The NIAMS Update is produced and distributed by the NIAMS Science Communications and Outreach Branch. It is an online resource for the NIAMS Coalition, Council, and Colleagues.


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

Director’s Letter: Amping Up Our Investment in Autoimmune Disease Research

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Foundation for the NIH (FNIH), eight pharmaceutical companies, and five nonprofit organizations have partnered to further our understanding of the cellular and molecular disease pathways in autoimmune and immune-mediated diseases. The Accelerating Medicines Partnership®: Autoimmune and Immune-Mediated Diseases (AMP® AIM) program will advance the discovery of disease mechanisms and therapeutic targets in rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and Sjögren's disease.

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


Fiscal Year 2022 Funding Plan

The NIAMS is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution through February 18, 2022. An interim funding plan is under development and will be posted as soon as it is available.

COVID-19 Updates

Get the latest public health information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the latest funding opportunities and research news from the NIH. Additional news and resources include:

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UNITE Initiative—Upcoming Events for Stakeholders

The NIH launched the UNITE initiative in March 2021 to address structural racism in the biomedical research enterprise. Through this initiative, the NIH is hosting a series of listening sessions to learn from external stakeholder communities about the full range of issues and challenges in advancing racial and ethnic equity in the biomedical research enterprise. We share common interests in these areas and hope you will join us to share your unique perspectives. To learn more about the listening sessions and to register for the sessions being held in January 2022, click here.

Accelerating Medicines Partnership®: Bespoke Gene Therapy Consortium

To support the newly launched Accelerating Medicines Partnership® Bespoke Gene Therapy Consortium (BGTC), the FNIH has released multiple opportunities for researchers, clinicians, and patient advocates to contribute to the work of the consortium. Two Requests for Proposals have been announced. The BGTC is seeking high-throughput screens or other promising developments to optimize individual steps of the adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector generation and human gene expression pathways.

Headshot image of Dr. Mariana J. Kaplan

NIH’ers Among Newest NAM Electees

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) recently announced the election of 100 new members, including four NIH’ers. Mariana J. Kaplan, M.D., NIAMS Deputy Scientific Director and Chief of the Systemic Autoimmunity Branch, was named for seminal contributions that have significantly advanced the understanding of the pathogenic role of the innate immune system in systemic autoimmune diseases, atherosclerosis, and immune-mediated vasculopathies.

Headshot images of Drs. Sarfaraz Hasni and Mariana Kaplan

New Treatment Shows Promise in Reducing the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in People With Lupus

Researchers led by the NIAMS’ Dr. Mariana J. Kaplan and Sarfaraz Hasni, M.D., Director, Lupus Clinical Trials Unit, have identified a potential treatment to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with systemic lupus erythematosus, a chronic autoimmune disease.

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2021 NIAMS Trainees Participate in Unique Virtual Program

This past summer, the NIAMS Career Development and Outreach Branch hosted the first NIAMS Intramural Virtual Training Research Opportunities program. Fifteen students from across the country and Puerto Rico participated in this innovative and highly effective summer research experience.

Image of colorized muscle tissue sample scan from mouse

Robotic Massage Helps Regenerate Muscles in Mice

Scientists found that robotic compression mechanotherapy helped heal severely injured muscles in mice by clearing inflammatory factors and immune cells from the tissue. The study was supported by the NIAMS, other NIH Institutes, and the National Science Foundation.

Graphic of microscopic view of skin cells

New Study Identifies Mechanism Underlying Wound Healing and Potential Target for Speeding Healing Process

In a study supported in part by the NIAMS, scientists found that the ion channel PIEZO1, which spans cell membranes and helps convert mechanical forces into electrochemical signals, also regulates skin cells called keratinocytes during wound healing and may be a target for developing medicines that speed up the healing process.

NIH Scientists Discover New B Cell That Tempers Autoimmunity

Researchers at the National Eye Institute (NEI) have identified, isolated, and characterized a unique population of B cells that tamps down the immune system, reducing chronic inflammation. Infusions of purified IL-27 regulatory B cells (I27-Breg) reduced symptoms in mouse models of multiple sclerosis and the eye disease autoimmune uveitis. 

Image of a woman standing and leaning forward as she touches her back

Retraining the Brain to Treat Chronic Pain

Researchers have developed a type of treatment called pain reprocessing therapy to help the brain “unlearn” the type of chronic pain that occurs in the absence of injury or persists after an injury has healed. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) supported the study.

FDA Authorizes Marketing of Virtual Reality System for Chronic Pain Reduction

The FDA authorized marketing of a prescription-use immersive virtual reality system that uses cognitive behavioral therapy and other behavioral methods to help with pain reduction in patients age 18 years and older with diagnosed chronic lower back pain.

Funding Opportunities

AMP® Bespoke Gene Therapy Consortium Is Now Accepting Requests for Proposals  

Application Due Date: February 18, 2022


Notice of Special Interest: Research to Address Vaccine Hesitancy, Uptake, and Implementation Among Populations That Experience Health Disparities (NOT-MD-22-006)

Multiple due dates

Limited Competition: Promoting a Basic Understanding of Chemical Threats to Skin (R34 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) (PAS-21-245)

Next application due date: February 16, 2022

Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative: Planning Studies for Initial Analgesic Development [Small Molecules and Biologics] (R61 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) (RFA-NS-21-029)

Multiple due dates


Stay Updated About Funding Announcements

If you would like 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 Twitter 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. You can also request a weekly Table of Contents from the NIH Guide. In addition, the NIAMS website provides comprehensive information on NIAMS-related grants and processes.


Colorized image of drosophila intestine

Spotlight on Scientific Imagery: Drosophila Intestine

Drosophila melanogaster intestine cross-section. Stained for Actin (PhTRITC- magenta), mitochondria (mito-GFP- green), and nucleus (DAPI- blue).

Photo credit: Katti Prasanna, Ph.D., Muscle Energetics Laboratory, NIAMS, and the  National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

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New! “What Is NIAMS?” Video Overview

Watch this new video to learn more about the NIAMS’ programs, community partnerships, research priorities, and investigators.

The text "What Is NIAMS?" surrounded by six images of cells and tissue samples

NEW! “What Is NIAMS?” Brochure

We have redesigned and updated our “What Is NIAMS?” summary! The content is available online and as a downloadable PDF for printing as a two-sided 8.5” x 11” flyer. It features:

  • An overview of the NIAMS’ mission areas.
  • Research highlights from the NIAMS Intramural Program and the NIAMS Extramural Program.
  • Links to other NIAMS publications and social media channels.
  • Contact information for NIAMS information clearinghouses.

Collage of 3 cover images from the Living With series brochures

NIAMS Health Information Basics Series Now Includes Information on Back Pain

The NIAMS recently added a new title, Living With Back Pain, to its popular “Health Information Basics” series. The NIAMS also recently updated two other resources in the series, Living With Arthritis and Living With Lupus. The free booklets, designed for patients and families, present basic information in a simple, easy-to-read format and provide helpful tips on how to cope with these conditions. The booklets also include tools that you can tear out and use to record information to share with your doctor, including a symptom tracker, pain tracker, and medication tracker. The booklets will soon be available in Spanish.


Special November NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting Available on Videocast

A video recording of the November 18, 2021, NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting is available.

The next NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting will be held virtually on February 1, 2022.

NIAMS Advisory Council

NIH Director’s Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series

Upcoming Lectures:

February 9, 2022
3 to 4 p.m. ET
Luda Diatchenko, M.D., Ph.D., McGill University
Reconstruction of the Pathophysiology of Chronic Pain from Genome-wide Studies

February 23, 2022
3 to 4 p.m. ET
Cliff Tabin, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School
Control of Embryonic Morphogenesis


NIH Science Lectures and Events Available via Internet

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.