Published 3/1/2007
Christy Gilmour

Researchers, patients take on Capitol Hill

On March 28-29, 2007, nearly 100 physicians, researchers, and patients participated in the AAOS-sponsored Research Capitol Hill (RCH) Days.

The annual event, hosted by the AAOS Research Development Committee (RDC) each spring, brings orthopaedic surgeons, orthopaedic researchers, and patients whose lives have been improved through their efforts to Washington, D.C., for a series of meetings with Congressional representatives and government leaders.

During Research Capitol Hill Days, orthopaedic patients, family members, and orthopaedic surgeons advocate for increased funding for musculoskeletal research.

The purpose of RCH is to advocate for increased funding to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). Originally, just researchers traveled to Washington to make the case for more money. But three years ago, patients began to accompany their physicians to Capitol Hill; their personal stories resonate well with legislators and their staffs. The 2007 contingent included more than 40 AAOS physicians and researchers, including several specialty society members, as well as 30 patients and their families.

On March 28, the patient group visited Johns Hopkins University for a specialized “Research 101” course, led by Kristy Weber, MD. In preparation for their Capitol Hill visits, patients learned why orthopaedic research and increased funding for the field is of paramount importance. All participants then met together for a specialized messaging training. That evening, NIAMS director Stephen I. Katz, MD, PhD, addressed the group during a dinner reception.

In addition to meeting with legislators as part of RCH, the RDC also attended several other important meetings. The committee spent March 30 at the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Md., meeting with the respective institute directors and program staff members from NIAMS, the Center for Scientific Review, the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, and the National Institute on Aging. The next issue of AAOS Now will provide full coverage of RCH. Watch for it!