Current Research Projects

Basic Laboratory and Translational Science

  • Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project: studying genetics, the interaction of heredity and environment, and developing blood and urine tests for osteoarthritis (OA), the most common type of arthritis associated with disability and huge societal impact
  • Osteoarthritis: investigating basic mechanisms that drive joint tissue destruction including the role of integrins, aging, and reactive oxygen species. 
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): understanding inflammatory arthritis and how the body’s own immune system could help find a cure
  • Autoimmune inflammation: understanding how different white blood cells move in the body to regulate inflammatory pathways in a host of autoimmune conditions, including RA, juvenile diabetes, neuropathy, and certain cancers
  • Vascular inflammation: understanding how specific white blood cells cause inflammation in blood vessels leading to hardening of the arteries, one of the main complications in people with autoimmune diseases
  • Lung inflammation: understanding how cigarette smoke causes alterations of immune system function, leading to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)


Clinical and Epidemiological Science

  • Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project: a 20+ year study of knee, hip, hand, spine, and foot OA and other chronic diseases in the community, with an eye toward determining factors associated with the development, progression, and prevention of OA and its consequences in African American and White adult men and women
  • Examining differences in OA that affects only one joint compared to OA that affects multiple joints and how to best determine the total body burden of OA in an individual person
  • Measuring hip shape variation and whether such shape differences are associated with development of hip OA
  • Identifying traits that predict who is at risk for OA or rapid progression to joint destruction
  • Developing a Health Literacy Toolkit for Rheumatology and Cardiology practices to improve effectiveness of communication with patients to improve their health outcomes
  • Identifying foot disorders and determining risk level in the general population; applying effective interventions targeted to lessen the impact of specific foot disorders or potentially prevent their development
  • Determining the relationship between foot posture (flat feet, high arch) and leg length inequality, and examining whether shoe lifts help people with these traits and knee or hip pain
  • Understanding how socioeconomic status of an individual person and his/her community can potentially cause OA and worsen its impact
  • Investigating how social position during childhood and adulthood affects health outcomes and disease severity in RA
  • Studying how psychological conditions, such as anxiety and depression, impact OA and disability
  • Examining how genetics can influence the amount of pain and discomfort people may have with arthritis
  • Examining a newly-identified allergy to red meat affecting individuals in the Southeast


Clinical Trials

  • Studying how increasing physical activity through walking can improve arthritis pain and disability
  • Adapting and testing a proven physical activity program for arthritis for women with breast cancer experiencing treatment-related joint pain or stiffness
  • Leading clinical trials for new medications for people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) affecting multiple systems in the body and lupus of the kidney; tracking the disease activity over several years
  • Leading clinical trial investigations of new, cutting-edge therapies for RA and OA
  • Exploring how liquid peanut drops given daily under the tongue can cure peanut allergy