NIAMS recently welcomed congressional staff to the Clinical Research Center to learn more about NIH and NIAMS and tour several intramural labs. The biennial event is sponsored by the NIAMS Coalition, an independent consortium of close to 90 professional and voluntary organizations whose goal is to raise awareness about NIAMS research. Five congressional staffers took part in the visit, representing appropriations and authorizing committees, as well as member offices. Several members of the NIAMS Coalition leadership also attended.
The event featured presentations from NIAMS director Dr. Stephen Katz and scientific director Dr. John O’Shea. In addition, participants met with several NIAMS intramural researchers, as well as a patient living with lupus, Shirley Aviles, who has been participating in research studies and receiving treatment at the Clinical Center for several years. Congressional staff and NIAMS Coalition members then toured a NIAMS intramural research lab, where they saw demonstrations that focused on basic, translational and “bedside-to-bench” studies currently under way.
NIAMS director Dr. Stephen Katz and deputy director Dr. Robert Carter (front, third and fourth from l) with congressional staff, NIAMS Coalition members and NIAMS staff at the recent NIAMS Tour Day
Photo: Bill Branson
At the basic research station, staff from the Laboratory of Molecular Immunogenetics, led by Dr. Raphael Casellas, demonstrated how green fluorescent protein and advanced imaging technologies allow researchers to watch proteins in real time within a single cell.
Dr. Robert Colbert, chief of the Pediatric Translational Research Branch, showed how induced pluripotent stem cells generated from healthy volunteers and disease-affected patients are being used to identify potential targets for interventions.
The third demonstration, led by staff from Dr. Mariana Kaplan’s Systemic Autoimmunity Branch, showed how a normal biological process meant to protect us from pathogens goes awry in certain autoimmune diseases like lupus and how understanding this in the lab is leading to better clinical care of patients.
After leaving the NIAMS research lab, the group visited the clinical movement analysis lab and learned how modern digital technologies are being used to help patients with movement disorders.