NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Precision Health

NINR Launches Symptom Science Center at Event in Masur

Dr. Cashion, Dr. Grady, Dr. Austin and Dr. Gill attend the event
On hand at the event were (from l) NINR acting director Dr. Ann Cashion, NINR director emeritus Dr. Patricia Grady, Dr. Joan Austin of Indiana University School of Nursing and NINR deputy scientific director Dr. Jessica Gill

Photo:  Mena Brunette

More than 300 people recently gathered in Masur Auditorium, while nearly 400 joined online, for the launch of the NINR-led Symptom Science Center, a trans-NIH interdisciplinary resource for precision health. The center is positioned to build the capacity for complex symptom cluster analysis and ultimately improve the lives of patients. The center will make it easier for the broader research community to tap into symptom science research and ultimately change the trajectory of chronic illness. 

Acting NINR director Dr. Ann Cashion began the day by reflecting how precision health is a core value of nursing and added that the new center will offer training opportunities for those interested in symptom science research. Keynote speaker Dr. Michael Gottesman, NIH deputy director for intramural research, summed up the importance of the center: “Through the better understanding and management of the symptoms of illness—pain, fatigue, depression and the like—NINR is poised to lead NIH in its path towards precision health.”

The center fits the model of bench-to-bedside and back again, a scheme that is central to nursing science. Dr. Jessica Gill, NINR deputy scientific director, noted that the goal of the Symptom Science Center is to provide a platform to promote discovery to inform the development of personalized approaches to manage symptoms across the lifespan. 

Franks stands in front of her poster
Alexis Franks, an NINR postbaccalaureate IRTA fellow, presents a poster at the Symptom Science Center symposium’s poster session.

The center’s first protocol focusing on fatigue will be led by NINR’s Dr. Leorey Saligan, acting chief of the center. He discussed the center’s evolution and the need for strong collaboration between intramural and extramural communities and an overall concentration on team science. 

The team-science concept was discussed throughout the day with panels on cancer-related symptoms, patient-reported outcomes and symptom clusters in concussions. 

Nearly 40 symptom science researchers also presented their work during a scientific poster session. One of the highlights of the event was the presentation by NINR director emeritus Dr. Patricia Grady of the inaugural NINR Symptom Science Center Excellence Award to Dr. Joan Austin. The award recognized her sustained and significant role in developing and refining NINR’s Division of Intramural Research programs. 

View the symposium video ( to learn more about the new center.—Adrienne Burroughs

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