NIAMS Update September 2009

NIAMS - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Update - An online resource for the NIAMS Coalition, Council, and Colleague
September 17, 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

Office of Communications and Public Liaison

Janet S. Austin, Ph.D.

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

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

NIH Director's New Innovator Award logo
NIH Director's Pioneer Award
NIH Seeks High-Risk, High-Impact Proposals Through NIH Director’s Pioneer, New Innovator and Transformative R01 Initiatives

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) welcomes proposals for the 2010 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award and New Innovator Award programs. Both programs are part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research and support exceptionally creative scientists who take highly innovative, potentially high-impact approaches to major challenges in biomedical or behavioral research. Pioneer Awards provide up to $2.5 million in direct costs over five years and are open to scientists at any career stage. New Innovator Awards provide up to $1.5 million in direct costs over the same period and are for early stage investigators who have not received an NIH regular research (R01) or similar NIH grant.

Mapping Knee Pain Is a Reliable Way to Identify Pain Location and Pattern
Being able to put a finger or two—or even the palm of your hand—on the source of your knee pain may one day be able to help your doctor identify its cause and determine appropriate treatment for it, according to C. Kent Kwoh, M.D., who led a study to better understand the localization and patterns of pain in knee osteoarthritis (OA).

Total Knee Replacement Found Cost-Effective for End-Stage Knee OA
When knee osteoarthritis severely affects quality of life, total knee replacement is a highly cost-effective treatment option, according to a new study supported in part by NIAMS. The study also found that when knee replacement is performed at a medical center that does more procedures than others, cost-effectiveness is even greater. The findings were recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Antimalarial Drug May Protect Kidneys in Lupus Patients
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), also known simply as “lupus,” is an autoimmune disorder that can affect multiple organs. The kidneys, which are part of the renal system, are often affected. The damage lupus can cause to the kidneys can be severe. Now, scientists funded in part by NIAMS have confirmed that a drug originally developed to fight malaria has the potential to provide a protective effect for the renal system.

Scientists Identify New Genetic Risk Factor for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Researchers supported by grants from NIAMS have identified a new genetic risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Peter K. Gregersen, M.D., head of the Robert S. Boas Center for Genomics and Human Genetics at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, and his collaborators in the North American Rheumatoid Arthritis Consortium, identified a gene dubbed REL as being involved in the signaling pathway that can lead to RA.

NIAMS Researchers Investigate FMF in People With Only One MEFV Gene Mutation
Familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) has always been considered a recessively inherited disease occurring in people with two Mediterranean fever gene mutations (MEFV)—one from each parent. However, researchers at NIAMS recently confirmed that a substantial subset of people with FMF carry only one MEFV mutation. Their findings were published in the June issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Researchers Find Muscle Wasting a Distinct Process
Skeletal muscle wasting is more complex than simply a somewhat haphazard decrease in muscle size, according to a new study by Harvard Medical School scientists. It is a regulated, programmed, biochemical process in which distinct muscle components are broken down in an ordered manner.

The research, supported by NIAMS, indicates that separate destructive processes work to disassemble thick and thin muscle filaments, the protein-composed muscle-cell structures that generate strength by pushing past one another when muscles contract. Muscle wasting with loss of function is a major problem in aged populations, and this new information could be particularly useful to researchers studying muscle loss and trying to develop therapies to combat this debilitating process in an era when the U.S. population is rapidly aging.

NIAMS-Supported Scientists Find New Clue to How Skin Matures
To survive in this world, you must develop a thick skin—literally. The thick, outer layer of skin—the epidermis—is what separates us from the outside world, keeping in moisture and functioning as a defense against the environment. The skin is not fully developed until shortly before birth. Therefore, prematurely born infants are defective in the skin barrier and at risk for medical complications such as dehydration, difficulties maintaining body temperature, infection and skin breakdown.

New findings by NIAMS-supported researchers, however, could potentially lead to ways to speed skin maturation in tiny babies at risk for these problems. While such therapies are still years away, they are a step closer, thanks to a better understanding of how normal skin develops and more specifically how embryonic cells develop into epidermal cells.

Diagnostic Technique Shows Promise for Primary Sjögren’s Syndrome
For the thousands of Americans who will be evaluated this year for the autoimmune disorder primary Sjögren’s syndrome, their doctors will likely test for two antibodies that are often associated with the condition. The problem is, today’s standard blood tests detect the more strongly associated antibody, called SSB, only about half the time, making the meaning of a negative result uncertain. But these numbers could one day improve. Scientists at NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research report online in the journal Autoimmunity that a rapid, automated test called LIPS, now under development, identified the SSB antibody correctly three out of four times and with perfect accuracy.

NIH Study Reveals New Genetic Culprit in Deadly Skin Cancer: Sequencing Work Points to New Target for Melanoma Treatment
Drawing on the power of DNA sequencing, NIH researchers have identified a new group of genetic mutations involved in the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma. This discovery is particularly encouraging because some of the mutations, which were found in nearly one-fifth of melanoma cases, reside in a gene already targeted by a drug approved for certain types of breast cancer.

NIH Helps Advance Research Careers Through Student Loan Repayment Programs
NIH fosters the careers of thousands of scientific researchers through its extramural Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs). The two-year award repays up to $35,000 per year of educational loan debt for individuals who commit to conducting two years of qualified biomedical or behavioral research at a nonprofit or government institution. The five extramural LRPs are Clinical Research, Pediatric Research, Health Disparities Research, Contraception and Infertility Research, and Clinical Research for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds. The 2010 application cycle opens September 1 and closes December 1.

New NIH Tool Makes Funding Data, Research Results and Products Searchable
Comprehensive funding information for NIH grants and contracts is now available on the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool (RePORT) thanks to a new, user-friendly system called the RePORT Expenditures and Results, or RePORTER. RePORTER combines NIH project databases and funding records, PubMed abstracts, full-text articles from PubMed Central and information from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with a robust search engine, allowing users to locate descriptions and funding details on NIH-funded projects, along with research results that cite NIH support.

Meetings and Events
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Grants: Stimulating and Commercializing Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine in Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and Disorders
In 2008, NIAMS hosted two meetings to get input from the small business and scientific communities involved in the tissue engineering and regenerative medicine (TE/RM) research area. One meeting was held on March 1, 2008, in conjunction with the 54th Annual Orthopaedic Research Society Meeting in San Francisco, California. Another took place on April 24, 2008, with the Symposium on Advanced Wound Care and Wound Healing Society Meeting in San Diego, California.

NIAMS scientific program staff met with investigators with a broad range of expertise, including business representatives, clinicians, engineers, biomedical researchers, and NIH scientific review officers of small business applications. Both meetings focused on how to better utilize the NIAMS small business investment to facilitate the translation of TE/RM research and, ultimately, the development of commercial products. A summary of both meetings is now available.

Fifth Annual NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Symposium
September 24 to 25, 2009
Masur Auditorium (Building 10)
NIH campus

The fifth annual NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Symposium on September 24 and 25 is free and open to the public. The event will feature research talks by the first graduating class of Pioneer Award recipients as well as by the class of 2008. Other highlights include a keynote address on inventiveness by the Smithsonian Institution’s Arthur Molella, Ph.D., poster sessions, a roundtable discussion on the interplay between technology development and hypothesis-driven research and announcement of the 2009 Pioneer and New Innovator awardees.

Registration is not required. See the agenda. The event will also be videocast live and archived.

NIH Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series
NIH’s Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series offers weekly lectures every Wednesday at 3 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Building 10, NIH campus. Renowned scientists from around the globe present research on a variety of topics. The lectures are Continuing Medical Education certified, open to the public and available live via Webcast.

Upcoming lectures:

Maya Angelou
J. Edward Rall Cultural Lecture
September 23, 2009

James Hildreth
“Cholesterol, HIV and AIDS”
September 30, 2009

Dr. Frank J. Rauscher, III
“Gridlock on the Genomic Beltway: How Epigenetic Gene Silencing Shapes our Cellular Phenotypes”
October 14, 2009

Dr. Bonnie Bassler
“Intra- and Inter-Species Cell-to-Cell Communication in Bacteria”
October 21, 2009

Dr. Robert Sapolsky
“Stress and Health: From Molecules to Societies”
October 28, 2009

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.

NIH News in Health
Read practical health information in NIH News in Health, which is reviewed by NIH’s medical experts and is based on research conducted either by NIH’s own scientists or by our grantees at universities and medical schools around the country.

New Publications

What Are Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases?
A new fact sheet is available from NIAMS. It is part of our easy-to-read “Fast Facts” series of publications for the public.

¿Qué son la bursitis y la tendinitis? (What Are Bursitis and Tendinitis?)
A new Esenciales publication is available from NIAMS. Esenciales is a series of easy-to-read fact sheets in Spanish that describe different diseases of the bones, joints, muscles and skin, along with the diseases’ causes and treatment options. The fact sheets also provide information on current research. Find this new fact sheet, along with more Esenciales titles and other Spanish-language materials, on the NIAMS Web site.

Revised Publications

Questions and Answers about Psoriasis
This booklet contains general information about psoriasis. It describes what psoriasis is, its causes and treatment options. Information about promising areas of research also is provided.

Questions and Answers about Reactive Arthritis
This booklet contains general information about reactive arthritis. It describes what reactive arthritis is, its causes and treatment options. Highlights about promising areas of research also are included.

Funding Announcements

NIH Roadmap Initiative Announcements

2010 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Program (DP1)
Letters of Intent Receipt Date: Not applicable
Application Receipt Date: October 20, 2009

2010 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award Program (DP2)
Letters of Intent Receipt Date: Not applicable
Application Receipt Date: October 27, 2009

Institutional Clinical and Translational Science Award (U54)
Letters of Intent Receipt Date: May 3, 2010
Application Receipt Date: June 1, 2010

NIAMS Research Announcements

NIAMS Building Interdisciplinary Research Team (BIRT) Revision Awards (R01)
Letters of Intent Receipt Date: October 14, 2009
Application Receipt Date: November 13, 2009

Other Research Announcements

Innovations in Biomedical Computational Science and Technology (R01)
Letters of Intent Receipt Date: Not applicable
Application Receipt Dates: Standard dates apply

Exploratory Innovations in Biomedical Computational Science and Technology (R21)
Letters of Intent Receipt Date: Not applicable
Application Receipt Dates: Standard dates apply

Innovations in Biomedical Computational Science and Technology Initiative (SBIR [R43/R44])
Letters of Intent Receipt Date: Not applicable
Application Receipt Dates: Standard dates apply

Innovations in Biomedical Computational Science and Technology Initiative (STTR [R41/R42])
Letters of Intent Receipt Date: Not applicable
Application Receipt Dates: Standard dates apply

Limited Competition for Research Centers in Minority Institutions Infrastructure for Clinical and Translational Research (RCTR) [U54]
Letters of Intent Receipt Date: Not Applicable
Application Receipt Date: November 18, 2009

If you would like to review information about funding opportunities more frequently than our monthly updates allow, see the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, the primary source for information about NIH funding opportunities. You can also request a weekly Table of Contents from the NIH Guide.