The Division of Extramural Research (DER) provides scientific management of the largest federal investment on arthritis, musculoskeletal, and skin diseases research conducted in academic institutions across the country. The DER consists of several distinct scientific and special programs, each headed by a program director, The Division of Extramural Activities (DEA) is responsible for assuring compliance with NIH and NIAMS policies and procedures with regard to scientific review, grants management, and clinical research administration.

DER works with leadership at NIAMS to coordinate extramural research programs and activities according to the overall objectives and needs of the Institute. Staff identify current scientific needs and opportunities to advance the understanding, treatment, and prevention of all diseases within the purview of NIAMS. Under the guidance of the DER Director, and in combination with NIAMS leadership, DER oversees the scientific and financial investments of the Institute, recommends promising areas of scientific research, and develops innovative programs.

In addition, DER performs the following functions:

  • Analysis, evaluation, and assessment of the content and substance of the biomedical scientific fields of interest to the Institute, which includes the review of progress being made through grants and contracts mechanisms and decisions to change scientific focus as appropriate.
  • Promotion of the most effective and efficient operation of research project activities based on scientific knowledge of state-of-the-art research technology.
  • Recommendations on resource allocations and funding decisions to the NIAMS Director to assure quality of research in seeking resolutions to the major public health issues under the purview of the Institute
  • Oversight of the development, standardization, implementation, and execution of policies, procedures, and standards of conduct for the research to ensure that all DER research is conducted in full compliance with all applicable regulations and policies and meets established standards of quality, integrity and ethics.
  • Identification and facilitation of the transfer of research results to the scientific community.
  • Coordination of program efforts with other NIH Institutes and Centers as well as other federal entities and provision of scientific expertise to trans-NIH and federal committees.
  • Consultation with external voluntary health coalitions and professional associations to help identify research needs and create a shared sense of community within the NIAMS and the scientific community in matters related to arthritis, musculoskeletal, and skin diseases.


Dr. Gayle Lester is Director of the Division of Extramural Research (DER). Dr. Lester held the position in an acting role following the reorganization of the NIAMS extramural program in April 2018. She assumed the director position in March 2020 and oversees DER.

Read more about Gayle Lester

  1. Extramural Research Program

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