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Summaries of Meetings
and Announcements of Upcoming Events

NIH Director and Professional Society Leaders Participate in Annual Public Interest Organization Meeting

As in previous years, public interest organization (PIO) representatives convened for a one-day meeting near the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus to exchange ideas with one another and with NHLBI staff and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council members.

The February 5 meeting began with an enthusiastic discussion, led by NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni, about future directions for NIH programs. Participants were especially interested in Dr. Zerhouni’s plans to foster multidisciplinary research that transcends a single NIH Institute or Center, his vision of how future research projects will be conducted, and his commitment to involve the public in the NIH research enterprise.

Next, representatives engaged in a round table discussion on the development of workshops and conferences. The session was led by NHLBI staff and Ms. Paula Polite, President, Sarcoidosis Research Institute; Ms. Lorna Stevens, President and Co-founder, Neutropenia Support Association; and Ms. Sue Byrnes, Executive Director, LAM Foundation and a member of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council. Much of the discussion focused on how patients and their families can be involved in scientific conferences and what the PIOs could do to help facilitate their interactions with research and health care professionals at these events.

Later, Ms. Virginia Ladd, President and Executive Director, American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, presented a case study on how organizations can collaborate to get their messages heard. She described steps her organization has taken to foster relationships with other groups and outcomes that those relationships facilitated.

Dr. Richard Cannon, Clinical Director, NHLBI Division of Intramural Research, described ongoing research activities related to the potential of stem cells for treatment of ischemic heart disease.

The meeting also provided opportunities for PIO representatives to explore collaborations with professional and public groups and with the NHLBI. Much of the afternoon consisted of concurrent community forums moderated by NHLBI staff and leaders from the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, American Thoracic Society, and American Society of Hematology. Both the NHLBI staff and professional society leaders encouraged participants to contact them with follow-up suggestions. Dr. Claude Lenfant, Director, NHLBI, echoed that sentiment in the question-and-answer session at the end of the meeting.

A summary of the meeting is available.
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The NHLBI Holds Workshop at Vascular Disease Foundation Meeting

In January, the Vascular Disease Foundation and 16 national professional societies and health organizations held a 2-day public education strategy meeting to begin a national effort to improve public access to information on peripheral arterial disease (PAD). The program began with a full-day workshop on developing a public awareness campaign, organized by the NHLBI Office of Prevention, Education, and Control (OPEC). Participants learned how to develop campaign strategies, identify key messages and ways to communicate with their intended audiences, and build partnerships.

PAD, which affects over 8 million Americans, is caused by blockages in arteries supplying blood to the limbs, commonly the legs. It usually results from atherosclerosis, the same condition that can lead to heart disease. Advanced age, smoking, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes are risk factors for PAD. Many people with PAD have pain or fatigue in the calf muscles, a symptom called claudication. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment, including reduction of vascular disease risk factors, can slow disease progression, forestall amputation, and decrease the chance of a heart attack or stroke.

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National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council Winter Meeting

Dr. Lenfant welcomed everyone to the 209th meeting of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council. He acknowledged the guests who attended the 4th annual PIO meeting on February 5 and provided time for them and Council members to comment on the meeting.

Dr. Lenfant gave an overview of the President’s proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2004. The NIH expects to receive a budget increase of $549 million, or about 2 percent, between FY 2003 and FY 2004. The NHLBI will receive an additional $105.6 million in its FY¬†2004 budget, which corresponds to a 3.8 percent increase.

Dr. Zerhouni, the NIH Director, also discussed the effect of the proposed FY 2004 budget. He reiterated that modest overall budget increases will not have drastic effects on research funding. Due to shifts in funds from infrastructure expenditures to scientific grants, a 7.5 percent increase in research funding is expected for FY 2004. Council members had many questions, several of which focused on training for new scientists. In his replies, Dr. Zerhouni emphasized the need for multidisciplinary training, particularly for clinical researchers.

Dr. Carl Roth, Associate Director for Scientific Program Operation, NHLBI, presented data about the increasing cost of NHLBI Institutional National Research Service Awards (i.e., T32 grants). While the number of grants awarded has not increased significantly in recent years, the grants are becoming more expensive because of rising stipend levels and an increasing number of long-standing T32 awards, which tend to be higher in cost. After the presentation, Dr. Lenfant asked council members to contemplate ways to restructure this program in light of potentially smaller budget increases and increasingly larger grant costs.

Council members also heard a summary of the recent SPARK II working group. At an initial meeting to identify promising research areas for the NHLBI to address over the next few years, the group highlighted five areas of scientific opportunity:

Members of the SPARK II group then met with representatives from the American Heart Association, the American Thoracic Society, and the American Society of Hematology to discuss specific research goals in each area, impediments to achieving them, and resources and technologies that will be needed to address them.

During the closed portion of the meeting, the Council concurred on the award of 275 grants for a total cost of $117,264,000.

The next National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council (NHLBAC) meeting is scheduled for 8:00 A.M. on May 29, 2003. It is open to the public and will be in NIH Building 31C, Conference Room 10.

Full minutes of Council meetings are available.

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Upcoming 2003 Events

99th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society

Dates: May 16 - 22
Location: Seattle, WA
Details: The conference will offer the latest information in clinical science, basic science, and behavioral aspects of respiratory disease.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council

Dates: May 29, September 4, October 30
Location: NIH Main Campus Building 31C, Conference Room 10, Bethesda, MD
Details: 8:00am - 2:00pm; Open to the public.

Meeting the Challenge of Healthy People 2010: Preventing and Controlling Asthma

Dates: June 19 - 21
Location: Washington, DC
Details: The conference will address how to raise asthma awareness and implement community asthma programs, policies to prevent recurrent exacerbations of asthma, and the latest in asthma diagnosis and management.

From Genome to Disease: A Symposium of High Throughput Biology

Dates: July 23 - 24
Location: Bethesda, MD
Details: The symposium will provide both the novice and experienced investigator an opportunity to explore the application of genomic and proteomic technologies to the study of human disease.

Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation Annual Patient and Family Conference

Dates: August 1 - 3
Location: San Francisco, CA
Details: Patients and their families will hear the latest medical research findings for treatment of aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, and related disorders from expert researchers and clinicians.

American Heart Association's Annual Scientific Session

Dates: November 9 - 12
Location: Orlando, FL
Details: Scientists and health professionals will learn about recent advances in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

National COPD Conference

Dates: November 14 - 15
Location: Arlington, VA
Details: Participants will address challenges related to the Healthy People 2010 program goals for COPD and develop a plan to reduce the proportion of adults whose activity is limited due to chronic lung disease and breathing problems and reduce deaths from COPD.

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National Stroke Association

National Stroke Association Launches "Ask Your Doctor" Campaign During National Stroke Awareness Month (May 2003)

Stroke is the third most common cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of adult disability. To improve dialogue between patients and physicians about stroke risk factors and what patients can do reduce their risk (e.g., lower high blood pressure, improve their cholesterol profiles, stop smoking), the National Stroke Association is launching a multi-year "Ask Your Doctor" campaign during National Stroke Awareness Month in May. The campaign’s key component for May 2003 is to get people to ask their doctors "Am I at risk for stroke?"

Article contributed by: Kay Wan, Media Relations Manager, National Stroke Association .
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Mission Possible ... Opening May 2003 in Communities Everywhere

Preventing and treating high blood pressure do not need to be daunting tasks. To communicate how simple actions can improve blood pressure, the National High Blood Pressure Education Program selected "Prevent and Treat High Blood Pressure — Mission Possible" as the theme of National High Blood Pressure Education Month 2003.

Materials from the National High Blood Pressure Education Program
Your mission ... to improve your heart health and that of your family, friends, and community.

It’s possible ... download the tools you need from the NHLBI Web site today.

Coming Attractions ...

The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure will be available May 15.

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World Asthma Day

World Asthma Day is May 6, 2003

Join millions of people around the world to increase awareness of the global burden of asthma and the need for improved patient care. The U.S. theme for World Asthma Day 2003 is "Communities Working for Life and Breath," which speaks to the collective effort needed at the national, state, and local levels to lessen the burden of asthma in the United States. Visit the NHLBI World Asthma Day 2003 Web site for information about how your group can participate.

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