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NIAMS Update June 2015
Each year, the NIAMS receives many worthy grant applications from talented researchers, but budgetary constraints prevent us from funding them all. We are always looking for creative ways to ensure the best science is supported, even if we are unable to fund it. Partnering with organizations that share our goals, including other government agencies, industry, patient groups and professional organizations, helps us extend our impact beyond our own resources and leverage our investments in research and training, which benefits everyone.
The NIAMS has appointed five new members to its advisory council. The council comprises scientific and lay members who have expertise in the mission areas of the Institute. Council members provide advice to the Institute on broad policy issues and make recommendations on research proposals. The new members are Joan E. Bechtold, Ph.D., V. Michael Holers, M.D., Sundeep Khosla, M.D., Amy S. Paller, M.D., and Richard F. Seiden, J.D.
It is well-known that exercise is good for you, but how exactly does physical activity improve the function of different tissues and organs in the body? What molecules underlie how physical activity is translated into better health? The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) Common Fund launched a program managed in part by the NIAMS that aims to catalogue extensively the biological molecules that are affected by physical activity in people, identify some of the key molecules that underlie the systemic effects of physical activity, and characterize the functions of these key molecules.
Many patients with sciatica endure substantial pain and disability. Oral steroids are often prescribed for patients who do not recover quickly. A new study funded by the NIAMS looked at a common oral steroid medication and its effectiveness in decreasing pain and improving function for patients with sciatica due to a herniated disc.
A major international randomized clinical trial has found that HIV-infected individuals have a considerably lower risk of developing AIDS or other serious illnesses if they start taking antiretroviral drugs sooner, when their CD4+ T-cell count—a key measure of immune system health—is higher, instead of waiting until the CD4+ cell count drops to lower levels. Together with data from previous studies showing that antiretroviral treatment reduced the risk of HIV transmission to uninfected sexual partners, these findings support offering treatment to everyone with HIV. The study was funded in part by the NIAMS.
A new study shows that it is possible to use an imaging technique called cryo-electron microscopy to view, in near-atomic detail, the architecture of a metabolic enzyme bound to a drug that blocks its activity. This advance provides a new path for solving molecular structures that may revolutionize drug development, noted the researchers.
NIH Director’s Blog
Just as the computational power of yesterday’s desktop computer has been miniaturized to fit inside your mobile phone, bioengineers have shrunk traditional laboratory instruments to the size of a dime. The “snap lab,” developed by an NIH-funded team led by Noah Malmstadt at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering, Los Angeles, is an exciting example of a microfluidic circuit—tiny devices designed to test just a single drop of blood, saliva or other fluids. Such devices have the potential to make DNA analysis, microbe detection and other biomedical tests easier and cheaper to perform.
As obesity has risen in the United States and all around the world, so too have many other obesity-related health conditions: diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and maybe even Alzheimer’s disease. But how exactly do those extra pounds lead to such widespread trouble, and how might we go about developing better ways to prevent or alleviate this very serious health threat?
There’s a new option for submitting your R01 applications to the NIH. ASSIST (the Application Submission System and Interface for Submission Tracking) is now available for submitting R01 applications, as well as most individual career development (K) award applications.
Other Federal News
Data from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) is now available to qualified researchers through HealthData.gov. Data was released in early April and can be accessed by completing the online registration and application processes at the SWAN website .
Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy was sworn in as Surgeon General on April 22, 2015. Dr. Murthy is responsible for communicating the best available scientific information to the public regarding ways to improve personal and public health. He also oversees the operations of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, comprised of approximately 6,700 uniformed health officers who serve in nearly 800 locations around the world. Read about his vision and priorities, and view his biography.
Rethought. Restructured. Reimagined. Welcome to the new HHS.gov, the website for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Research says we have seven seconds to grab your attention. People are busy and want information fast. Launched on May 16, 2015, the redesigned HHS.gov is a mobile-first responsive design site that uses a powerful smart search and has streamlined navigation.
The HHS has awarded funding to three projects through the department’s Innovation Ventures Program. One project, the Collaborative Use Repurposing Engine (CURE), is a web-based platform to capture clinical data around the world on repurposing drugs for serious diseases with no adequate treatment. A second project is designed to improve decision making and communications related to public health emergencies. The third project is a joint effort of the NIH’s National Library of Medicine (NLM) and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to improve malaria diagnosis.
Responding to the needs of an increasingly mobile public health community, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has launched its first-ever mobile app, FastStats. It provides on-the-go access to current statistics on topics of public health importance. Topics include diseases and conditions, injuries, life stages and populations, health care and insurance, and birth and mortality data for each U.S. state and territory.
The FDA has taken important new steps to continue to help manufacturers develop biologic products called biosimilars. Biosimilars are highly similar to, and have no clinically meaningful differences from, an already approved biological product. Biosimilars can provide more treatment options for patients and possibly lower treatment costs.
Neutrophils are the most abundant type of white blood cell in humans. Certain types of these cells, known as low-density granulocytes (LDG), are suspected to have a role in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and other autoimmune diseases. There is evidence that they contribute to organ-damaging inflammation and can form neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), which may promote autoantibody production. In this image, NET formation in LDGs has been detected by a laser confocal microscope. Understanding how these cells act may give clues to new targets for treatment of diseases like SLE. The image is courtesy of Mariana Kaplan, M.D., Systemic Autoimmunity Branch in the NIAMS Intramural Research Program.
The NIAMS National Multicultural Outreach Initiative webpage highlights upcoming national health observances and related NIAMS resources. July is National Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month.
NIAMS’ recently-updated brochure, Bone Health for Life: Easy-to-Read Information for Patients and Families, is now available in Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. This fundamental bone health resource presents information in an easy-to-read format and is enhanced with images. It is available for download on the NIAMS website and on the NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center website.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) seeks people with fibromyalgia to participate in an MRI study exploring how the brain responds to pain. The study location is the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, and compensation to volunteers is provided.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has added a new tip sheet, Exercising with Osteoarthritis, to its Go4Life website. The tip sheet describes the benefits of regular exercise for people with osteoarthritis and refers you to additional resources, such as:
- Improve Your Flexibility
- Improve Your Strength
- Improve Your Endurance
- Exercise DVD
- Tip Sheets: Activities and General Fitness
Acclaimed authors Jerome Groopman, M.D., and Pamela Hartzband, M.D., discuss how each of us has a “medical mind,” a highly individual approach to weighing the risks and benefits of treatment.
NIH Research Matters is a review of NIH research from the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, Office of the Director, NIH.
Most genetic variations between people have little or no effect on health. The variants that have been linked to human health conditions often alter how genes are expressed—when and where they’re turned on and off. Scientists have only just begun to understand how these variations in different tissues of the body affect human biology and disease.
Read practical health information in NIH News in Health, which is reviewed by the NIH’s medical experts and is based on research conducted either by the NIH’s own scientists or by its grantees at universities and medical schools around the country.
You know that physical activity can help you live a longer, healthier life. But did you know you don’t need to join a gym or use costly equipment to be physically active? No matter where you live, work or go to school, you can find ways to move more and sit less throughout your day. Moving more and sitting less can reduce your risk for many serious conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and certain kinds of cancer.
NIH Office of Behavioral Health and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) 20th Anniversary Celebration of Research: Healthier Lives Through Behavioral and Social Sciences
HHS Healthy Aging Summit : An NIH Partner Event
Notice of Intent to Public a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Centers of Research Translation (P50)
Letter of Intent Due Date: Not applicable
Application Due Date: August 27, 2015
Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for NLM Administrative Supplements for Informationist Services in NIH-funded Research Projects (Admin Supp)
NIH Common Fund Initiative Announcement
Discovery of the Genetic Basis of Structural Birth Defects and of Childhood Cancers: Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program (X01)
Letter of Intent Receipt Date: June 27, 2015
Application Receipt Date: July 27, 2015
Other Funding Announcements
Request for Information: NIH Precision Medicine Cohort - Strategies To Address Community Engagement and Health Disparities
Clarifying Publication Reporting Instructions for Research Performance Progress Reports (RPPR) and Renewal Applications
Reminder of Timeline for Administrative Changes to NIH Domestic Awards To Transition to Payment Management System Subaccounts
NLM Administrative Supplements for Informationist Services in NIH-Funded Research Projects (Admin Supp)
Letter of Intent Receipt Date: Not applicable
Application Receipt Date: July 17, 2015