Site News

A special Osteoarthritis and Cartilage issue on pain in osteoarthritis

The September 2013 special issue of OAC on Pain in Osteoarthritis has come out. This issue incorporates articles from basic science, pre-clinical animal models, to clinical OA, clinical trials, and policy. It was guest-edited by our own Dr. Joanne Jordan, and Richard Gracely, PhD in the UNC School of Dentistry.

Additional media coverage of the MCRC grant

You can also check out the announcement of the Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Center (MCRC) grant on these media outlet websites:

Welcome our new faculty member, Saira Sheikh, MD

We are pleased to have Saira Sheikh, M.D. on our team as a clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, and as a member of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center.

Dr. Sheikh (right) enjoying a little downtime at Rock the Joint, the center's fundraiser, this past June. Pictured with Dr. Sheikh from left to right, Dr. Jen Rogers and Dr. Joanne Jordan .
Dr. Sheikh has been part of our family as a clinical Fellow in Rheumatology and in Allergy/Immunology for the past three years, and her dual training and experience enables her to provide excellent patient care in both the Rheumatology and Allergy clinics.  In addition to caring for patients in both of our clinics, she has expanded our research clinical trial programs into adult Allergy and in Rheumatology.

"I am thrilled to join the faculty at UNC and the Thurston Arthritis Research Center. I look forward to continuing the advancement of the center's mission by providing state-of-the-art care to our patients and constantly striving to bring new and innovative treatment approaches to our patients. As a clinical immunologist with dual training in Allergy, Immunology & Rheumatology, I am privileged to have the opportunity to take care of patients with a wide range of allergic, immunologic and rheumatologic diseases. "

When she isn't working, Dr. Sheikh loves spending time with her husband and four year old son.  As a family, they travel around the world and are always looking for new places to visit and explore.

Please join us in giving a warm welcome to Dr. Sheikh!

Breaking News!! Multidisciplinary Research Grant Received

The Thurston Arthritis Research Center has just received the Notice Of Award from NIAMS* for our P-60 Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Center, entitled Mitigating the Public Health Impact of Osteoarthritis.

This 5-year grant will establish our Center as the hub for Osteoarthritis (OA) research on campus and includes a Methodology Core devoted to helping all projects in the Center be successful, discrete teaching on study design and biostatistics, and seminars, among other things.

Joanne Jordan, MD MPH is the Primary Investigator and Director of the Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Center and Leigh Callahan, PhD is the Associate Director. Todd Schwartz, DrPH will be chairing the Methodology Core, with Bob DeVellis, PhD as consultant.

Two projects, utilizing two UNC gems, The Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project and the JUMP-ACL study, will be led by Drs. Chris Rini and Steve Marshall, respectively. Dr. Rini's study will be looking at people with OA and how a significant other/support person can help with increasing the person's physical activity.  The second study will be following military cadets with who have sustained an ACL tear for the development of early OA.

*NIAMS - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Dr. Edwin Kim serves as Medical Chair for the FARE Walk for Food Allergy

Dr. Kim addresses the crowd with his son, who has a peanut allergy.
Dr. Kim addresses the crowd with his son, who has a peanut allergy.
Dr. Kim served as the 2013 Medical Chair of the Triangle FARE Walk for Food Allergy on September 28, 2013.  Almost 500 people attended the Walk, raising $27,000! The Thurston Arthritis Research Center was proud to sponsor the Triangle FARE Walk for Food Allergy in support of Dr. Kim. The treatment of and investigation of cures for food allergies are very important to Dr. Kim. Congratulations to Dr. Kim on this honor!

Dr. Leigh Callahan and team awarded an R21 grant by the NIH, National Cancer Institute

This new funding will enable the team to explore how an evidence-based physical activity (PA) program – the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk With Ease program – can be adapted for breast cancer survivors on aromatase inhibitors therapy (AI) therapy to: (1) help them maintain or achieve recommended levels of physical activity, (2) reduce their joint pain/stiffness/achiness, and (3) thereby enable to them to remain on AI therapy as prescribed. Co-Investigators for this study are Christine Rini, PhD, Associate Professor of Health Behavior and a member of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC) and Hyman B. Muss, MD, Director of Geriatric Oncology at the LCCC and breast cancer oncologist at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital. This study represents an important inter-disciplinary research initiative between rheumatology and oncology.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the U.S., with an estimated 207,090 new diagnoses in 2010 and a lifetime risk among women born today of 1 in 8. Most breast cancer cases are diagnosed among postmenopausal women at an early and treatable stage, and most of their tumors (70-80%) are hormone-receptor positive. For these women, standard adjuvant endocrine treatment is aromatase inhibitor (AI) therapy to prolong disease-free survival and time-to-recurrence. Unfortunately, joint pain/stiffness/ achiness is a common side-effect of AIs, with estimates of joint complaints ranging from 46% to 74% among survivors seen in clinical practice. The precise etiology of AI-associated musculoskeletal symptoms (AIMSS) remains unclear and is complicated by the high prevalence of benign and non-specific musculoskeletal symptoms in the general population of older women, such as arthritis. AI discontinuation due to side-effect severity is an estimated 20-32%, and is of great concern among oncologists. Research is needed to identify effective, easy-to-use, sustainable, and safe alternative or adjunct approaches to AIMSS management, so that breast cancer survivors are able to remain on AI therapy and have a life that is as pain-free as possible.

The Callahan team will investigate whether moderate-intensive physical activity (PA) can provide relief from AIMSS within a sample of female breast cancer survivors on AI therapy who report moderate to severe joint symptoms. Specifically, they will adapt and test the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk With Ease (WWE) program, which is evidence-based for reducing joint pain, stiffness and fatigue among adults with arthritis and is available in a self-directed (non-group) format. All aspects of this study will be informed by Patient Advisors who are part of the Study Team as well as by oncologists who are actively engaged in the design, implementation and analysis of the program.

"Rock The Joint" raises a record-breaking $54,500 to support our Fellowship Program!

"Rock The Joint", a biennial benefit for our center raised a record-breaking $54,500 which will support our Fellowship program!  The event took place on June 21, 2013 in Atlantic Beach and was led by board members and event co-chairs Cathy Ellington and Joan Johnston.  Other board members involved with the success of this event were former event chair Edwina Shaw, Kay Schoellhorn and board co-chairs Charles and Diana Meyer.

Some pictures from the event can be found below:

Nelson Discusses Prolotherapy

Amanda E. Nelson, MD, MSCR discusses prolotherapy and a recent published paper on the use of prolotherapy in patients with knee osteoarthritis.  The discussion appears in Medpage Today as part of the The Gupta Guide.

Duncan and Golightly attend Translational Science Meeting

Elizabeth Duncan, MD, PhD and Yvonne Golightly PT, PhD attended the Translational Science 2013 Meeting in Washington DC recently as part of the KL2 Program,  the Interdisciplinary Clinical Research Career Development at the North Carolina Translational & Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS).

Dr. Duncan presented a poster titled Combination of cigarette smoke exposure and overexpression of the beta-epithelial Na+ channel mimics gene expression changes found in Human Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.


Dr. Golightly presented a poster titled Foot disorders associated with foot related symptoms and function.

Aging Forum Presentations

Members of Leigh Callahan's Research Team presented posters at the Institute on Aging - Aging Forum on April 18, 2013 at the Carolina Inn.  The forum is a showcase for young researchers to present their research on aging related topics.

Janelle Armstrong-Brown, PhD

Topic:  Association of Racial Residential Segregation and Physical Activity among African Americans 50 and older:  A Mixed Methods Study.


Kirsten Nyrop, PhD

Topic:  Feasibility of a walking program to reduce joint pain among breast cancer survivors age 65 and older on aromatase inhibitor therapy.


My-Linh Luong, MS

Topic:  The association of socioeconomic status with depressive symptoms and perceived helplessness in people with hip osteoarthritis.

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