The Next Step in Studying How Movement Becomes Medicine

Dear Colleagues: I am writing to update you about the new NIH Common Fund program to discover how physical activity helps people live longer and be healthier. Earlier this month, NIH formed the Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity Consortium (MoTrPAC) by issuing 19 awards to basic, translational, and clinical researchers around the country. Over the next six years, MoTrPAC investigators will map the molecules involved in human physical activity. Decades of research have demonstrated that conversations occur among organs during and after exercise. Our new goal is to record the changes and movement of these molecules, which provide the "voice"

Sex-Differences in Achilles Tendon Properties May Explain Why Ruptures Occur More Often in Men

A new study in rats, funded in part by the NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), has revealed differences between males and females in the physical properties of the Achilles tendon. The results, which appeared in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering, may explain why the incidence of ruptures is about five times higher in men than women. A detailed analysis of the characteristics of the Achilles tendon may lead to insights on how to avoid debilitating tears and possibly to new clinical approaches for repairing them. The Achilles tendon, the largest tendon in the human

Muscle Aging Linked to Failure of Stem Cells to Interact with Environment

New research in mice, funded in part by the NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), has revealed that interactions between muscle stem cells and their immediate external environment deteriorate with aging, hampering muscle repair. The findings, which appeared in two companion papers in the journal, Nature Medicine, suggest that enhancing these connections could help maintain muscle strength in older adults and promote muscle repair in people with diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Aging comes with a gradual loss of skeletal muscle strength and slowed recovery from muscle injuries, which together can significantly affect a

NIAMS’s Gourley Mourned

After living with kidney cancer for 4½ years, Dr. Mark F. Gourley, former director of the NIAMS Rheumatology Fellowship and Training Branch, died on Sept. 17. He was 58 years old. When Gourley was still a student at Tulane University Medical School in New Orleans, he had his first experience at NIH, completing a 9-week immunology rotation. In 1988, after finishing his residency at the University of Washington, he returned to the Bethesda campus as an NIAMS rheumatology fellow.“Mark faced adversity with bravery, humility and kindness, continuing to be a great teacher even as he dealt with his own illness,”

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Joint-Specific Cell Differences Suggest the Need for Tailored Therapies

A new study, funded in part by the NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), has uncovered differences in key cellular processes between knee and hip joints of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The findings, which appeared in the journal, Nature Communications, suggest that tailoring RA medications to the affected joints in each individual could improve effectiveness and bring greater relief from symptoms. RA is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system, which normally protects the body, mistakenly attacks the joints, causing inflammation and pain. If unchecked, the disease can erode the cartilage and bone

Engineered T Cells Alleviate Autoimmune Skin Disease in Mice

A new study, funded in part by the NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), has shown that engineered T cells can destroy antibody-producing cells that underlie a rare autoimmune disorder of the skin. The findings, which appeared in the journal Science, offer a new strategy for treating the disease, pemphigus vulgaris (PV), and possibly certain other autoimmune conditions as well. PV occurs when the immune system, which normally protects the body, attacks normal proteins that link cells to one another in the skin’s outer layer. Without these tethers, the cells separate, resulting in chronic blistering

Showcasing NIAMS Research in Action for Key Stakeholders

Dear Colleagues: A key part of the NIAMS mission is keeping our stakeholders informed of the accomplishments made possible through the investment of the American peoples’ tax dollars in biomedical research, and how that research is improving the lives of people living with diseases and conditions of the bones, joints, muscles and skin. NIAMS interacts with multiple groups, including investigators and grantees, and professional and voluntary organizations that represent the interests of scientists, medical practitioners and patients. Another important group that we interact with frequently is Congressional staff. Individual policymakers often approach the Institute when they need specific information about
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