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STEP Committee Announces 1997-1998 Offerings

The Staff Training in Extramural Programs (STEP) committee recently announced its continuing education activities for 1997-1998.

STEP will offer three training modules during the coming year, each exploring a topic for a full day. The first module, "Bioinformatics: New Power Tool for Research," will be held Nov. 5. It will include demonstrations on the use of shared databases in a variety of scientific disciplines from genetics to anatomy and will address the opportunities and challenges in this growing field. The second module, "Advocacy Groups: Partners in Research," to be offered Feb. 24, will explore the role that advocacy groups play in influencing public health policy and in setting research priorities through their interactions with Congress, NIH and the public. The third module, "DRG: The Next Generation," scheduled for Mar. 24, will take a critical look at ongoing changes within the Division of Research Grants that are intended to ensure a highly responsive peer review system. The module will examine the potential impact of these changes on NIH and the scientific community, offering various perspectives on a range of issues through a series of presentations, panel discussions and case studies.

Advance registration is required for participation in all STEP modules. Register by submitting a training nomination using the NIH Integrated Training System. The nomination deadlines are: module 1, Oct. 3; module 2, Jan. 23; and module 3, Feb. 24.

In addition to the modules, STEP will offer the Forum series, which is designed to provide an opportunity for lively exchange of information on current issues of interest to the extramural community. The programs are generally 2-3 hours long, and don't require advance registration. Dates, times and locations will be announced well in advance of the presentations.

Four forums are planned. The first features Bruce Johnson, who returns with a new presentation titled, "Creating a Compelling Life." This will be followed by "Risky Business: Perils and Payoffs of Genetic Testing," which will review the utility of screening for genetic disease or disease susceptibility, what test results actually mean, and the consequences of genetic testing. The next forum, "Outbreak! The Real Story on Emerging Infectious Diseases," will examine a range of issues including the populations at risk, measures people can take to protect themselves, and public health efforts to combat these diseases. Finally, "Forever Young? Hormone Replacement Therapy," will address the reasons men and women undergo hormone replacement therapy as well as risks and benefits.

STEP will also continue the popular Science for All Series. These programs provide extramural staff with an excellent opportunity to learn about recent scientific advances as they relate to contemporary health issues. Like the forums, these 2-3 hour presentations don't require advance registration. Dates, times and locations will be advertised at a later time.

Three presentations are planned for this year. The first in the series, "Can You Buy Health Over the Counter?" will examine the scientific risks and benefits of using vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements, and will also cover some of the current regulatory issues governing this growing industry. The second presentation, "Diabetes: Are You at Risk?" will familiarize participants with factors that place one at risk for diabetes and will explain the different forms of diabetes with respect to their underlying causes, disease consequences and effectiveness of available treatments. The third in the series, "Organs 'R' Us: Tissue Engineering," will highlight new developments in tissue engineering and some of the clinical challenges and legal implications associated with this relatively new branch of medicine.

Mary Armstead

The STEP training activities are developed by a committee of 25-30 experienced NIH extramural staff. Mary Armstead, procurement analyst in the Office of Contracts Management, OD, has been named chair of the STEP committee. Dr. Philip Smith, director, Pituitary and Neuroendocrinology Research Program, NIDDK, is serving as vice chair. The Office of Extramural Programs sponsors the program. For a copy of the STEP catalog, contact your personnel office or the STEP office at 5-2769.

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