Committee spotlight

The Committee Spotlight was created to share the important work of our many volunteers whose time, effort, talent, and experience help the ACR/ARHP committees continue to have great impact and effect change in the field of rheumatology. Throughout the year, committees and their current priorities will be highlighted.

Learn more about all of the committees and see how you can get involved.

Committee on Research Update

April 2017
S. Louis Bridges Jr., MD, PhD, Chair

The Committee on Research (COR) is comprised of 16 ACR volunteers representing basic, clinical, and translational research, as well as health service research and rheumatology fellows, with S. Louis Bridges Jr., MD, PhD, division director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, serving as the chair.

The COR’s primary focus area is on research and research training in rheumatology. For more than 20 years, the COR has contributed to the research goals of the College by engaging in activities and programs to strengthen research and training and promote clinical and basic research in arthritis and musculoskeletal diseases.

Each year the COR contributes to the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting by assisting with the planning and implementation of the Basic Research Conference and Clinical Research Conference, which consistently draw sizable audiences. The COR put together an exceptional cadre of medical experts in a variety of disciplines for the Basic Research Conference and Clinical Research Conference on November 11 and 12 in Washington, D.C., as part of the 2016 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting. The 2016 Basic Research Conference provided an understanding of how cellular metabolism regulates immune cell fate and functions within the context of rheumatic diseases. The 2016 Clinical Research Conference provided a clinical review of research aspects of lung disease in rheumatology.  The 2017 BRC and CRC meetings will be entitled, respectively, The Interface of Innate and Adaptive Immunity in Rheumatic Diseases and Precision Medicine in Rheumatic Diseases: Hopes and Challenges.

In addition to promoting basic and clinical research, the COR also focuses on providing leadership and guidance to early career researchers through its Early Career Investigators (ECI) Subcommittee. The ECI works to promote educational activities centered on career development and mentorship for junior researchers interested in pursuing careers in rheumatology. The ECI hosted a session at the 2016 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting that focused on grant writing and career development; the session was very well attended and well received by its attendees. The ECI will host a similar session on November 8 at the 2017 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA.

Advocacy for rheumatology research and helping to optimize research policies are also in the COR portfolio, with upcoming visits to NIAMS and the NIA planned in May 2017.  The COR also presents the ACR’s opinions on items such as proposed changes to NIAMS funding mechanisms and the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects in research studies (the so-called “Common Rule”).

The COR was excited to have hosted ten international researchers (via travel scholarship) through the 2016 ACR/EULAR Exchange Program in Washington, D.C. The program promotes the international exchange of clinical and research skills, expertise, and knowledge within rheumatology.

This year, the Rheumatology Research Foundation, through a joint effort of the COR and the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Council, will launch the Rheumatology Future Physician Scientist Award, which is designed to enhance the research training of promising students who are enrolled in an MD/PhD or DO/PhD training program. This award will support dissertation research projects in scientific health-related fields relevant to the mission of the Rheumatology Research Foundation. The award amount will be up to $30,000 per year in direct costs, with a maximum of $60,000 over two years.  Find more information on the award .

Additionally, the COR and the ECI continue to support junior researchers through the annual Rheumatology Research Workshop. This year’s workshop will take place in St. Louis, MO June 24 - 25. The Rheumatology Research Workshop is a two-day workshop designed to promote interactions between young and established investigators in order to foster collaboration and career mentoring. The workshop includes scientific lectures, oral abstract presentations, poster sessions, and scheduled time for interaction with senior investigators attending the Rheumatology Research Foundation’s Investigators’ Meeting.

The COR contributes to the College’s educational webinars and is currently developing new content to be released later this year.