|Attendees gather for the recent NIAMS Coalition outreach and education meeting. The coalition is a group of nearly 90 professional and voluntary organizations concerned with the NIAMS portfolio.
More than 40 representatives of the NIAMS Coalition recently attended its Outreach and Education Meeting: Creating Connections for Science. Attendees expanded their knowledge of the programs and opportunities available at NIH and NIAMS, interacted with staff and shared ideas about how best to collaborate with the institute and each other. The coalition is a group of nearly 90 professional and voluntary organizations concerned with the NIAMS portfolio.
NIH director Dr. Francis Collins welcomed participants and called the event “a celebration of accomplishments in science, education and outreach.” He provided an overview of recent events and urged attendees to spread the word about how NIH helps to grow the economy, in part, by reducing the burden of chronic disease. “I hope today you can learn more and create some inspirational ideas. Thank you for the work you do,” he concluded.
NIAMS director Dr. Stephen Katz offered research highlights and briefly discussed the impact of the 2013 government shutdown. He noted that there was one bright spot for NIH during the shutdown. In almost every mention—from scientific journals, to news outlets and even on the floor of Congress—the importance of the work NIH does was emphasized. “It was a difficult time, but it was heartening for us to hear how much NIH’s work is valued by every community throughout this nation,” Katz said.
Attendees heard about the importance of public-private partnerships from Dr. David Eckstein of NCATS and Dr. Maria Freire of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. Both gave examples of current initiatives that show how combining the forces of the public and private sectors can accelerate development of technologies and therapies for prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of disease.
Breakout sessions covered topics such as collaborations to foster innovative research and training, partnerships in outreach to underserved populations and effective communication with key audiences. The meeting concluded with a presentation by Dr. James Onken of the Office of Extramural Research. He discussed how coalition organizations can leverage existing tools and resources such as RePORT to track and analyze NIH-supported research.
“The coalition leads efforts to educate stakeholders on the importance of the research funded by the NIAMS. Learning about the activities of the institute through meetings and events like this one makes us better at what we do,” said coalition co-chair Kim Cantor of the Lupus Foundation of America.—Sara Rosario Wilson