May 21, 2015


Letter from Dr. Stephen I. Katz: An Update on the NIH Initiative to Enhance Research Rigor and Reproducibility

 Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.

Dear Colleagues,

In October 2013, Lawrence Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., Principal Deputy Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), introduced a new NIH initiative aimed at improving research reproducibility and transparency. The effort is a response to widespread news highlighting the importance of unbiased experiments and reproducible results. Dr. Tabak called for broad public participation in the initiative. Since then, much has progressed with the initiative.

Read more.

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


Potential Biomarker for Treatment Response in Vasculitis Patients Identified (With Video)

Peter Grayson

Scientists have discovered a potential biomarker for predicting which patients with a disease known as ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV) are more likely to respond to treatment. The study was conducted by researchers at the NIAMS, in collaboration with the Immune Tolerance Network (sponsored by the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)) and Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium. The study was published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology.

Image: NIAMS researcher Peter Grayson, M.D., M.Sc., discusses ANCA-associated vasculitis.

Bioengineered Compound May Aid in Treating Osteoarthritic Joints

xray joints

A bioengineered molecule designed to bind together key components found in the fluid that surrounds joint areas may improve lubrication and minimize friction. This could potentially slow the degeneration of cartilage tissue that occurs in knee osteoarthritis, according to a study conducted in rats and funded in part by the NIAMS. The study was published in Nature Materials.

Image: X-ray of a knee joint.

Protein Linked to Dermatomyositis Found to Have Role In Regenerating Muscle: Findings Offer New Insights Into Disease Mechanism

muscle fibers

Many people with a rare muscle disease called dermatomyositis carry antibodies to a protein called T1F1γ, but the protein’s role in normal and diseased muscle has been elusive. Now, a study led by investigators at the NIAMS provides some insight by showing that T1F1γ has a role in muscle regeneration. The findings, which appeared in Arthritis and Rheumatology, suggest that an autoimmune attack on T1F1γ may contribute to the muscle inflammation that characterizes the disease.

Image: Regenerating muscle fibers (red) produce high levels of nuclear T1F1γ. Photo credit: Andrew L. Mammen, M.D., Ph.D.

NIAMS Division Director Presents at Congressional Briefing on Rare Bone Diseases

Dr. Joan McGowan (left) presents at a congressional briefing sponsored by the Rare Bone Diseases Advocacy Alliance. Also pictured (from left): Dr. Jay Shapiro, Tracy Hart and Jack Kelly.

On March 18, 2015, Joan McGowan, Ph.D., Director of the NIAMS Division of Musculoskeletal Diseases, presented during a congressional briefing on rare bone diseases. She introduced the audience to the NIH and the NIAMS’ work on rare bone diseases. She also shared recent scientific advances that may lead to novel treatments. The briefing was sponsored by the Rare Bone Diseases Advocacy Alliance and moderated by Tracy Hart, CEO of the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation.

Image: Dr. Joan McGowan (left) presents at a congressional briefing sponsored by the Rare Bone Diseases Advocacy Alliance. Also pictured (from left): Dr. Jay Shapiro, Tracy Hart and Jack Kelly.

Updated NIH Data Science Website

The updated NIH Data Science website includes sections about the NIH-wide data science community, the Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) program and the Commons, as well as information about the Associate Director for Data Science office. It is also home to the Input | Output blog and incorporates a calendar for data science related events.

NIH Funds Nine Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostics Projects: Investigators To Develop Tools To Detect Hospital-Associated Pathogens

The NIAID has awarded more than $11 million in first-year funding for nine research projects supporting enhanced diagnostics to rapidly detect antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. The awardee institutions will develop tools to identify certain pathogens that frequently cause infections in health care settings and, specifically, those that are resistant to most antimicrobials. Advancing the development of rapid and innovative diagnostic tests for identifying and characterizing resistant bacteria is a key goal of the President’s recent National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria [PDF - 442 KB].

Connecting the What, When, Why and How of NIH Peer Review

Peer review is the keystone of the scientific process. The updated peer review website, Guidance for Reviewers, connects the what, when, why and how of NIH’s peer review process.

Looking at Recent Data on R21 and R01-Equivalent Grants

One topic of frequent interest to NIH leadership is how R01-equivalent awards compare to other research grant awards. The R01 is the standard mainstay of NIH’s research portfolio, and the oldest grant mechanism in use by the NIH.

NIH Director’s Blog

Of Microbes, Molecules and Maps

bacteria and acquired molecules on the skin of healthy man

These glow-in-the-dark images may look like a 1960’s rock album cover, but they’re actually a reflection of some way cool science. Here are maps showing the diversity of bacteria (top) and “acquired” molecules (bottom) on the skin of a healthy man. Blue indicates areas of least diversity; green/yellow, medium; and orange/red, the greatest.

Photo credit: Bouslimani et al., PNAS


Knocking Out Melanoma: Does This Triple Combo Have What It Takes?

knock them out

It would be great if we could knock out cancer with a single punch. But the more we learn about cancer’s molecular complexities and the immune system’s response to tumors, the more it appears that we may need a precise combination of blows to defeat a patient’s cancer permanently, with no need for a later rematch. One cancer that provides us with a ringside seat on the powerful potential—and tough challenges—of targeted combination therapy is melanoma, especially the approximately 50% of advanced tumors with a specific “driver” mutation in the BRAF gene.

Other Federal News

Are Some Cosmetics Promising Too Much?

Cosmetics promises

Americans spend a lot of money on creams, lotions and other cosmetics that promise to improve their skin, hair and even eyelashes. But sometimes those promises go too far. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns cosmetics companies when they make claims about their products that classify them as drugs, not cosmetics. FDA has issued warning letters citing drug claims associated with topical skin care, hair care and eyelash/eyebrow preparations, noted on both product labeling and websites. Some examples of the drug claims cited are acne treatment, dandruff treatment and hair restoration.


FDA Launches “Drug Trials Snapshots” Webpage

“Drug Trials Snapshots” provides consumers with information about who participated in clinical trials that supported the FDA approval of new drugs. Information in these Snapshots highlights whether there were any differences in the benefits and side effects among sex, race and age groups. Drug Trials Snapshots is part of an overall FDA effort to make demographic data more available and transparent. Additional information is available from a recent presentation [PDF - 1.1 MB] by Dr. John Whyte, Director of Professional Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement for the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Professional Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement.

FDA Teams With To Better Serve Consumers

A new partnership between the FDA and will greatly expand the delivery of FDA Consumer Updates, the agency’s primary consumer-oriented publication that provides information about the safe use of FDA-regulated products.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Technology Assessment Program: Pain Management Injection Therapies for Low Back Pain

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Technology Assessment Program provides technology assessments for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). These technology assessments are used by CMS to inform its national coverage decisions for the Medicare program as well as provide information to Medicare carriers. The program recently published a new report, Pain Management Injection Therapies for Low Back Pain [PDF - 1.8 MB].


Spotlight on Scientific Imagery: Genetically Engineered Fluorescent Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

stem cells

This image shows induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which are adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell-like state by being forced to express genes and factors important for maintaining the defining properties of embryonic stem cells. These iPS cells were reprogrammed from the fibroblasts of a healthy patient. This image is from the lab of former NIAMS researcher Mahendra Rao, M.D., Ph.D., and is in the public domain.

National Health Observances and Related NIAMS Resources

The NIAMS National Multicultural Outreach Initiative webpage highlights upcoming national health observances and related NIAMS resources. June is National Scleroderma Awareness Month.

Consejos sobre la artritis (Arthritis Advice) Fact Sheet

The NIH’s National Institute on Aging (NIA) has an Arthritis Advice fact sheet available in Spanish and English. It discusses different types of arthritis, symptoms, treatments and ways to control joint pain. For instance, keys to living with arthritis include exercise; getting enough rest; eating a healthy, well-balanced diet; and learning the right way to use and protect your joints.

NIHSeniorHealth: Skin Care and Aging

old lady applying skin

Your skin changes as you age. It becomes thinner, loses fat and no longer looks as plump and smooth as it once did. But there are things you can do protect your skin and make it feel and look better.


NIH Research Matters

NIH Research Matters is a review of NIH research from the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, Office of the Director, NIH.

Scientists Discover Antibiotic Mechanism

The widespread use of antibiotics in modern society has led to a sharp rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. As a result, much research has focused on creating new compounds to fight these bacteria. New insights from the investigation of borrelidin may help guide scientists in the design of improved, more selective drugs.

How Vitamin D May Affect Heart Disease, Diabetes

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Chronic inflammation plays a role in both of these diseases, and most immune cells have receptors for vitamin D. Binding of vitamin D to its receptor regulates many key processes inside cells. However, the mechanisms connecting activation of the immune system with these diseases aren’t well understood.

Insights Into Energy-Burning Fat Cells

fat cells

Humans have two main types of fat: white and brown. White fat, which tends to be located under the skin and around internal organs, stores excess calories. Too much white fat, a characteristic of obesity, increases the risk of several metabolic disorders. Brown fat, in contrast, burns energy to create heat and help maintain body temperature. Brown fat is present in mammals, including mice and human infants. It’s activated by cold temperatures and other triggers.

Image: White fat (top) and brown fat (bottom). Darker color is due to presence of energy-generating mitochondria. Image courtesy of the researchers.


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.


June NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting

The NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting will be held June 16, 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. 

NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting


2015 NIH Pain Consortium Symposium—Advances in Pain Research: Looking Back and to the Future

May 26–27, 2015
NIH Campus, Natcher Auditorium (Building 45)
Cost: Free
View draft agenda
Registration is available here.

The Children's Inn at NIH 25th Anniversary Symposium

Children's Inn 25th Anniversary Symposium

Thursday, June 18, 2015
2:00–5:30 p.m.
NIH Campus, Building 10, Masur Auditorium
Cost: Free
Registration is available here.
The event will be available by videocast.

The Children’s Inn 25th Anniversary Symposium will highlight the history of The Children’s Inn at the NIH, especially The Inn’s role in advancing medical research. NIH physicians and families will share their stories and the fascinating scientific advances that have been made in the treatment of their diseases. The event will also look ahead to the future of The Inn and medical discovery. NIAMS investigator Raphaela Goldbach-Mansky, M.D., will speak at the event.

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 Lecture:

June 3, 2015
James P. Allison, Ph.D., M.D., Anderson Cancer Center
“Targeting Immune Checkpoints in Cancer Therapy: New Insights and Opportunities”

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. You can watch an event at your convenience as an on-demand video or a downloadable podcast. Most events are available to all; a few are broadcast for the NIH or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and are marked as such. See additional details on events.


NIAMS Clinical Trial Implementation Cooperative Agreement (U01)

Letter of Intent Receipt Dates: 30 days before the application due date
Application Receipt Dates: July 1, 2015, November 2, 2015, and March 1, 2016

NIAMS Clinical Trial Planning Cooperative Agreement (U34)

Letter of Intent Receipt Dates: 30 days before the application due date
Application Receipt Dates: July 1, 2015, November 2, 2015, and March 1, 2016


Undiagnosed Diseases Gene Function Research (R21)

Letter of Intent Receipt Date: May 24, 2015
Application Receipt Date: June 24, 2015


Notice for Use of Cloud Computing Services for Storage and Analysis of Controlled-Access Data Subject to the NIH Genomic Data Sharing (GDS) Policy


Notice of Potential Delays to NIH Issuing Awards in May 2015


Racial and Ethnic Categories and Definitions for NIH Diversity Programs and for Other Reporting Purposes


Reporting Publications in the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR)


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: 05/21/2015