NIH-funded basic, translational and clinical researchers recently met with NIAMS leadership and staff to discuss research needs and opportunities related to structural, biomechanical and biochemical changes in the intervertebral disc that can lead to chronic neck and back pain. Part of the institute’s scientific planning process, the full-day roundtable addressed topics including the pathological changes that lead to disc degeneration; the development of tools that can distinguish between changes that lead to pain and those that are asymptomatic; and ways in which high-throughput technologies might be used to identify biochemical, imaging and genetic biomarkers of symptomatic disc degeneration and spinal pathology. Participants included NIAMS director Dr. Stephen Katz (front, second from l), deputy director Dr. Robert Carter (front, fourth from l) and staff members Drs. Jim Panagis (back, third from l), Gayle Lester (back, fifth from r), Joan McGowan (front, second from r) and Bernadette Tyree (front, third from r). Dr. Partap Khalsa from NCCIH (back, l) and Dr. Lynda Porter from NINDS (back, second from l) also contributed to the discussion.