July 23, 2015


Letter From Dr. Stephen I. Katz: Investing in the Early Stages of the Scientific Pipeline

 Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.

Dear Colleagues,

Take a moment to remember the earliest stage of your career. Remember a time when someone pointed you toward an opportunity to pursue a new research direction or to get support to continue your work. This month’s letter focuses on similar opportunities and programs for today’s trainees, fellows and early-stage investigators.

Read more.

Image: Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.


Protein’s Role in Rheumatoid Arthritis-Induced Bone Loss Revealed


Investigators supported in part by the NIAMS have shown how a protein called RBP-J controls a pathway that promotes bone degradation, a common complication of rheumatoid arthritis. The study also revealed that decreased levels of RBP-J are linked to the disease and could partly underlie the associated bone loss. The findings, which appeared in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggest that targeting the RBP-J pathway could be an effective strategy for preserving bone in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Image: Inflammation triggers the formation of osteoclasts (red) and erosion of bone in a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis. Photo credit: Baohong Zhao, Ph.D., Cornell University.

New Resource Launched for American Indians and Alaska Natives

This month, Honoring Health: Resources for American Indians and Alaska Natives, a quarterly e-newsletter featuring health and wellness information, was launched. Each issue will highlight a different health topic along with helpful resources for community members and health professionals. The e-newsletter is brought to you by the NIH, the Administration for Community Living, and the Indian Health Service. Subscribe now.

NIH Requests Comment on Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit feedback from stakeholders on the draft version of the “Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO).” An online form is available for submitting comments and suggestions, which are due by August 14. The program is detailed in the text of the RFI. In short, the NIH Director, following the advice of an expert review group, decided to close the National Children’s Study (NCS) in December 2014. NIH leadership and staff identified opportunities that were consistent with the NCS to make use of NCS funds appropriated for FY 2015. These opportunities were announced, and applications are currently under review. The FY 2016 program aims to provide the flexibility and opportunity to investigate key questions of interest at the intersection of environmental health and pediatric research.

NIH Researchers Pilot Predictive Medicine by Studying Healthy People’s DNA

A study by NIH researchers has turned traditional genomics research on its head. Instead of trying to find a mutation in the genomic sequence of a person with a genetic disease, they sequenced the genomes of healthy participants, then analyzed the data to find “putative,” or presumed, mutations that would almost certainly lead to a genetic condition.

The Faces of the Precision Medicine Initiative

Faces of PMI

The NIH has launched a video series to explain the significance of the Precision Medicine Initiative, launched by President Obama on January 30, 2015. In a related effort to answer questions and inform the public, the NIH created a Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Feedback blog.


Health Disparities in U.S. Still Persist, According to Report

According to a special issue of the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), significant disparities in the burden of disease and illness experienced by different groups persist. The articles highlight the need for greater understanding of the relationship among social, cultural, biological, behavioral, economic and neighborhood (place) factors when addressing health disparities.

NIH Approves Strategic Vision To Transform National Library of Medicine

NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., approved a federal report [PDF - 163 KB] that lays out the long-term scientific vision for the NIH’s National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world’s largest biomedical library. This vision calls for the NIH to position the NLM as a unifying force in biomedicine that promotes and accelerates knowledge generation, dissemination and understanding in the United States and internationally.

Panel Urges Innovative Biomedical Research To Improve Diagnosis and Treatment of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)

An independent panel convened by the NIH concluded that ME/CFS is a complex, multifaceted disorder characterized by extreme fatigue and many other symptoms (including impairment of memory or concentration, post-exertional malaise and pain), which can result in disability and the loss of employment and family support. Furthermore, limited knowledge, insufficient research funding and a lack of diagnostic tools diminish a clinician’s ability to provide optimal care. This leaves patients burdened with the difficult task of finding a health care provider who can correctly diagnose ME/CFS.

Listening to Our Stakeholders on Considering Sex as a Biological Variable

One year ago, the NIH announced a plan to adopt a new policy requiring a deliberate approach to the consideration of sex as a biological variable in preclinical research. (Read the article, co-authored by Janine Clayton, Director of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health and NIH Director Francis Collins, here.) Since then, we have been working diligently and collaboratively inside and outside the NIH to craft meaningful policy that promotes the best science.

Burden of Disease and NIH Funding Priorities

Recently, many voices have asked how the NIH considers public health needs when setting funding priorities. The quick answer is that public health needs are a critical factor in the NIH’s decision making—in addition to scientific merit, portfolio balance and budgetary considerations. Moreover, the NIH has recently enhanced its reporting on research spending by disease and affected populations.

LabTV: Highlighting Careers in Science

screenshot of Peter Grayson

For the past year, LabTV has been working with the NIH to produce a series of mini-documentary videos featuring promising young researchers at the NIH. This month, we are introducing Peter C. Grayson, M.D., M.Sc., a Clinical Fellow in the NIAMS Systemic Autoimmunity Branch.


NIH Director’s Blog

LabTV: Curious About Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis

screenshot of Avery White

If you like sports and you like science, I think you’ll enjoy meeting Avery White, an undergraduate studying biomedical engineering at the University of Delaware in Newark. In this LabTV profile, we catch up with Ms. White as she conducts basic research that may help us better understand—and possibly prevent—the painful osteoarthritis that often pops up years after knee injuries from sports and other activities.

Precision Oncology: Creating a Genomic Guide for Melanoma Therapy

human malignant melanoma cell

It’s still the case in most medical care systems that cancers are classified mainly by the type of tissue or part of the body in which they arose—lung, brain, breast, colon, pancreas and so on. But a radical change is underway. Thanks to advances in scientific knowledge and DNA sequencing technology, researchers are identifying the molecular fingerprints of various cancers and using them to divide cancer’s once-broad categories into far more precise types and subtypes. They are also discovering that cancers that arise in totally different parts of the body can sometimes have a lot in common. Not only can molecular analysis refine diagnosis and provide new insights into what’s driving the growth of a specific tumor, it may also point to the treatment strategy with the greatest chance of helping a particular patient.

Image: Human malignant melanoma cell viewed through a fluorescent, laser-scanning confocal microscope. Invasive structures involved in metastasis appear as greenish-yellow dots, while actin (green) and vinculin (red) are components of the cell’s cytoskeleton. Photo credit: Vira V. Artym, Ph.D., National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, NIH.

Other Federal News

Comprehensive Prevention Program Effectively Reduces Falls Among Older People: HHS-Supported Study Tests Falls Intervention Program

Families and physicians have a new tool in the fight against falls—a comprehensive prevention program that reduces both falls and the resulting use of long-term care, such as nursing homes. The prevention program includes clinical in-home assessments of health, physical functioning, falls history, home environment and medications to create customized recommendations. The program was developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

FDA Issues Draft Guidance on Developing Drugs for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a draft guidance for industry, “Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Related Dystrophinopathies: Developing Drugs for Treatment” [PDF - 375 KB], to assist drug companies in the clinical development of drugs for the treatment of X-linked Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and related diseases, including Becker muscular dystrophy, DMD-associated dilated cardiomyopathy and symptomatic carrier states in females. For the first time, the development of FDA guidance was preceded by the submission of a proposed draft guidance independently prepared by an advocacy group. To submit comments to the FDA, please note instructions on the draft guidance’s cover page. The comment period closes on August 7.

Rates of New Melanomas—Deadly Skin Cancers—Have Doubled Over Last Three Decades: Without Community Skin Cancer Prevention Efforts, Melanoma Rates Will Continue To Climb

screenshot of melanoma factsheet

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that melanoma rates doubled between 1982 and 2011, but comprehensive skin cancer prevention programs could prevent 20 percent of new cases between 2020 and 2030. The full report, “Melanoma Incidence and Mortality Trends and Projections—United States, 1982–2030” is available on the CDC website. The CDC Vital Signs Fact Sheets—visually-appealing, community awareness informational resources—are available in English [PDF - 5.2 MB] and Spanish [PDF - 5 MB].

CDC Report on Arthritis and Quality of Life: People With Arthritis Report More Limited Life Activities and Psychological Distress

elderly people smiling

A CDC study of adults aged 18 years or older reported that having multiple chronic conditions was associated with poorer outcomes for important life domains (i.e., social participation restriction, serious psychological distress and work disability). Having arthritis as one of those multiple chronic conditions made things even worse. Because arthritis is a common condition (affecting more than 1 in 5 adults) and often occurs with other chronic conditions, it is important to highlight the possible role of arthritis when discussing the negative effects of having multiple chronic conditions and the interventions needed to address those impacts.


Spotlight on Scientific Imagery: Microtubules, Part of the Cytoskeleton


Mammalian cells contain protein cables that give the cells structural support against pressure and functional support for the transport of proteins or vesicles. Collectively, these cables are referred to as the cytoskeleton. This image shows one of the components of the cytoskeleton, the microtubules (magenta). They are constantly growing and shrinking. There is a family of proteins positioned at the growing end of the microtubules known as End-Binding (EB) proteins, which play a role in the dynamics of the microtubules. The image shows six cells close together, with EB1 in green. Each cell has a nucleus (dark blue) and a Golgi complex (red), which serves as the hub of protein transport in the cell. This image is part of an effort to understand how microtubules change during muscle formation and are organized in adult muscle. Microtubules play important roles in cell health. For example, we know that microtubule abnormalities are involved in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This image is courtesy of Evelyn Ralston, Ph.D., of the NIAMS Light Imaging Section, and is in the public domain.

NIAMS Intramural Research Program at Work

screenshot of woman

In this new video compilation of the NIAMS Intramural Research Program at Work, NIAMS intramural investigators describe advances and ongoing research. Patients participating in NIAMS clinical studies describe their experiences as well.

The NIAMS Intramural Research Program has an established tradition of excellence, with a strong focus on long-term, high-risk research into the genetics and pathophysiology of human disease, and the development of innovative therapies for a number of serious disorders for which satisfactory treatments previously did not exist.

“Under the Poliscope” - New NIH Science Policy Blog

Under the Poliscope

Dr. Carrie Wolinetz, NIH Associate Director for Science Policy, writes about biomedical research policy issues on her new blog, “Under the Poliscope.” The NIH Office of Science Policy advises the NIH Director on biomedical research policy issues that are of significance to the agency, the research community and the public. It works with stakeholders within and outside of the NIH to develop policies that promote progress in the life sciences.

White House Healthy Self Campaign (Invest in Your “Healthy Self” and Post a #HealthySelfie While You’re At It!)

healthy selfie

The White House, in partnership with the HHS, has launched the “Healthy Self” campaign to encourage healthy lifestyles, promote healthy living and highlight preventive services. That includes healthy eating, leading a tobacco-free and drug-free lifestyle, taking care of emotional and mental well-being and of course—taking advantage of preventive services like vaccinations and recommended cancer screenings that are now offered at no out-of-pocket cost.

NIH News in Health

Read practical health information in NIH News in Health, which is reviewed by the NIH’s medical experts and is based on research conducted either by the NIH’s own scientists or by its grantees at universities and medical schools around the country.

Talking With Your Doctor: Make the Most of Your Appointment

illustration of notepad and pencil

Patients and health care providers share a very personal relationship. Doctors need to know a lot about you, your family and your lifestyle to give you the best medical care. And you need to speak up and share your concerns and questions. Clear and honest communication between you and your physician can help you both make smart choices about your health.


September NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting

The NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting will be held September 8, 2015, in Building 31, 6th Floor, C Wing, Conference Room 6, NIH Campus. A meeting agenda will be posted as soon as it is available. The Council meeting will be available for live viewing via the NIH videocasting service as well.

NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting



PHS 2015-02 Omnibus Solicitation of the NIH, CDC, FDA and ACF for Small Business Innovation Research Grant Applications (Parent SBIR [R43/R44])

Letter of Intent Receipt Dates: Not applicable
Application Receipt Dates: Standard dates apply

PHS 2015-02 Omnibus Solicitation of the NIH for Small Business Technology Transfer Grant Applications (Parent STTR [R41/R42])

Letter of Intent Receipt Dates: Not applicable
Application Receipt Dates: Standard dates apply

Multidisciplinary Studies of HIV/AIDS and Aging (R01)

Letter of Intent Receipt Dates: Not applicable
Application Receipt Dates: Standard AIDS application dates apply

Multidisciplinary Studies of HIV/AIDS and Aging (R03)

Letter of Intent Receipt Date: Not applicable
Application Receipt Dates: Standard AIDS application dates apply

Multidisciplinary Studies of HIV/AIDS and Aging (R21)

Letter of Intent Receipt Date: Not applicable
Application Receipt Dates: Standard AIDS application dates apply


NIH Transformative Research Awards (R01)

Letter of Intent Receipt Date: September 9, 2015
Application Receipt Date: October 9, 2015


HHS Issues PHS 2015-2 SBIR and STTR Omnibus Grant Solicitations


Consideration of Sex as a Biological Variable in NIH-Funded Research


Enhancing Reproducibility Through Rigor and Transparency


Applicant Responsibilities in Maintaining the Integrity of NIH Peer Review


Guidance on Qualifications of IACUC Nonscientific and Nonaffiliated Members


Deadline for Final Reports Required for Grant Closeout


Registration Open for the 2nd NIH Regional Seminar on Program Funding & Grants Administration - San Diego, CA - October 14–16, 2015


If you would like to review information about funding opportunities more frequently than our monthly updates allow, see the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, the primary source for information about NIH funding opportunities. You can also request a weekly Table of Contents from the NIH Guide.
Last Reviewed: 07/23/2015