June 27, 2018
Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.
Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.

Dear Colleagues:

At our Advisory council meeting in February, I presented a plan to restructure the NIAMS Extramural Research Program into a single Division of Extramural Research. The new arrangement will further our long-standing goals of

  • Investing in the best science,
  • Enabling a robust and thriving investigator community, and
  • Being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars.

We have restructured our 17 research programs into five topical scientific teams and one special programs team that oversees small business awards, conference grants, and training programs. The Division also includes the Office of Extramural Operations that coordinates essential Institute activities such as clinical trials oversight, grants management, and the scientific review of grant applications.

We believe the new structure will allow our outstanding program staff to work more closely with one another and be more responsive to the initiatives we support. Our new internal structure will facilitate greater sharing of ideas and projects to better reflect the increased emphasis in team science in the research community.

I would like to share some additional details about the restructuring, including some staffing changes in our Extramural Program, the composition of our topical scientific teams, and scientific positions that we will be seeking to fill in the coming months.

Staffing Changes

Dr. Susana Serrate-Sztein, the Director of our former Division of Skin and Rheumatic Diseases, is our Institute’s first Associate Director for Strategic Initiatives. This new function within the Office of the Director entails leading and coordinating several existing and new trans-NIH initiatives and overseeing the evaluation of high profile strategic activities.

Dr. Joan McGowan, who led the former Division of Musculoskeletal Diseases, retired this spring after three decades of Federal service.

Dr. Gayle Lester Dr. Gayle Lester is Acting Director of the new Division of Extramural Research while we conduct a nationwide search for outstanding candidates to lead this Division. Dr. Lester is well known to the rheumatology, orthopaedic, and bone diseases communities due to her leadership of the NIH Osteoarthritis Initiative and the Foundation for NIH’s Bone Quality Initiative. She was Professor of Orthopaedics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before joining NIAMS in 2001.


Ms. Melinda NelsonMs. Melinda Nelson, who most recently served as the Acting Director of the former Division of Extramural Research Activities, is leading the Office of Extramural Operations. Ms. Nelson joined the NIH in 1977, and has served as the Chief Grants Management Officer of NIAMS since 2000.


Topical Scientific Teams

Every NIAMS grant is assigned to one of 17 research programs, each led by an extramural program director who is responsible for the programmatic, scientific, and technical aspects of a grant. These programs have remained the same under our new Division of Extramural Research but are grouped into five topical scientific teams:

  • Bone Biology and Bone Diseases Team
    • Osteoporosis and Metabolic Diseases of Bone Program
    • Rare Diseases and Integrated Physiology of Bone Program
  • Joint Biology, Diseases, and Orthopaedics Team
    • Cartilage and Connective Tissue Program
    • Clinical Research and Diagnostic Tools for Osteoarthritis and Bone Quality Program
    • Musculoskeletal Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Program
    • Orthopaedic Research Program
  • Muscle Biology and Diseases Team
    • Muscle Development and Physiology Program
    • Muscle Disorders and Therapies Program
  • Skin Biology and Diseases Team
    • Extracellular Matrix Biology and Diseases Program
    • Immunobiology and Immune Diseases of Skin Program
    • Keratinocyte Biology and Diseases Program
    • Skin Repair, Regeneration, and Pigmentation Program
  • Systemic Rheumatic and Autoimmune Diseases Team
    • Arthritis Biology Program
    • Rheumatic Diseases Biopsychosocial Research Program
    • Rheumatic Diseases Clinical Program
    • Rheumatic Diseases Genetics and Translational Research Program
    • Systemic Autoimmune Disease Biology Program

Recruiting for Program Directors

Many of you know first-hand how committed our NIAMS extramural program directors are to the arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases research and patient communities.  We will be looking for additional Program Directors, Medical Officers, and Program Analysts to join several of our outstanding teams in the months ahead. These positions will be posted on the USAJOBS website.

We hope you will pass this message to prospective candidates and encourage them to contact us at 301-594-5055 for more information about career opportunities in the NIAMS Extramural Research Program.

Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Institutes of Health

Last Reviewed: 06/27/2018