Because access to care is not always guaranteed, we’ve been working to help close the gap on the nation’s rheumatologist shortage through our fellowship initiative. In June, we announced five new fellowship awards for 2018. One of those grant awards was offered to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) adult rheumatology program. Doctors at UAB help their community in several ways, including pilot programs in telecare, disease specific clinics, and a clinic for uninsured patients. Continue reading Meet Dr. Guthrie: One of Our Newest Foundation-Sponsored Fellows!
Because access to care is not always guaranteed, we’ve been working to help close the gap on the nation’s rheumatologist shortage through our fellowship initiative. In June, we announced five new fellowship awards for 2018. One of those grant awards was offered to the University of California, San Francisco’s (UCSF) adult rheumatology program. This globally recognized program serves more than 6,000 arthritis patients each year. Continue reading Meet Sara Sani: One of Our Newest Foundation-Sponsored Fellows!
More than 15,000 doctors, nurses, physical therapists, researchers, scientists and others with interest and/or expertise in rheumatology gathered in Chicago in late October for the American College of Rheumatology’s Annual Meeting. The Arthritis Foundation had a contingent of “patient representatives” attending to provide the perspective and voice of people living with arthritis. They fanned out to attend sessions, view and present posters and collect information about exciting new developments in the field. Here are their notes from the final sessions of the meeting.
The Patients, Advocates, and Rheumatology Teams Network for Research and Service (PARTNERS) consortium was selected to receive a 2-year grant to implement a Pediatric rheumatology Learning Health System (LHS) that will work with networks in the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) PCORnet Learning Healthcare System Collaborative.
The PARTNERS Pediatric LHS will provide support for patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and their families to actively engage in care and self-management activities. JIA is a rare disease, making it difficult to study. Currently there is no cure for JIA. Recent advances in drug development have resulted in many therapies, including biologics. However, there remain many unanswered questions about how to use available therapies. While early diagnosis and initiation of treatment have proven to improve outcomes, variation exists in treatment patterns across providers, medical centers, and geographic locations.
Clinical trials are an important step in testing the effects of new treatments on health outcomes. Did you know that one of the most challenging aspects of the drug approval process is finding people to take part in clinical trial studies? It’s true, and we believe one of those reasons is because patients don’t know what is available to them. That’s why we’ve created an easy-to-use search tool– the Arthritis Trial Finder – so you can easily find clinical trials that meet your needs!
Many of us know that access to care isn’t always a guarantee. All too often, seeing a rheumatologist includes traveling out of state because of the severe rheumatologist shortage. Last year we committed to closing this gap by offering Fellowship grants to universities in underserved areas. After careful consideration, we recently selected five schools to receive fellowship grants to help doctors advance in this specialty field. The institutions were offered $150,000 to launch new slots for established fellowship programs.
We are thrilled to be able to offer these awards because of the impact the newly funded positions will have on their communities. Executive Director Kelsey Woods told us this of the grant given to a school in her area, “The University of Washington has long been a partner of the Arthritis Foundation in the fight to both control and cure this debilitating disease. We are so proud to continue to fund a rheumatology fellowship right here in Seattle at the UW. Healthcare access is and must continue to be a top priority in the region, and this investment is confirmation that we will continue to fight for that.”
Three adult and two pediatric rheumatology fellowships have been offered and accepted by the follow programs:
We recently gave approximately $160,000 toward childhood arthritis research in the form of research grants. The grants are funded through the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA); small grants were given to pediatric rheumatologists and fellows small grant research awards were given to third year fellowship students.
Osteoarthritis Center of Excellence Research Story
Over the last month, we’ve kept you updated on the work being done by the researchers in our osteoarthritis (OA) center of excellence (OA COE). The COE is currently funding three Clinical Trial Network demonstration studies that may lead to better diagnosis and earlier treatments for arthritis. Researchers from six different institutions will collaborate in various aspects of these cutting-edge studies. This is the last in a series of three blogs describing these studies.
Most people with partial or complete rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) develop post traumatic OA (PTOA) within 10 to 20 years after their injury. Unfortunately, current ACL injury treatment options (both surgical and non-surgical) are successful in the short-term but do little or nothing to reduce the risk of developing PTOA later.
All three of the current OA COE are demonstration projects that build on knowledge gained from earlier foundation-funded ACL and PTOA research.
Osteoarthritis Center of Excellence Research Story
Our osteoarthritis (OA) center of excellence (COE) is currently funding three Clinical Trial Network demonstration studies that may lead to better diagnosis and earlier treatments for OA. Researchers from six different institutions will collaborate in various aspects of these cutting-edge studies. The three studies are connected to one another for a common purpose and they build on previous research funded by the Arthritis Foundation. This is the second in a series of three blogs describing these studies. Read the first one here.
Dr. Virginia Byers Kraus is working to identify biochemical biomarkers found in synovial (joint) fluid and urine from post-traumatic OA patients who have suffered anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture. The samples used for this study come from samples collected from a 2013 Arthritis Foundation-funded project that validated using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to measure the molecular changes that begin to occur in joints immediately after an ACL tear.
Urine and synovial fluid (from damaged knee joints) were collected from patients at five timepoints: baseline (less than 4 weeks after the joint injury), during surgery (about 6 weeks after the injury), 6 weeks after surgery, 6 months after surgery, and 1 year after surgery. The analysis of the 177 urine samples and 101 synovial fluid samples will take about 6 months.
The goal of this project is to evaluate which biochemical markers are connected to inflammation and cartilage breakdown following ACL rupture. The team is working to identify which biomarkers are most critical for predicting risk of OA after injury and to confirm the earliest and best timepoints to start treatments.
“With heart attacks, we treat immediately for best results,” explained Dr. Kraus. “We’re hoping to show that the same is true for joint injuries. What is important is the time from the injury to medical intervention. We must treat early to prevent further damage. What we currently see is that about half of the patients who have surgery for an ACL tear eventually develop more serious disease.”
By identifying biomarkers that appear early following an injury and by using more sensitive MRI imaging techniques, researchers hope to identify the individuals at highest risk for more serious joint disease and to determine the “window of opportunity” for providing treatment to prevent subsequent OA. Earlier interventions might include new drugs designed to halt the disease process and other anti-inflammatory drugs, thus reducing the need for joint replacements later and improving the quality of life.
Dr. Kraus was inspired to study OA by her father. Her father, a surgeon during the Vietnam War, damaged his hip and as a result endured 3 hip replacements over the rest of his life. While her father continued working into his 70’s, Dr. Kraus felt frustrated watching his daily suffering and the suffering of her clinic patients. It’s pushed her to want to make a difference and stop OA in its tracks.
“Osteoarthritis is a big and challenging beast -it’s the most prevalent disease in the world,” she explained. “It affects mobility, which in turn affects your heart and many other aspects of your health. We’ve begun to see success in understanding many types of arthritis, but up to now, we haven’t been as successful with OA. It’s so frustrating for me to see the suffering caused by this disease.”
We’re so proud to call Dr. Kraus a Champion of Yes. She explained why she likes to submit her research projects to us: “The Arthritis Foundation has stayed the course in maintaining prolonged interest in finding a cure. It has worked at building on prior innovative research – it’s hard to get funding for these types of studies. The Foundation has created a nimble mechanism for doing this type of research and moving it forward faster. This brings us closer to finding cures for patients more quickly.”
Dr. Kraus, the principal investigator in this project, is a professor of Medicine, Pathology and Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University in Durham, NC. She will be working with other researchers from Duke University, as well as researchers from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in NYC, and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.
Osteoarthritis (OA) affects over 30 million people and is the most common cause of disability in adults in the U.S. The Arthritis Foundation has set the goal of advancing OA treatments as one of its highest priorities, making it one of the Foundation’s four scientific initiatives. To do this, we have created the OA Center of Excellence (COE), where researchers from around the county can join the Clinical Trial Network to work together to accelerate the development of new OA therapies.
The OA COE is currently funding three Clinical Trial Network demonstration studies that may lead to better diagnosis and earlier treatments. Researchers from six different institutions will collaborate in various aspects of these cutting-edge studies. We will look at each of these studies in a series of blogs.