Thank you for your August 10 follow-up letter concerning the importance
of prostatitis research.
You may be pleased to learn that our efforts to stimulate increased research
interest in prostatitis are progressing. The scientific workshop that I
mentioned in my previous letter to you is tentatively scheduled for December
1995. A major goal of the workshop will be to facilitate the development
of uniform, clinical definitions for prostatitis so that investigators can
effectively report on and compare the results of their studies.
Following the meeting, we plan to issue a Program Announcement to solicit
grant applications. We hope the workshop and solicitation will encourage
the development of a cadre of investigators who will devote their efforts
to understanding the etiology of the disease and developing effective treatments
and preventive measures.
At the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases,
it is our goal as objective scientists to improve treatment for all diseases
within our purview. The fairest way we know to apportion resources is to
fund projects that have the highest scientific merit, as judged by the two-step
peer review system described in my previous letter. It is extremely difficult
for us to raise the funding priority for a particular disease without special
funds from Congress, especially when funding for biomedical research is
not even keeping pace with the biomedical inflation rate.
Prostatitis is a poorly understood disease. With the wealth of information
and technology available today, it is frustrating that we do not have answers
to all the questions about prostatitis. However, there are neither accurate
data on the national incidence and prevalence of prostatitis nor on its
relationship, if any, to other diseases of the prostate.
At this point, the only known relationship between prostatitis and other
diseases such as benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer is that
they occur in the same gland. Nor is there any scientific evidence to suggest
that prostatitis is related to male infertility or sexually transmitted
As I indicated in my first letter to you, most of the research funded by
the National Institutes of Health is investigator-initiated. We have received
very few grant applications related to prostatitis, probably because the
disease is so poorly understood. Investigator-initiated applications for
prostatitis research have the same potential for funding as investigator-initiated
applications to study other diseases.
The enclosed fact sheet further describes prostatitis, the need for diagnostic
criteria before meaningful research can proceed, and our plans for conquering
this serious, painful disorder. However, if it would be helpful, I or Leroy
Nyberg, a board certified urologist and the director of our urology research
program, would be pleased to talk to you or your staffer, Steven Collens,
directly. I can be reached at (301) 496-6325, and Dr. Nyberg can be reached
at (301) 594-7717.