NIAMS Coalition Discusses Funding, Science Advances
Finding new ways to expand the audience of researchers to learn about funding opportunities was among the topics discussed at the recent NIAMS Coalition Outreach and Education Meeting.
The biennial meeting brings NIH staff and coalition members together to discuss what’s happening at NIH and NIAMS, network and exchange ideas about how to best collaborate. The coalition is a group of more than 90 professional and voluntary organizations concerned with diseases in the NIAMS portfolio. The meeting was attended by members from more than 40 organizations.
NIAMS acting director Dr. Robert Carter provided an overview of NIAMS and highlighted researchers who received support from both NIAMS and coalition organizations and are making outstanding contributions to research. He discussed the importance of communicating funding opportunities, explaining, “This topic is relevant not only to scientists applying for grants but also to the advocates, patients and caregivers who are impacted by the conditions in our mission areas.” He then opened the floor to attendees to provide feedback on ways NIAMS can best communicate funding opportunities to their constituents.
The group learned about patient engagement strategies from Dr. Eleanor Perfetto, executive vice president of strategic initiatives for the National Health Council, who emphasized the importance of including patients at every stage of research, from protocol development to delivery of care. She emphasized that meaningful patient engagement involves bi-directional relationships between patients and other stakeholders so that research questions and outcomes are truly patient-centric.
NCCIH director Dr. Helene Langevin discussed advances in chronic pain research and the importance of studying both the body and brain when developing therapeutic strategies for pain management. She emphasized that an integrative approach that considers the body’s structural components, underlying connective tissues and the mind is critical for developing new strategies to combat chronic pain.
A series of breakout sessions covered topics ranging from how coalition groups can help reach new audiences about NIH funding opportunities to best practices to engage minority and underserved audiences. Key points included strategies for coalition members to get more involved in research efforts and best practices for staying up to date on NIAMS funding updates so they can share these opportunities with their organizations.
The meeting concluded with updates on NIH’s All of Us Research Program from Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron, chief engagement officer, who said they have more than 400 enrollment clinics across the nation and have enrolled more than 200,000 volunteers to date. The program plans to collect and study data over a long period of time and aims to change the face of health care once all the data is shared with the scientific community.—Stephanie Mathews