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Vol. LXIII, No. 25
December 9, 2011
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Hill Briefing Recognizes 25 Years of NIAMS Research

Arthritis patient Dr. Janet Stearns Wyatt (l) presents the NIAMS Coalition’s Congressional Champion Award to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA).
Arthritis patient Dr. Janet Stearns Wyatt (l) presents the NIAMS Coalition’s Congressional Champion Award to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA).
The NIAMS Coalition—a group of more than 70 professional and voluntary organizations concerned with the institute’s programs—recently held a congressional briefing to commemorate the 25th anniversary of NIAMS. The briefing, sponsored by Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL), honored congressional champions who have been instrumental in supporting NIAMS and NIH. It featured institute director Dr. Stephen Katz, NIAMS-funded scientists and patients who have benefitted from biomedical research.

Katz pointed to the numerous scientific advances that have resulted from institute support over the past 25 years and have led to new diagnostics, treatments and prevention strategies. “The tremendous scientific opportunities that are available today,” he said, “are a direct result of yesterday’s investments.”

This theme was furthered by two NIAMS-funded scientists: Dr. Thomas Clemens, an orthopaedic researcher who is working on cellular and molecular mechanisms to control skeletal development and repair, and Dr. Eric Hoffman, a human geneticist who is developing potentially life-saving therapies for people with muscular dystrophy.

During the briefing, the NIAMS Coalition honored three members of Congress for their dedication and leadership in supporting biomedical research. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) shared their enthusiasm for the programs of NIH, as did Erik Fatemi, majority clerk for the Senate appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, education, and related agencies, on behalf of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).

NIAMS director Dr. Stephen Katz (c) joins orthopaedic
NIAMS director Dr. Stephen Katz (c) joins orthopaedic researcher Dr. Tom Clemens (l) and 2011 NIAMS Coalition Lifetime Achievement Award honoree John Porter at a congressional briefing commemorating the institute’s 25th anniversary.

Attendees also heard from people who live with conditions of the bones, joints, muscles and skin. Dr. Janet Stearns Wyatt voiced appreciation for recent advances in arthritis treatments and therapies. Drew Bonner, 16, who was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at age 6, yet achieved the rank of Eagle Scout by age 13, shared his drive to pursue his dreams and his plans for getting his driver’s license in the near future. Dr. Lara Wine Lee, a pediatric dermatologist and psoriasis patient, spoke about her passion for finding a cure and for helping others—especially children—with challenging skin diseases.

In closing, the 2011 NIAMS Coalition Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to John Porter, who served as a U.S. congressman from Illinois for 21 years. As chair of the House appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, and education, he oversaw the doubling of NIH’s budget. He continues to be a passionate advocate for NIH as chair of Research!America and vice-chair of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.

Porter encouraged attendees to continue the work of enabling life-changing advances through research. As Katz said, “The partnerships demonstrated by the people here today—scientists, patients and policymakers—help to maximize the impact of new research discoveries.” NIHRecord Icon


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