Director's Messages

May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) Heritage Month – a time for us to highlight the many contributions of our AA and NHPI members in the NINDS community, and to recognize the efforts of our AA and NHPI staff.
This month, we reach an important milestone in dementia research – the 10th anniversary of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, which stemmed from the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA). The National Plan was created with an ambitious vision: to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by 2025.

Each of us is born with a unique genome made up of DNA that we inherit, and changes to that DNA sequence occur in individual cells over our lifetimes.

March is Women’s History Month – a time to commemorate women’s vital contributions to our history and progress as a nation. At NIH and NINDS, March is an opportunity to celebrate women at all career stages as scientists, innovators, and leaders.

Last week, we celebrated the most mysterious and fascinating organ in the body—the brain! —by participating in Brain Awareness Week, March 14-20.

This year marks the 47th annual celebration of Black History Month.

The value of fundamental neuroscience cannot be overstated enough. Since the discoveries of Santiago Ramón y Cajal well over a century ago, basic neuroscience research has continuously advanced our understanding of the workings of the nervous system.

With each new year comes possibility and promise. The challenges we have faced in 2021 continue to test our grit and in some ways, our patience. My deepest sympathies go out to those of you who have experienced loss associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet despite these challenges, I have witnessed our research and scientific community endure and persevere. With this in mind, I am steadfast and certain that there is much to be hopeful for in 2022.

From the Hippocratic corpus, the author writes, “I consider the responsibility of medicine to be to entirely relieve the suffering of the sick and to blunt the extremities of disease” (The Art 3.4-7)1. Note that despite the acknowledgement that disease may only be blunted, in promoting health it is our duty to relieve suffering wherever possible.

In the United States, rare and ultra-rare diseases are defined as conditions that affect fewer than 200,000 or 6,000 people, respectively. While these numbers may seem small, they add up to a large burden: collectively, nearly 30 million Americans are living with one of the roughly 7,000 known rare or ultra-rare diseases.