Advancing Global Rheumatology Research – It Takes a Joint Effort

In this episode, clinicians discuss the global challenges and opportunities in rheumatology research and the impact of collaboration and partnerships.

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The underdevelopment of rheumatology research, especially in low-resource settings, can have an impact on clinical practice and patient outcomes.

To understand the gaps, challenges, and future opportunities in rheumatology research, we speak with the co-authors of a recent paper published in Arthritis & Rheumatology: Laura Lewandowski, MD, pediatric rheumatologist and assistant clinical investigator and head of the Lupus Genomics and Global Health Disparities Unit at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) at National Institutes of Health (NIH); Evelyn Hsieh, MD, associate professor of rheumatology and epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine and the chief of rheumatology at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System; and Chris Scott, MBChB, head of pediatric rheumatology at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and University of Cape Town in South Africa.

Read the full transcript of the episode here.

Laura Lewandowski, MD, is currently an assistant clinical investigator and the head of the Lupus Genomics and Global Health Disparities Unit at NIAMS, NIH.

During her fellowship at Duke University Medical School, Dr Lewandowski established a registry of patients with pediatric lupus that continues to grow and is now the largest cohort in sub-Saharan Africa. She was awarded a Fogarty Global Health Fellowship and a Lupus Foundation Early Career award for her work with patients with pediatric lupus in South Africa.

In 2015, Dr Lewandowski joined NIAMS under Dr Mariana Kaplan as a Lawrence Shulman Scholar in Translational Medicine.

She has held several leadership positions including serving as co-chair Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases Research Alliance (CARRA) Lupus Nephritis workgroup, co-chair of the CARRA Lupus Genetics Workgroup, chair of the CARRA Translation Research and Technology Committee Data Management, and chair CARRA Annual Meeting Planning Committee. She is also a member of the Early Career Investigator Committee within the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).

Dr Lewandowski has published many articles on lupus in Africa and the challenges to rheumatology clinical care, education and practice in lesser-resource countries. She has lectured nationally and internationally on the genetics of pediatric lupus in global populations and global rheumatology clinical care and research.

Evelyn Hsieh, MD, , is an associate professor of medicine (rheumatology) and epidemiology (chronic diseases) at Yale, and the chief of rheumatology for the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. She enjoys caring for patients and teaching on the medical wards of the West Haven VA Medical Center.

Dr Hsieh is dedicated to bridging the fields of global health and rheumatology, in particular through research training. As a rheumatologist and epidemiologist, she studies the impact of chronic infection and inflammatory disease on musculoskeletal outcomes, such as osteoporosis, sarcopenia, falls, and fracture in the China, Peru, and the US. Her research combines biomedical and behavioral sciences approaches, and has leveraged national cohorts and international registries, including the US Veteran’s Aging Cohort Study and Chinese Registry of Rheumatoid Arthritis, to better understand drivers of risk for musculoskeletal outcomes.

Dr Hsieh’s work has been supported by the NIH, the Rheumatology Research Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the China Medical Board (CMB). She is the co-founder and faculty lead of the Yale Network for Global Non-Communicable Diseases, program director of the CMB Global Health Leadership Development Program, and the chair of the ACR’s Global Engagement Committee.

Christiaan Scott, MBChB, is full professor of pediatric rheumatology at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and the University of Cape Town (UCT). He is currently the director of the Clinical Research Center of UCT.

Dr Scott’s research and education work focuses on the care of patients with rare and rheumatic diseases in Africa and other lesser-resource communities. He has a special interest in access to care, pediatric vasculitis, lupus, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP).

Dr Scott is the former chairman of the South African Arthritis Foundation and the chair of the Global Task Force for Paediatric Musculoskeletal Health. He also serves on the steering committee of the Paediatric Society of the African League of Associations for Rheumatology, and is the chair of the International Clinical Council for FOP.