Every great journey starts with a single step. I have hiked many long trails—including the High Sierra Trail that leads to the summit of California’s Mount Whitney, the tallest U.S. mountain outside Alaska—and I know the need for careful preparation that comes even before taking that first step. As I embark on my new role as the director of the NIAMS, I am ready to listen and learn from the entire NIAMS community. I am honored to be starting such an important role.
As you may know, I have been an academic researcher for the past three decades and I have also served as an administrator. Throughout that time, I learned the power of collaboration. My newest—and possibly most important—collaboration is with all of you, the NIAMS community. I join the NIAMS with an open mind and open ears. I plan to continue to build on the best of what the NIAMS already does and will collaborate with you to enhance and advance our Institute’s work.
This is an Institute that has persevered through many challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted the daily lives of so many Americans. The pandemic presented obstacles to our labs on the NIH campus and at research facilities across the nation. From afar, I could see the resilience of the dedicated NIAMS staff who kept the Institute on course. I am proud to be joining the NIAMS family.
Becoming the director of the NIAMS presents an exciting opportunity. Our research covers a wide range of areas—including bones, joints, muscles, and skin—affecting the lives of millions of Americans. We have made great strides to improve the health of the nation through our history, and we will further this legacy.
I am proud to build on work of the past NIAMS leadership. Former NIAMS Director Dr. Stephen Katz set us on a visionary path. Acting Director Dr. Robert Carter has continued to move the NIAMS forward. I know I will lean on Bob’s deep institutional knowledge as I learn about the NIAMS from the inside.
In many ways, my new role is a lot like looking up toward a distant mountain peak. Fortunately, I will not be alone as I begin this particular climb. I welcome all of you, from the staff in Bethesda to the extended NIAMS community, to join me as I take my first steps in my new role. Together, we will move the NIAMS into an exciting new era.
Lindsey A. Criswell, M.D., M.P.H., D.Sc.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Institutes of Health