The new centers will provide resources for established, currently funded investigators to adopt a multidisciplinary approach to common research problems in rheumatic diseases. Scientists in other biomedical fields will be encouraged to apply their expertise to rheumatic diseases. The centers will also provide information on new research methods and progress to other investigators and to the community.
"Close collaboration among basic and clinical researchers representing several professional disciplines will enrich the productivity and effectiveness of ongoing studies and promote new research," said Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., director of the NIAMS.
Under the leadership of Raphael Hirsch, M.D., professor of pediatrics, the core center at the Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati will concentrate on understanding the causes of, and finding novel approaches for treating, pediatric rheumatic diseases. The center will be composed of five cores: 1) a repository to make tissues available to researchers, 2) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to monitor disease progression, 3) identification of cells involved in rheumatic diseases, 4) data processing and bioinformatics, and 5) administrative support to coordinate project activities.
Two pilot studies will be undertaken by the center. The first will examine the relationship between a protein produced in response to inflammation and the activation of the inner cells of blood vessels in the synovium (a lubricating tissue surrounding movable joints) of children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The second will study the effects of certain enzyme inhibitors on the production of antibodies against a child's own tissues in lupus nephritis, a kidney disease.
Research at the University of Pittsburgh core center will be guided by Timothy M. Wright, M.D., chief of the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology in the Pittsburgh Arthritis Institute, which was established at the university through NIAMS support in 1998. The center includes four cores: 1) molecular biology, 2) analytical cytometry (blood cell count), 3) biostatistics and 4) administration. Themes that will be addressed include gene therapy, autoimmunity, the biology of cytokines, genetics, novel approaches to treatment, and biomechanics and biochemistry of cartilage and connective tissues. Pilot projects at the center will involve the use of engineered viral agents to prevent infection following total joint replacements, and a study of the relationship between mechanical loading (exertion of force) and the development of tendinitis.
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The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) is a component of the National Institutes of Health. The mission of the NIAMS 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 our information clearinghouse at (301) 495-4484 or (877) 22-NIAMS (free call).