I think we can all agree that 2020 was a challenging year. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us in unprecedented ways and has taken far too many lives. The pandemic forced NIAMS staff from their offices and hindered research efforts in laboratories from coast to coast. Health care providers, people with chronic conditions, researchers, trainees, advocates, and everyone else in the NIAMS extended community have been impacted in their own way.
Despite that, I want to share some of my optimism for 2021. Thanks to the NIH’s persistent efforts, we now have two vaccines going into arms of people in every state. More vaccines are in development, and I am hopeful that later this year our scientific efforts—and our nation—will start to return to a new normal. In the meantime, we need to stay patient as we continue to practice the three Ws: wear a mask, wash our hands, and watch our distance.
COVID-19 vaccines are not the only reason I see a brighter year ahead. The NIAMS is preparing to welcome Dr. Lindsey Criswell as our next Institute director. She brings a unique blend of collaborative leadership and energy that will serve her well as the Institute embarks on the next chapter of its history.
With Dr. Criswell’s pending arrival, my time as acting director is drawing to a close, and I want to take one more opportunity to say what a wonderful experience it has been to lead the NIAMS. I am grateful for all of the scientists we support who are making discoveries that will help improve the lives of millions. I want to also thank the health care workers, trainees, advocates, and many others for their consistent efforts to help support our mission. Most of all, I want to thank all the staff at the NIAMS; they make working here such a pleasure. It has been an honor to serve with all of you.
I will be returning to my role as deputy director of NIAMS. I look forward to working with and supporting Dr. Criswell. I hope the extended NIAMS community will join me in welcoming her as she leads the NIAMS into a new era.
Robert H. Carter, M.D.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Institutes of Health