NIAMS Update February 2009

NIAMS - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Update - An online resource for the NIAMS Coalition, Council, and Colleague
February 19, 2009
The NIAMS Update is a monthly digest published for those interested in the latest scientific news and resources on diseases of the bones, joints, muscles, and skin. We encourage further dissemination of this resource.
In This Issue
   Funding Announcements
Contact Information

Melanie M. Martinez, M.P.A. Public Liaison Officer

Trish Reynolds, R.N., M.S. Media Liaison

Janet S. Austin, Ph.D. Director, Office of Communications and Public Liaison

NIH Releases First Biennial Report of the Director
First Biennial Report of the Director Raynard S. Kington, M.D., Ph.D., acting director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced the publication of the first Biennial Report of the Director, a document that provides an integrated portrait of NIH research activities. The report makes it easier for Congress, advocates and patient groups, and the general public to understand the many programs within the Agency.
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Balance is the Key to Production of Healthy Skin
NIAMS-supported scientists at the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in Palo Alto and at Stanford University have discovered a mechanism that contributes to differentiation of skin cells during normal skin growth. Understanding the processes that regulate normal skin growth may provide a better understanding of and lead to the development of therapies for diseases such as eczema and skin cancer. The study appeared in a recent issue of the journal Genes & Development.
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Immune System Flexibility Identified in Helper T Cell Function
Scientists from NIH have discovered a new explanation for the flexibility of responses of one type of immune system cell, called T lymphocytes, using a new genome sequencing technology that surveys the cells’ epigenomes. The epigenome is the heritable cellular information, other than DNA, which affects phenotype. Their work has generated the largest blueprint of its kind for studying the biology of these cells and provides new clues about the epigenetic regulation of key immune genes—clues that could one day be used to treat diseases, particularly autoimmune and infectious diseases.
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Knee Pain and Meniscus Tears—What’s the Connection?
A great many Americans are walking around with torn menisci in their knees, and it's not bothering them a bit. This finding, from a study done by researchers funded in part by NIAMS, encourages practitioners to take a closer look at their diagnostic and treatment options when advising their patients about knee pain.
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Communication between Immune Cells Can Dampen Allergic Reactions
Scientists at NIAMS have found that communication between two immune system cells can decrease allergic responses in mice. By studying the interactions between the two cells, the scientists hope to better understand the factors that contribute to allergic reactions, allergic asthma, and anaphylactic shock. The study appeared in a recent issue of the journal Immunity.
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New Findings Raise Questions about Process Used to Identify Experimental Drug for Rare Genetic Diseases
A study by NIH researchers has revealed surprising new insights into the process used to initially identify an experimental drug now being tested in people with cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy. Researchers emphasized the clinical implications of their findings are unclear, but said the results suggest more work may be needed to make sure the screening process to select promising agents was not flawed by its effects on a firefly enzyme used as a marker. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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Roundtable Discussion on Bone Biology and Diseases
In 2008, NIAMS began developing a new long-range plan for fiscal years 2010 to 2014 to provide a broad outline of opportunities and needs related to the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and, ultimately, prevention of diseases within the Institute’s mission areas. As part of this process, NIAMS hosted a series of roundtable discussions to get input and guidance from the scientific community about areas of research to include in the new plan. The summary of the roundtable discussion on bone biology and diseases is now available.
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OAI Announces Availability of New Data and Images
The Steering Committee of the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) announces the availability of its next installment of data and images for the OAI cohort to members of the scientific community registered on OAI Online []. The OAI is a public-private partnership between NIH and private industry that seeks to improve diagnosis and monitoring of osteoarthritis (OA) and foster development of new treatments. Read the description of the biospecimens and learn about the application process.
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February 2009 Shorttakes Available on NIAMS Web Site
A compilation of news from NIAMS that is published three times a year. Just scan these "Shorttakes" for information on what's happening at NIAMS, or access the complete articles for viewing or use in your own newsletter or other publication.
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National Children’s Study Begins Recruiting Volunteers
NIH recently announced that the National Children’s Study will begin recruiting volunteers to take part in its comprehensive study of how genes and the environment interact to affect children's health. The study will track the health and development of more than 100,000 children from before birth through to their 21st birthday.
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Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Launches New Web Site
A redesigned and enhanced Web site-for scientists, advocacy groups, the media, and the general public-providing key information on behavioral and social science research and activities at NIH is now online.
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Three New Informatics Pilot Projects to Aid Clinical and Translational Scientists Nationwide
NIH has awarded three contracts for pilot projects to improve informatics support for researchers conducting small- to medium-sized clinical studies. Each of the 2-year contracts, which will total up to an estimated $4 million, represents a collaboration among individuals at three or more institutions that receive NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA). One of the CTSA program goals is to advance collaborations in clinical and translational research by interdisciplinary teams of investigators. These collaborations help enable the translation of rapidly evolving information developed in basic biomedical research into treatments and strategies to improve human health.
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NIH Public Bulletin
Read about the latest public events, activities, and health information resources from NIH in the latest issue of the NIH Public Bulletin.
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Structural Basic of Muscle Contraction: A Symposium Honoring Dr. Leepo C. Yu
Pioneers and leaders in the field of muscle biology will come together to discuss the molecular basis of contraction and movement. This symposium is in honor of Dr. Leepo Yu and her distinguished 36-year career at NIH conducting basic research in the Laboratories of Physical Biology and Muscle Biology.

February 27, 2009
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Building 50 Auditorium
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD
Contact: Kimberly Griffin, 301-435-5316

Funding Announcements
NIH Roadmap Initiative Announcements

Institutional Clinical and Translational Science Award (U54)
Letters of Intent Receipt Date: September 14, 2009
Application Receipt Dates: October 14, 2009
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Other Research Announcements

PHS 2009-02 Omnibus Solicitation of the NIH, CDC, FDA, and ACF for Small Business Innovation Research Grant Applications (Parent SBIR [R43/R44])
Letters of Intent Receipt Dates: Not applicable
Application Receipt Dates: Standard dates apply
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Pre-Application for Dietary Supplement Research Centers: Botanicals (X02) (PAR-09-091)
Letters of Intent Receipt Date: Not Applicable
Application Receipt Date: April 30, 2009
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