National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Embargoed for Release
Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Contact: Liz Freedman 
Office of Communications 
and Public Liaison 
(301) 496-8190

Recruitment has begun for the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI), a public-private partnership between the National Institutes of Health and industry that funds a multisite contract to create a resource to hasten discovery of biological markers for osteoarthritis (OA).

Men and women age 45 and older at risk for developing OA and those with early disease are eligible to participate. After an initial screening, four centers around the United States plan to each enroll and follow 1,250 adults for five years (total enrollment of 5,000). Biological specimens (blood, urine, DNA), images (X-rays and magnetic resonance scans) and clinical data will be collected annually.

Biological markers-physical signs or biological substances that indicate changes in bone or cartilage-are critical in diagnosing and monitoring OA and developing new treatments. Ultimately, results from the OAI may enable doctors to use biological markers to help identify people at risk for OA and people with OA at risk for disease progression. The markers could also help doctors assess the effectiveness of treatments.

The four clinical centers, selected in the summer of 2002, include the University of Maryland School of Medicine/Johns Hopkins University, the Ohio State University Medical Center, the University of Pittsburgh and the Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island/Brown University. A data coordinating center at the University of California, San Francisco oversees the study conduct and will manage the resulting data. The Ohio State University and University of Pittsburgh centers enrolled their first participants the week of February 23, and centers in Maryland and Rhode Island will begin enrollment in late March and early April.

The clinical centers may be contacted at:

  • Ms. Raushanah Kareem 
    University of Maryland 
    10 South Pine Street, Room 8-34, MSTF 
    Baltimore, MD 21201 
    (410) 706-5791 or (866) 565-KNEE (toll free)
  • Osteoarthritis Initiative 
    The Ohio State University 
    198 McCampbell Hall 
    1581 Dodd Drive 
    Columbus, OH 43210 
    (614) 688-3563 or (800) 251-1175 (toll free)
  • Study Office/GSPH 
    University of Pittsburgh 
    4200 Fifth Avenue 
    Pittsburgh, PA 15213-9910 
    (800) 872-3653 (toll free)
  • Osteoarthritis Initiative 
    Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island/Brown University 
    ATTN: Doris Moore 
    111 Brewster Street, CPCP Building, 2nd Floor 
    Pawtucket, RI 02860 
    (800) 877-3347 (toll free)

Osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition whose hallmarks are joint pain and limited movement resulting from progressive loss of cartilage, is the most common type of arthritis, especially among older people. It can occur in any joint, but most often affects the hands, knees, hips or spine. There are currently no treatments, other than surgical joint replacement, that significantly change the course of this joint disease, and clinical trials for new therapies are long, difficult and expensive.

The OAI is a federal contract funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), National Institute on Aging (NIA), Office of Research on Women's Health, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities and National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, all part of the Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health. Private funding partners include Merck Research Laboratories; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; and Pfizer Inc. Private sector funding for the OAI is being managed by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.

For information on the OAI, visit The OAI: A Knee Health Study at For general questions, visit The NIAMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison (301-496-8190) or the NIA Communications Office (301-496-1752) can also be contacted for information.


The mission of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), a part of the Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health, is to support research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases, the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research, and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases. For more information about NIAMS, call the information clearinghouse at (301) 495-4484 or (877) 22-NIAMS (free call) or visit the NIAMS Web site at

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