June 1999 Bulletin

Seeks funds for NIAMS

Rep. John Porter, (R-IL), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, left, listens to testimony of Terry Albright, MD.

Doctor's personal story shows benefits of musculoskeletal research

Terry E. Albright, MD, is a walking testimonial to the benefits of musculoskeletal research. Underline walking, because without musculoskeletal research, Dr. Albright may not be able to walk today, or if she did, it would be with extreme pain.

Dr. Albright told her story at a hearing of the House Appropriations Subommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education. Dr. Albright was appearing on behalf of the Academy, which is urging the committee to provide $345 million in fiscal 2000 for the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. The Academy also supports a proposal of the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research Funding, which calls for a 15 percent increase in the fiscal year 2000 budget for the National Institutes of Health. She was accompanied by Gary Friedlaender, MD, chairman of the Academy Committee on Research.

After enduring years of pain while walking, sitting and even in bed, Dr. Albright discovered that she had severe osteoarthritis. She had bilateral hip replacement and is pain free.

Dr. Albright credits the success of the surgery to advances, including ceramic components and gamma irradiation of the polyethylene plastic components which are expected to double the life of the prostheses; erythropoetin shots that enabled her to bank her blood quickly; new intraoperative monitoring to increase the safety of the operation; a cementless procedure that allowed two hips to be done at once; and a cell saver that recycled her plasma and blood, reducing transfusions.

Dr. Albright said in a written statement that osteoarthritis affects 20 million people and ranks as the second most common diagnosis, after chronic heart disease, leading to Social Security disability payments due to long-term absence from work. She stressed that research is urgently needed on the determinants of the progression of disease, validation of new technologies to assess hip and knee osteoarthritis, and examination of new interventions which maybe able to alter the rate of progression of this condition. Dr. Albright also pointed out the potential of tissue engineering to solve many currently perplexing musculoskeletal problems.

She told the committee that "a sustained investment in musculoskeletal research funding can really make a difference in our quality of life now and in the future. . . ."

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