As you well know, almost every household in America is affected in some way by diseases of the bones, joints, muscles, and skin, which are under the purview of the NIAMS mission. These conditions change the lives of people of all ages, racial and ethnic populations, and economic strata, and are often chronic in nature.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the NIAMS are committed to improving patients’ lives through discovery. In the 26 years that the Institute has been in existence, many exciting discoveries have resulted from our investments in biomedical research. The dissemination of these scientific advances to researchers, healthcare providers, policymakers, patients and the public is critical to maximize their impact.
We cannot connect the research breakthroughs with the people they benefit on our own. That is why we partner with groups such as the NIAMS Coalition. The Coalition is a consortium of more than 70 professional and voluntary organizations concerned with the Institute’s programs. The members have been tremendous supporters of the NIAMS and the NIH by serving as our collaborators, and representing the patients and professionals for whom we work. It is a priority of the NIAMS to partner with the Coalition to share the latest research findings and related developments, and to foster dialogue that focuses on identifying opportunities for NIAMS-funded research.
Because of the important role the Coalition plays, we aim to involve its members in regular activities that the Institute sponsors, such as annual scientific retreats and roundtable discussions, where we address research needs and opportunities across the spectrum of diseases that we study. In addition, Coalition members often serve on the NIAMS Advisory Council, a congressionally mandated, second tier of the NIH peer review system, comprised of scientific and lay members who have expertise in the mission areas of the Institute. The NIAMS Advisory Council helps to inform the decision-making process and to shape new research initiatives.
The NIAMS regularly collaborates with the Coalition on a variety of other activities that serve key constituents and help advance the NIAMS mission. Some of these interactions include:
- Information dissemination activities
- Teleconferences between Coalition members and NIAMS and NIH senior staff
- Multicultural outreach efforts
- Congressional briefings and special events
- Patient visits to the NIH campus
- Coalition Outreach and Education Day
The NIAMS Coalition Outreach and Education Day provides a forum for the Coalition members to share best practices on the importance of connecting science to the public, while gaining a better understanding of how the NIH and the NIAMS function. In addition, the NIAMS hosts visits with Coalition members to our facilities on the NIH campus, to give them and their patient advocates a first-hand experience of how biomedical research is conducted.
We appreciate the involvement of the NIAMS Coalition and its members in our activities, and look forward to continued collaborations in the future.
At the end of the day, our research advances, training programs, and information dissemination efforts all belong to you, for whom we serve as stewards of taxpayer dollars and leaders in biomedical research.
Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Institutes of Health