On Tuesday, May 23, AAPM&R board member Peter Esselman, MD, was part of a group of representatives of several Disability and Rehabilitation Research Coalition (DRRC) member organizations who met with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) officials to discuss federal medical rehabilitation and disability research and the implementation of recently-passed legislation, S. 800, which was incorporated into the 21st Century Cures Act. The Academy is a steering committee member of the DRRC and actively advocated for the passage of the rehabilitation research bill S. 800.
The DRRC group met with Dr. Diana Bianchi, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Dr. Alison Cernich, director of the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR), and Dr. James Anderson, director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) within the Office of the Director.
In all 3 meetings, the DRRC representatives described the history of DRRC efforts with NIH to date and the importance of medical rehabilitation and disability research, using illustrations of existing and emerging research topics. The group also sought feedback and input from the NIH staff on specific NIH research developments as well as the implementation of Section 2040 of the 21st Century Cures Act (PL 114-255) known as the Enhancing the Stature, Visibility and Coordination of Medical Rehabilitation Research at NIH Act of 2016.
Key takeaways from the meetings with NIH officials:
- Dr. Anderson indicated a willingness to support better awareness of rehabilitation research across the NIH institutes and centers, and presented several ways to do so directly.
- Dr. Cernich and NCMRR are undertaking a vast research grant portfolio analysis to better understand the extramural rehabilitation research that the NIH funds.
- Dr. Anderson broadly indicated that his office is looking to develop more metrics to better understand how research is conducted, the outcomes it produces, and ways for it to improve.
- Dr. Cernich described a new RFP for a limb loss registry program that is being co-funded by NCMRR in partnership with the Department of Defense (DoD).
- Funding for various types of grants and programs was broadly discussed
The Academy sincerely appreciates the efforts of Dr. Esselman and the other DRRC representatives for taking time to advance the science of disability, independent living, and rehabilitation research.