.com/2012/11/immunogenomics-more-powerful-more-its.html)is titled "Immunogenomics: more powerful the more it’s used."
NIAMS grantee Linda Sandell, Ph.D., of Washington University in St. Louis, is featured in the Winter issue of the magazine NIH MedlinePlus. Dr. Sandell describes her research related to the genetic underpinnings of cartilage repair and osteoarthritis in mice.
Mahendra Rao, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the NIH Center for Regenerative Medicine (NIH-CRM) in the NIH Intramural Research Program and Chief of the NIAMS Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology, appeared in a recent issue of Managed Healthcare Executive. The story, "Stem cells: The not too distant future," focused on the potential clinical applications of stem cell therapy.
A recent issue of NIH Research Matters highlighted a paper from NIAMS grantee Arup Indra, Ph.D., of Oregon State University in the story, "Protein Linked to Atopic Dermatitis."
Look for the NIAMS exhibit at the following events between now and the June 2013 Shorttakes issue:
- American Academy of Dermatology Annual Conference, Miami, FL, March 1-5
- American Society on Aging Annual Conference, Chicago, IL, March 12-16
- NBC4 Health and Fitness Expo, Washington, DC, March 16-17
- American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons Annual Conference, Chicago, IL, March 19-23
- Dermatology Nurses Association Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA, April 4-7
- American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Annual Conference, Baltimore, MD, April 24-27
- American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference, San Diego, CA, April 25-28
- American Academy of Physician Assistants Annual Conference, Washington, DC, May 25-29
NIAMS Career Development and Outreach Update. . .
To promote diversity in biomedical research careers and to increase awareness of our internship programs and research in the NIAMS health and disease areas, Career Development and Outreach Branch (CDOB) staff participated in the following annual national conferences: Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), October 2012; Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), November 2012; and American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), November 2012.
Mario E. Cerritelli, Ph.D., Chief, CDOB, continues to provide leadership to the NIH Community College Day (CCD), now in its fifth year. On October 19, 2012, more than 500 community college students and faculty visited the NIH campus to learn about careers and training opportunities in biomedicine and health care. Dr. Cerritelli gave the closing remarks. As part of this program, two NIAMS IRP staff members, Elizabeth Joyal, B.S.N., and April Brundidge, B.S.N., R.N., participated in a panel discussion on careers in nursing. This panel focused on how nurses use their training in very different ways, and examined education/career experiences and work responsibilities of research nurses at the NIH.
The 2013 NIH/NIAMS Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research is now accepting applications via the NIH Summer Internship Program’s website. The NIAMS has already begun receiving applications for these positions. For additional information concerning research training opportunities within the NIAMS Intramural Research Program, please visit the NIAMS Summer Student Program web pages.
The NIAMS continues its leadership role in the NIH Warrior Transition Program by meeting with wounded service members at career fairs that take place monthly at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, MD. CDOB staff members discuss ways in which the wounded warriors can transition back into the civilian workforce through part-time training opportunities that are available at the NIAMS/NIH. In addition, they meet with other NIH IC and Office of Intramural Research contacts to determine special staffing needs that can be fulfilled through this program.
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 Science Policy Planning and Communications, NIAMS; phone: (301) 496-8190; e-mail: NIAMSInfo@mail.nih.gov