Institutes and Research Divisions
National Institute of Arthritis
and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases*
Important Events in NIAMS History
NIAMS Legislative Chronology
Director's of NIAMS
Biographical Sketch of NIAMS Director
- Biochemistry, physical chemistry, and metabolism of normal cartilage and extracellular matrix components.
- Mechanisms of dysregulation of immune function in rheumatic diseases, including development of new immunotherapies,
- Basic and clinical research in rheumatic diseases, including fibromyalgia, with emphasis on the development of therapies to prevent disease onset,
- Basic and clinical studies in osteoarthritis,
- Research in arthritic manifestations of chronic Lyme disease, and
- Inherited connective tissue disorders, including the application of gene therapy approaches.
Epidemiology and Data Systems Programs
The epidemiology program provides an administrative core for efforts to encourage epidemiologic research in the fields of rheumatic, musculoskeletal and skin diseases. Epidemiologic studies of these diseases contribute knowledge related to the prevalence and economic and social burdens from these diseases, studying their natural history, identifying risk factors, and investigating disease etiologies.
The data systems program fosters system-atic acquisition, storage, retrieval, and analysis of information concerning arthritis and skin diseases. Program effort is focused on assuring validity and comparability of data collected in separate institutions and integrating data resources with data needs.
Musculoskeletal Diseases Branch
This program supports studies of the skeleton and associated connective tissues. Broad areas of interest include skeletal development, metabolism, mechanical properties, and responses to injury. Research on osteopor-osis, a disease afflicting many of the Nation's growing population of older people, is a major area of emphasis. Some other diseases and skeletal disorders under investigation are osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic disorder that leads to fragile, easily fractured bones; Paget's disease of bone, which results in irregular bone formation and subsequent deformity; genetic disorders of bone growth and development, such as osteomalacia.
Other studies focus on the causes and treatment of acute and chronic injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive stress injury, and low back pain. The program supports development of technologies with the potential to improve treatment of skeletal disorders and facilitate the repair of trauma in the normal skeleton. These include drugs and nutritional interventions, joint replacement, bone and cartilage trans-plantation, and gene therapy. Sports medicine and musculoskeletal fitness are also areas of special research emphasis.
Research areas support through this branch include:
- Bone diseases
Epidemiology and development of disease
Environmental and genetic risk factors
Treatment, prevention, and diagnosis.
- Bone biology
Mechanisms of bone resorption
Hormone, growth factor, and cytokine effects on bone-resorbing and bone-forming cells
Regulation of bone growth and development
Interactions among proteins, minerals, and cells in bone
Mechanisms of mineralization.
- Orthopedic research
Skeletal architecture and mechanical properties
Mechanisms of fracture repair
Biomaterials, orthopedic devices, joint replacement and repair
Muscle Biology Branch
This program supports researchs on skeletal muscle, its diseases and disorders, and its central role in human physiology and exercise. Topics include the molecular structure of muscle and the molecular mechanisms that produce force and motion. An aim is understanding the alterations in muscle resulting from increased exercise and, conversely, the atrophy that follows immobilization during injury or illness. Specific aims include understanding the molecular structure and assembly of muscle components, including those respons-ible for contraction and regulation of muscle action; the molecular basis of genetic muscle diseases, such as Duchenne/Becker muscular dystrophy, myotonic dystrophy, myotonias, and malignant hyperthermia; genetic pro-cesses of muscle development and assembly; musculoskeletal fitness, metabolism, and adaptive mechanisms; the role of growth factors and hormones; altered metabolism during aging; the effects of therapeutic drugs and abused substances on basic muscle processes; the cellular basis for impaired muscle function in disease; inflammatory muscle diseases and inflammation resulting from exercise or injury; molecular mechanisms of muscle repair and regeneration; and development of more satisfactory methods of treatment and recovery.
Specific research covered by the branch include:
- Muscle physiology
- Structure and function of muscle and of individual muscle proteins
- Mechanisms of muscle contraction and force generation
- Muscle development and specialization
- Musculoskeletal fitness and adaptive biology, including exercise physiology
- Muscle diseases and disorders
- Sports medicine, muscle injury and repair.
NIAID Appropriations -- Grants and Direct Operations
[Amounts in thousands of dollars]
|1Comparable amount. Appropriations for arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases are included in the NIDDK appropriation for FY 1986.
Skin Diseases Branch
Research studies supported by this program are increasing understanding of the mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal skin function and development. Research investigations are conducted on the molecular structures of various skin cells, the immunologic functions of the skin in normal and disease conditions, and the development of diagnostic tests and effective therapies for an array of skin diseases that can cause discomfort, disfigurement, and/or chronic disability. The range of skin diseases include keratinizing disorders such as psoriasis and ichthyosis atopic dermatitis and other chronic inflammatory skin disorders blistering diseases such as epidermolysis bullosa and pemphigus and disorders of pigmentation such as vitiligo and disorders of the hair and nails.
Basic science and disease areas in skin research include:
- Metabolic studies of skin
- Immunologically mediated skin disorders
- Disorders or keratinization, pigmentation, and hair growth
- Photobiology, photoallery, and phototoxic reactions
- Bullous diseases and the basement membrane of skin
- Acne and physiologic activity of sebaceous glands
- Skin manifestations of diffuse connective tissue disorders
- Heritable connective tissue diseases
- Skin manifestations of HIV infection and AIDS.
The NIAMS currently supports three types of research centers programs: Multipurpose Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases Centers, Specialized Centers of Research, and Skin Diseases Research Centers.
The Multipurpose Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases Centers were established in the National Arthritis Act of 1974. The purpose of these centers, located at 14 medical institutions and hospitals around the country, is to foster a multidisciplinary approach to the many problems or arthritis and musculoskeletal diseases and to develop capabilities for research in these areas. To this end, centers develop and carry out basic and/or clinical research studies, research in professional and patient education, and epidemiology and health services research.
Existing Specialized Centers of Research (SCORs) are targeted for rheumatoid arth-ritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, osteo-arthritis, and osteoporosis. These centers aim to accelerate the pace of basic research on the causes of disease and to expedite transfer of advances in basic science into clinical applications and improved patient care.
NIAMS has six Skin Diseases Research Centers (SDRC), which promote collaborative efforts among scientists engaged in high-quality research related to a common theme. By providing funding for core facilities, pilot and feasibilty studies, and program enrichment activities at the SDRC, the institute reinforces and amplifies investigations already ongoing.
Information and Education Efforts
The focus of most NIAMS information and education efforts is in the Office of Scientific and Health Communications. The efforts include the National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Information Clearinghouse, which helps lay and professional audiences locate materials and information, and a campaign entitled “What Black Women Should Know About Lupus.” A National Resource Center on Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases provides public information and develops educational efforts on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
Intramural Research Program
* Until May 19, 1972, the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases until June 23, 1981, the National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism, and Digestive Diseases until April 8, 1986, the National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes, and Digestive Kidney Diseases.