Letter From the Director: NIAMS Aims to Broaden Support for Our Mission by Expanding Our Funding Approach

Lindsey A. Criswell, M.D., M.P.H., D.Sc.

In a change to our funding approach beginning this year, NIAMS has announced that it will set aside a larger portion of its research project grant budget to support applications that fall outside of its R01 payline. This change in approach will increase funds available for high-priority projects—allowing the institute to better address gaps and opportunities in our broad portfolio mission areas and support a wide span of scientific perspectives and investigative approaches. To learn more about these changes, please refer to the following: 

Letter From the Director: Reflecting on NIAMS’ Achievements and Driving Our Mission Forward

From funding a range of outstanding research and sharing key highlights, to supporting career development opportunities, staying engaged with key audiences, and maintaining our commitment to ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion, 2023 was a year to remember. Please read the recently published director’s letter to learn more about some of NIAMS’ 2023 accomplishments.


Dr. Paul Plotz

NIAMS Remembers Paul Plotz, M.D.

Dr. Paul Plotz, who dedicated nearly four decades of service to science at NIAMS and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), passed away on January 13, 2024, after a long illness. Dr. Plotz was a world-renowned rheumatologist, immunologist, and researcher known internationally as an expert in myositis, an inflammatory muscle disease and rare autoimmune condition.

Understanding Sex Differences in Autoimmune Disease

In autoimmune diseases, the immune system mistakenly identifies some of the body’s own cells as a threat and attacks them. Up to 50 million people in the United States live with an autoimmune disease, such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other, rarer disorders. The activity of a type of RNA called Xist may help explain why autoimmune diseases are more common in women than men.

Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) program

NIAMS Director Emphasizes Mentorship, Collaboration at Annual Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health Meeting

NIAMS Director Lindsey Criswell, M.D., M.P.H., D.Sc., delivered a lecture at the 2023 annual meeting of the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) program. BIRCWH is led by the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) and is co-sponsored by NIAMS. It provides career development training opportunities to junior faculty, connecting them with senior faculty. Watch the recorded meeting.

Three smiling young women

In People With Stable Lupus, Tapering Immunosuppressant Linked to Low Flare Risk

A clinical trial funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and supported by NIAMS, found that in people with systemic lupus erythematosus, the risk for a severe flare-up of disease was low for people who tapered off long-term immunosuppressive therapy and for those who remained on it.

NIH 2023 Research Highlights

NIH recently released a list spotlighting human health advances, promising medical findings, and basic research insights. Notable findings ranged from engineered skin grafts to a blood test for early Alzheimer’s detection to how gut microbes affect exercise motivation in mice.

Scientists Develop a Simple Blood Test to Quickly Diagnose Sarcoidosis

NIH-funded researchers developed a blood test to rapidly diagnose sarcoidosis, a chronic inflammatory disease marked by the growth of tiny lumps called granulomas in the lungs and other organs in the body. The test has the potential to become a clinical screening tool.

Request for Information: Proposed Use of Common Data Elements for NIH-Funded Clinical Research and Trials

NIH is soliciting public input on: (1) a set of minimum core common data elements (CDEs) that would be used across all NIH-funded and conducted clinical studies and trials and community-based research involving human participants; (2) additional CDEs for social determinants of health and clinical domains, including autoimmune diseases and immune-mediated diseases; and (3) technologies, tools, and policies that could facilitate the use of NIH CDEs. The deadline for responses is April 20, 2024.

Request for Information for NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for Autoimmune Disease Research

The NIH Office of Autoimmune Disease Research within ORWH is still accepting feedback on the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for Autoimmune Disease Research. The Request for Information closes on March 1, 2024.

ARPA-H Sprint for Women’s Health

The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) announced ARPA-H Sprint for Women’s Health, committing $100 million toward transformative research and development in women’s health. The funding opportunity will request proposals for innovative and collaborative approaches to enable revolutionary advances in women’s health through delivering progress in science, technology, or systems.

FY 2024 Funding Plan

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which includes NIH, is operating under the “Further Additional Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act, 2024” (H.R.2872) signed by President Biden on January 19, 2024. This Act continues government operations through March 8, 2024, at the FY 2023 enacted level.

COVID-19 Updates: Keep up with the latest on COVID-19 with health information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and research from NIH.


T Peripheral Helper Cells in Rheumatoid Arthritis Joints

Spotlight on Scientific Imagery: T Peripheral Helper Cells in Rheumatoid Arthritis Joints

In the immune system, T helper cells stimulate B cells to produce antibodies that fight potential disease-causing infections. In people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), B cells produce autoantibodies that attack the body’s own healthy tissues. Researchers have identified a specific type of T helper cells, called T peripheral helper (Tph) cells (stained blue). These cells stimulate B cells (green) to produce autoantibodies in the joints of people with RA. Understanding this mechanism may help scientists develop new treatment targets for the disease.

Photo Credit: Michael B. Brenner, M.D., and Deepak Rao, M.D., Ph.D., Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston

New NIAMS Videos Spotlight Missions of Intramural Core Facilities

NIAMS has created a series of videos that provide an overview of the missions of several Core Facilities within the NIAMS Intramural Research Program. Learn more about the Genomic Technology Section, the Translational Immunology Section, the Light Imaging Section, and the Biodata Mining and Discovery Section.

New NIAMS Health Topic—Carpal Tunnel (English and Spanish)

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the latest Health Topic to be added to the NIAMS website. This topic is available in English and Spanish and provides a detailed overview of this common nerve condition’s symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.

Funding Announcements

Stay Updated About Funding Announcements

To get timely information about grants and funding opportunities, subscribe to funding-dedicated email newsletters, including periodic NIAMS Funding Alerts and a monthly NIAMS Funding News email, and follow our X account (@NIAMSFunding) focused on funding opportunities. Also check out the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, the primary source for information about NIH funding opportunities, and request a weekly Table of Contents from the NIH Guide. In addition, the NIAMS website provides comprehensive information on NIAMS-related grants and processes.


NIAMS Advisory Council

The next NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting will be an in-person hybrid meeting on May 29, 2024. The meeting will be available for viewing via the NIH videocasting service. Watch a videocast recording of the most recent NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting, held on January 30, 2024.

Advisory council

Rare Disease Day at NIH 2024
February 29, 2024
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET  
Agenda [PDF–715KB]
Videocast available

Advancing the Use and Development of Common Data Elements in Research Workshop
March 6–7, 2024
Hybrid event: Building 45, NIH Campus and online 
Registration required

Muscular Dystrophy Coordinating Committee Meeting
March 18, 2024
12 to 4 p.m. ET 
Videocast available

WALS J. Edward Rall Cultural Lecture: The Promises and Perils of AI in Biomedical Research and Health Care Delivery
Vinton Cerf, Ph.D., Google
March 19, 2024
1:30 to 2:30 p.m. ET
Videocast available

Look for past videocasts, including:

For additional online science seminars and events hosted by the NIH, view the NIH VideoCast Future Events and the NIH calendar.