October 26, 2017


Guest Director's Letter From Dr. David M. Murray: Advancing Prevention Research at the NIH

Dear Colleagues,

Prevention has been an important part of the mission of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 1798, when the NIH began as the Marine Hospital Service established to screen crew members and passengers arriving in the United States to prevent epidemics of yellow fever and cholera. Prevention stands today as one of three primary targets in the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for 2016-20, along with research in fundamental science and on treatments and cures.

Read more.

Image: David M. Murray, Ph.D., Director, NIH Office of Disease Prevention.


NIH Awards $15 Million To Support Development of 3-D Human Tissue Models To Test Drugs Before Clinical Trials

“Tissue chips” support living cells and human tissues to mimic the complex biological functions of human organs and systems, and provide a new way to test potential drug efficacy. The NIAMS is a partner in supporting three of the 13 recently announced Tissue Chip for Disease Modeling and Efficacy Testing awards.

Image: This lung-on-a-chip serves as an accurate model of human lungs to test for drug safety and efficacy.

Photo credit: Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University.

NIH’s Certificates of Confidentiality Policy Enhances Confidentiality of Participants Enrolled in Clinical Research Studies

The NIH announced an updated Certificate of Confidentiality (CoC) policy (NOT-OD-17-109), which went into effect on October 1, 2017. The new policy both enhances the privacy protections of individuals participating in NIH-funded research studies and eliminates the need for NIH-funded investigators to apply for a CoC.

Continuing To Clarify the NIH Definition of a Clinical Trial

In August 2017, the NIH released some case studies and FAQs to help clarify for the research community whether their human subjects research study meets the NIH definition of a clinical trial. Follow-on questions and suggestions from the community helped the NIH refine both the FAQs and the case studies.

NIH Announces Centers for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Research

The NIH awarded four grants to establish a coordinated scientific research effort on myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). The grants will be managed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) with support from the NIAMS and other NIH Institutes and Centers that are part of the Trans-NIH ME/CFS Working Group.

Image: Colorized scanning electron micrograph of a B cell from a human donor.

Photo credit: NIAID.

Bone-Derived Hormone Curbs Appetite and Weight Gain in Mice

A study funded in part by the NIAMS revealed that lipocalin 2, a hormone produced by bones, suppresses appetite and weight gain in mice. The findings underscore the diversity of roles played by the skeleton in the body and its importance in controlling energy metabolism. The results may lead to new approaches for treating obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders.

Image: Lipocalin 2, a hormone triggered by feeding and produced by osteoblasts, acts on neurons in the hypothalamus to curb appetite and reduce food intake.

Photo credit: Stavroula Kousteni, Ph.D., Columbia University Medical Center.

Long-Term Benefit of Steroid Injections for Knee Osteoarthritis Challenged

Among people with osteoarthritic knees, repeated steroid injections over two years brought no long-term improvement in pain, according to a study funded in part by the NIAMS. Rather than showing any benefit, the results revealed that the injections sped the loss of the cartilage that cushions the knee joint.

Image: Knee cartilage of patient with osteoarthritis.

Photo credit: Timothy E. McAlindon, M.D., M.P.H., Tufts Medical Center.

Newly Identified T Cell Subtype Abundant in Joints of Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

In a study funded in part by the NIAMS, researchers identified an immune cell subtype that is prevalent in the joints of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These “T peripheral helper” (Tph) cells have properties that enable them to migrate to inflamed joints and collaborate with other cells to promote an immune attack. The findings provide new insights into the molecular causes of RA and may offer strategies for developing more precise therapies for RA and other autoimmune diseases such as lupus.

Image: Tph cells (blue) stimulate antibody production by B cells (green) in joints of people with RA.

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

Four Named to NIAMS Advisory Council

The NIAMS welcomes four new members to its advisory council. The council serves as the principal advisory body to the NIAMS, the lead federal agency for research on bones, joints, muscles, and skin.
Image: NIAMS Director Stephen Katz, M.D., Ph.D., (c) and Deputy Director Robert Carter, M.D., (r) welcome new members to the Institute’s council. They are (from l) Michael Yaszemski, M.D., Ph.D., Judith James, M.D., Ph.D., Rosemary Markoff, and Michael Econs, M.D., Ph.D.
Photo credit: NIH Medical Arts.

2017 NIAMS Summer Interns Reflect on Their Experiences

The NIAMS Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research offers students the opportunity to gain valuable experience working with leading biomedical researchers in the NIAMS’ Intramural Research Program. Read about this year’s summer interns and their experiences, as described in their own words. In addition, find out about applying to the 2018 Summer Internship Program. Applications are accepted from November 15, 2017, to March 1, 2018.

Image: 2017 summer students with Robert Walker, Ph.D., Chief of the NIAMS Career Development and Outreach Branch (center, back row), and Stephanie Mathews, Ph.D., Scientific Program Manager (right, back row).

Photo credit: NIH Medical Arts.

U.S. Department of Defense Lupus Research Program Announcements

The U.S. Department of Defense has published two funding opportunities for lupus research (a Concept Award and an Impact Award) as part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs’ Lupus Research Program.

Expanded Access: FDA Describes Efforts To Ease Application Process

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director, Scott Gottlieb, M.D., discusses patient access to investigational new treatments in the Expanded Access (Compassionate Use) Program, highlighting two changes: A simplified physician request form and a streamlined Institutional Review Board approval process.

FDA Awards 15 Grants for Clinical Trials To Stimulate Product Development for Rare Diseases

The FDA awarded 15 new clinical trial research grants totaling more than $22 million over the next four years to boost the development of products for patients with rare diseases. One of the awards is to Columbia University Medical Center (New York), Elizabeth Shane, M.D., for “Phase 2 Study of Teriparatide for the Treatment of Idiopathic Osteoporosis in Premenopausal Women”—about $1.9 million over four years.

FDA Awards Six Grants for Natural History Studies in Rare Diseases

The FDA awarded six new research grants for natural history studies in rare diseases. The aim of the research is to inform medical product development by better understanding how specific rare diseases progress over time. Two of the awards are in areas of research supported by the NIAMS:
  • Columbia University Medical Center, Adi Cohen, M.D., Prospective Study in Pregnancy and Lactation-Associated Osteoporosis, approximately $2 million over five years
  • University of Utah, Nicholas Johnson, M.D., Prospective Study in Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 To Determine Biomarkers and Clinical Endpoints, approximately $2 million over five years

CDC: Lupus Among Asians and Hispanics

Studies supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that analyzed two population-based registries, the Manhattan Lupus Surveillance Program and the California Lupus Surveillance Project, determined that Asian/Pacific Islander women and Hispanic women are more likely to be affected by systemic lupus erythematosus compared with white women. The studies also confirmed an increase in lupus diagnoses among African American women and showed that lupus-related kidney disease (lupus nephritis) is more common among Asians and Hispanics compared with non-Hispanic whites.

Photo credit: CDC.

Documentary on NIH’s Building 10—First in Human—Available on Demand

The Discovery Channel documentary, First in Human, featured the NIH Clinical Center, the world’s largest hospital dedicated to clinical research. It first aired in August 2017 and showed the real-life experiences of patients, their families, doctors, researchers, staff and caregivers at the NIH Clinical Center. The three-part documentary is now available on demand.

NCCIH: Mind and Body Practices for Fibromyalgia

The September Clinical Digest from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) provides summaries of current research on various mind and body practices for fibromyalgia, as well as additional resources such as Clinical Practice Guidelines, Scientific Literature, For Your Patients and Fibromyalgia: In Depth.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.


Spotlight on Scientific Imagery: Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1: Procapsid and Mature Capsid

The image on the left is the procapsid (outer protein shell) of the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1), the virus that causes cold sores. The image on the right is the mature capsid of the same virus. The major capsid proteins form hexons (lighter blue) and pentons (darker blue) connected by triplexes (green). As the virus matures, the holes in the procapsid close to stabilize the mature capsid. Understanding this process can help researchers determine how the virus infects cells and may lead to new treatments.

Photo credit: Bernard Heymann, Ph.D., NIAMS Laboratory of Structural Biology Research, 2003.

Updated NIH Pain Websites: NIH Pain Consortium and Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee Websites

The NIH Pain Consortium website and the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee website have been updated.

New information on the NIH Pain Consortium website includes several Pain Awareness Month features such as the NIH Directors' Videos on Pain, Q&A With Mr. George Carter: Sickle Cell Patient and Advocate, and new health information. Just for fun, you might want to try:

New information on the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee website includes:

Follow the NIH Pain Consortium on Twitter: @NIHPainResearch

We invite you to subscribe to the NIAMS Community Outreach Bulletin, which is an online digest designed to inform community advocates and health professionals about resources for diverse audiences on conditions of the bones, joints, muscles and skin and ways to stay healthy. The NIAMS also publishes the Honoring Health: Resources for American Indians and Alaska Natives e-newsletter, which is distributed three times per year and highlights a different health topic for each issue, along with helpful resources for community members and health professionals.


Sex as a Biological Variable Workshop

October 2627, 2017
NIH Campus, Bethesda, Maryland
Cost: Free
Details and registration information available here.

NIH Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series

The NIH’s Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series offers weekly lectures every Wednesday at 3 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Building 10, NIH Campus. Renowned scientists from around the globe present research on a variety of topics. The lectures are Continuing Medical Education-certified, open to the public and available live via webcast.
Upcoming Lectures:
November 1, 2017
Annual William Paul Lecture
Thomas A. Waldmann, M.D., National Cancer Institute
The Two Faces of the IL-15- Janus Kinase-Stat System: Implications for the Immunotherapy of Autoimmune Diseases and Cancer
November 14, 2017
Rob Knight, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
Establishing Causality in Microbiome Studies

NIH Science Lectures and Events Available via Internet

The NIH hosts a number of science seminars and events that are available online through real-time streaming video (videocast). The NIH calendar notes these videocast events with a video icon  .

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