January 21, 2016
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Letter from Dr. Stephen I. Katz: NIAMS Makes Strides in Reaching Diverse Communities

 Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past year, the NIAMS has made great strides in creating culturally and linguistically appropriate health information and distributing it through communication channels most used by multicultural communities. These activities reflect our commitment to implement the NIAMS Language Access Plan, part of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH's) broader effort to help ensure that people with limited English proficiency have meaningful access to NIH programs, activities and resources.

Read more.

Image: Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.


NIH Unveils FY2016–2020 Strategic Plan: Detailed Plan Sets Course for Advancing Scientific Discoveries and Human Health

Strategic Plan word cloud

The NIH released the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2016–2020: Turning Discovery Into Health [PDF - 7.9 MB], which will ensure the agency remains well positioned to capitalize on new opportunities for scientific exploration and address new challenges for human health. Developed after hearing from hundreds of stakeholders and scientific advisers, and in collaboration with leadership and staff of the NIH’s Institutes, Centers and Offices (ICOs), the plan is designed to complement the ICOs’ individual strategic plans that are aligned with their congressionally mandated missions.

NIH Announces Publication of Action Plan for Lupus Research

In response to a request from the Congressional Lupus Caucus, the NIH has released an Action Plan for Lupus Research. This report was a collaborative effort, led by the NIAMS on behalf of the NIH. It represents a synthesis of internal and external input on promising future research directions to improve the lives of people with lupus.

MRI Findings Reveal Early Changes to Joint That Predict Development of Knee Osteoarthritis

cartilage damage, MRI

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a team of scientists has detected structural changes in the knee joint that precede signs of osteoarthritis seen on X-rays. The study, which was supported in part by the NIAMS, calls into question the assumption that damage to cartilage is the primary underlying cause of osteoarthritis. The findings appeared in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology.

Image: Cartilage damage, torn meniscus, inflammation or bone marrow lesions are important triggers of knee osteoarthritis and can be seen in MRI. Photo credit: Frank W. Roemer, Boston University School of Medicine and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.

Experimental Compound Shows Promise in Reversing Skin Disease Associated with Systemic Sclerosis

A new drug appears to alter the expression of certain genes associated with systemic sclerosis by blocking a key protein, and also leads to clinical improvements in the skin, according to a study funded in part by the NIAMS. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Stem Cells Found To Play Key Role in Maintaining Swallowing Muscles: Possible Implications for Swallowing Disorders Linked to Muscular Dystrophies, Aging

pharyngeal satellite cells

A new study in mice, funded in part by the NIAMS, has shown that stem cells in the muscles lining the roof of the mouth and throat behave differently than those in other parts of the body, and are distinct at the molecular level. The findings, which appeared in the journal Stem Cells, suggest that changes to these cells contribute to swallowing problems associated with certain muscular dystrophies and aging.

Image: Even in the absence of injury, pharyngeal satellite cells proliferate and fuse (represented by green) with pharyngeal muscle fibers (outlined in red). Photo credit: Grace Pavlath, Ph.D., Emory University School of Medicine.

Bacterial Biofilms May Trigger Lupus

dendritic cells infiltrating a salmonella biofilm

Bacterial communities known as biofilms may play a role in the development of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), according to a study conducted in mice and funded in part by the NIAMS. The findings shed light on the role of microorganisms in lupus and suggest that treating underlying infections may benefit people with the disease. The study appeared in the journal Immunity.

Image: Dendritic cells (green), key sentinels of the immune system, infiltrating a Salmonella biofilm (red). Photo credit: Çagla Tükel, Ph.D., and Stefania Gallucci, M.D., Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.

2015 Research Highlights—Promising Medical Advances [PDF - 768 KB]

Scientists across the United States and the world conduct wide-ranging research to improve the health of our nation. Groundbreaking NIH-funded research often receives top scientific honors. Two NIAMS-related discoveries were included as promising medical advances for 2015.

  • Bone Risks Linked to Genetic Variants: Over 10 million people nationwide have osteoporosis, in which bones become susceptible to fracture. A large-scale genomic study—involving data from over a half million people—uncovered novel genetic variants and led researchers to an unexpected gene that affects bone density and fracture risk. The results provide insights into the genetics underlying osteoporosis and may lead to new ways to prevent bone loss and fractures.
  • Autoimmune Disease Super-Regulators Uncovered: The immune system has a complex, delicately orchestrated balance. Some cells in the system activate immune responses; others constrain immune responses. Scientists discovered key genetic switches, called super-enhancers, involved in regulating the human immune system. The finding opens the door to new research into autoimmune disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Launching the Next Phase of NIH Research on Environmental Exposures on Child Health and Development

group of toddlers smiling

The NIH has officially launched a multi-year initiative to improve our understanding of how environmental exposures affect children’s health and development. Called the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program, this effort is consistent with the goals of the former National Children’s Study, but uses a different approach.

NIAMS’ O’Shea Delivers Research Lecture at Nobel Forum

John O'Shea

John O’Shea, M.D., NIAMS Scientific Director and Chief of the Molecular Immunology and Inflammation Branch, was an invited speaker in the Fall 2015 Karolinska Research Lecture Series at the Nobel Forum in Stockholm. Dr. O’Shea’s lecture, “Basic and Applied Cytokine Signaling: From Jakinibs to Super-Enhancers,” included highlights of his research related to the signaling of cytokines, molecules that are critical for the development and functioning of the immune system. The lecture can be viewed on the NIAMS YouTube channel.

NIAMS Physician Scientists Receive Research Merit Awards

Pravitt Gourh and Hanna Kim

Pravitt Gourh, M.D., and Hanna Kim, M.D., M.S., investigators in the NIAMS Intramural Research Program, both recently received the 2015 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Distinguished Fellow Award. The award, which recognizes “clinical and research fellows who are in a rheumatology fellowship training program and who have performed meritoriously,” was presented at the ACR annual meeting in San Francisco.

Images: Pravitt Gourh, M.D., and Hanna Kim, M.D., M.S., NIAMS Intramural Research Program.

NIH Director’s Blog

Pursuing Precision Medicine for Chronic Kidney Disease

scanning electron micrograph

Every day, our kidneys filter more than 30 gallons of blood to allow excretion of molecules that can harm us if they build up as waste. But for more than 20 million Americans and a growing number of people around the world, this important function is compromised by chronic kidney disease (CKD). Some CKD patients are at high risk of progressing to actual kidney failure, treatable only by dialysis or kidney transplants, while others remain generally healthy with stable kidney function for many years with minimal treatment. Many conditions, including lupus, hypertension and diabetes, can cause CKD.

Image: Scanning electron micrograph showing a part of one of the kidney’s glomerular filters, which are damaged in people with CKD. The cells with the lacy cytoplasmic extensions are called podocytes. Photo credit: Kretzler Lab, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor.

Other Federal News

FDA Proposes Tanning Bed Age Restrictions and Other Important Safety Measures

On December 18, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced important proposed steps to protect public health by preventing the use of sunlamp products (also commonly known as indoor tanning beds) by minors and reducing the risk of using these devices for adults. The FDA is committed to protecting public health by informing consumers of the risks of indoor tanning. Comments on the new proposed rules are due by March 21 and may be submitted on regulations.gov.

FDA Launches precisionFDA To Harness the Power of Scientific Collaboration

On December 15, the FDA launched precisionFDA, an online, cloud-based portal that will allow scientists from industry, academia, government and other partners to come together to foster innovation and develop the science behind a method of “reading” DNA known as next-generation sequencing.

FDA Announces Drug Trials Snapshots Database

collage of portraits for drug trial snapshots

The FDA has announced Drug Trials Snapshots, a tool that lets consumers check information about the participation of women and minorities in drug trials. Drug Trials Snapshots also highlights certain drug trial results, such as differences in the benefits and side effects among sex, race and age groups.



FDA Allows Marketing of Cooling Cap To Reduce Hair Loss During Chemotherapy

The FDA cleared for marketing in the United States the first cooling cap to reduce hair loss (alopecia) in female breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.


Spotlight on Scientific Imagery: TRAF6: Key Protein Identified in Muscle Regeneration


Skeletal muscles heal following an injury by activating satellite stem cells to generate new muscle cells. But in some diseases like muscular dystrophy, this process does not work as it should. NIAMS-funded researchers have identified a protein, the TNF receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6), which may be key to developing new stem cell treatments for muscle-wasting diseases. The left image shows extensive formation of new muscle fibers (red) following injury in a mouse muscle containing the TRAF6 protein. The image on the right is injured mouse muscle that does not contain TRAF6. It shows a marked deficit in muscle regeneration and large areas devoid of muscle fibers (white), as well as accumulations of fibrotic tissue (blue). This image is courtesy of Ashok Kumar, Ph.D., University of Louisville School of Medicine.

NIAMS Website Features Resources for Kids

Kids' pages graphic

The NIAMS Kids Pages are educational, interactive and fun. Help your kids learn about bones, joints, muscles and skin, and how to keep them their healthiest. The Kids Pages feature printable versions, pop-up word definitions, an interactive quiz at the end of each section and links to other resources.

Lower Your Risk of Falling: Simple Steps You Can Take To Help Prevent Falls

two elderly women smiling at each other

One in three older adults will fall each year. Falling can lead to broken bones, trouble getting around and other health problems. The Healthfinder website suggests several small changes to help prevent falls. The website also links to “Conversation starters”—tips for talking to your loved one about preventing falls.

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements – New Fact Sheets

The NIH Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) fact sheets are a resource for current information about vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements. ODS has fact sheets in two versions—Health Professional and Consumer. Both versions provide the same types of information but vary in the level of detail. Consumer versions are also available in Spanish.

The newest fact sheets are:

NIH Research Matters

NIH Research Matters is a review of NIH research from the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, Office of the Director, NIH.

Engineering Functional Vocal Cord Tissue

vocal cord tissue

Your voice is as unique as your fingerprint. It helps define your personality, mood and health. Your ability to talk—as well as to laugh, sing and cry—results from airflow from your lungs pushing past your vocal cords (folds) with enough pressure to cause them to vibrate. The vocal folds are a pair of rubber band-like tissues located in your larynx (voice box) directly above the windpipe (trachea). They’re made of up several layers of cells, including muscle and an elastic layer, known as the mucosa.

NIH News in Health

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.

Coping With Caregiving: Take Care of Yourself While Caring for Others

graphic illustration of couple sitting on sofa

It can be a labor of love, and sometimes a job of necessity. A total of about 43 million U.S. adults provide unpaid care for someone with a serious health condition each year. These often unsung heroes provide hours of assistance to others. Yet the stress and strain of caregiving can take a toll on health. NIH-funded researchers are working to understand the risks these caregivers face, and scientists are seeking better ways to protect caregivers’ health.


February NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting

The NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting will be held February 2, 2016, in Building 31, 6th Floor, C Wing, Conference Room 6, NIH Campus. A meeting agenda is posted. The Council meeting will be available for live viewing via the NIH videocasting service as well.

NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting

Rare Disease Day at NIH

Monday, February 29, 2016
8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Location: NIH Campus, Masur Auditorium (Building 10)
Cost: free
Registration is here .
A meeting agenda is available.
Available by videocast.

FDA Public Meeting: Opportunity for Public Comment on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Psoriasis

Thursday, March 17, 2016
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Location: FDA White Oak Campus, 10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Building 31 Conference Center, Room 1503 B+C
Silver Spring, MD 20993
Registration for the meeting must be received by March 10, 2016.
For additional information, contact Meghana Chalasani at meghana.chalasani@fda.hhs.gov.

NIH Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series

The 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 Lecture:

February 3, 2016
Bing Ren, Ph.D., Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, University of California, San Diego
The 3D Genome Organization and Long-Range Control of Gene Expression

NIH Science Lectures and Events Available via Internet

The NIH hosts a number of science seminars and events that are available online through real-time streaming video. An event can be watched at your convenience as an on-demand video or a downloadable podcast. Most events are available to all; a few are broadcast for NIH or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and are marked as such. See additional details on events.



Notice To Participate in PA-16-040 “Exploratory/Developmental Bioengineering Research Grants (EBRG) (R21)”


Clinical Sites for the IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network (UG1)

Letter of Intent Receipt Date: March 15, 2016
Application Receipt Date: April 15, 2016

Data Coordinating and Operations Center for the IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network (U24)

Letter of Intent Receipt Date: March 15, 2016
Application Receipt Date: April 15, 2016

Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes: Patient Reported Outcomes Research Resource Center Core (ECHO PRO Core) (U24)

Letter of Intent Receipt Date: March 15, 2016
Application Receipt Date: April 15, 2016

Notice of New Application Forms Package for RFA-OD-16-006 “Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Coordinating Center (U2C)”


Notice of New Application Forms Package for RFA-OD-16-005 “Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Data Analysis Center (U24)”


Notice of New Application Forms Package for RFA-OD-16-004 “Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Pediatric Cohorts (UG3/UH3)”


Notice of New Application Forms Package for RFA-OD-16-003 “Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes: Patient Reported Outcomes Research Resource Center Core (ECHO PRO Core) (U24)”


Notice of Frequently Asked Questions Posted to the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program Website and Upcoming ECHO Webinars


Limited Competition: Exposure Analysis Services for the Environmental Influences on Children’s Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program (Admin Supplement)

Letter of Intent Receipt Date: March 15, 2016
Application Receipt Date: April 15, 2016


Notice of New Application Forms Package for RFA-RM-15-010 “Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity Genomics, Epigenomics and Transcriptomics Chemical Analysis Sites (U24)”


Notice of New Application Forms Package for RFA-RM-15-011 “Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity Metabolomics and Proteomics Chemical Analysis Sites (U24)”


Notice of New Application Forms Package for RFA-RM-15-012 “Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity Bioinformatics Center (U24)”


Notice of New Application Forms Package for RFA-RM-15-013 “Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity Preclinical Animal Study Sites (U01)”


Notice of New Application Forms Package for RFA-RM-15-014 “Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity Consortium Coordinating Center (CCC) (U24)”


Notice of New Application Forms Package for RFA-RM-15-015 “Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity Clinical Centers (U01)”



Notice of Frequently Asked Questions Posted Related to the Precision Medicine Initiative®(PMI) Cohort Program Website


Clarifying NIH Priorities for Health Economics Research


Save the Date for the 2016 NIH Regional Seminar in Baltimore, Maryland—May 11–13


Revised SF424 (R&R) Application Guides and Supplemental Instructions Available for Application Due Dates On and Between January 25, 2016 and May 24, 2016


Publication of the Revised NIH Grants Policy Statement (Rev. 11/2015) for FY 2016


Updates to NIH and AHRQ Research Performance Progress Reports (RPPR) To Address Rigor and Transparency


New Salary and Research Cost Allowances for K08 and K23 Career Development Awards


Advanced Notice of Coming Requirements for Formal Instruction in Rigorous Experimental Design and Transparency to Enhance Reproducibility: NIH and AHRQ Institutional Training Grants and Individual Fellowships


Notice of Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Collaboration in RFA-TW-16-001 “Fogarty Global Injury and Trauma Research Training Program (D43)”


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.
Last Reviewed: 01/21/2016