In addition to rubbing elbows with members of Congress, 13 advocates from the Arthritis Foundation’s (AF) Ambassador Program got up close and personal with NIAMS researchers during a recent visit to NIH as part of the foundation’s recent 2011 Advocacy Summit. The ambassadors volunteer
to serve as liaisons between the AF and their congressional district’s
representative. They inform legislators about the impact of arthritis on their communities and advocate for government policies and funding for research.
Arthritis Foundation ambassadors and NIAMS staff
In what some ambassadors described as a “once in a lifetime opportunity,”
they heard presentations about the latest research advances from NIAMS scientists and toured labs where they peered into microscopes to see experiments. NIAMS director Dr. Stephen Katz provided an overview of NIH and NIAMS, which celebrates its 25th year in 2011. NIAMS scientific
director Dr. John O’Shea and Dr. Richard Siegel, NIAMS acting clinical
director and chief of the Autoimmunity Branch, shared accomplishments
in the NIAMS rheumatoid arthritis research and rheumatology training programs. Dr. Robert Colbert, chief of the Pediatric Translational Research Branch, discussed advances in pediatric rheumatology.
During a tour of Siegel’s and Colbert’s labs, the ambassadors looked into microscopes at cells being studied for research on TNF receptor 1-associated
periodic fever syndrome and human induced pluripotent stem cells used for research on skin diseases. The ambassadors also were able to hear how the research translates into patient diagnoses and disease prevention and treatment.
The ambassadors commended NIAMS scientists on research advances
that have been “life changing.” They enjoyed learning about current research, as well as about discoveries looming on the horizon.