Site News

Welcome new faculty member Kelli Allen, PhD

Please join us in welcoming our newest faculty member, Kelli Allen, PhD, to UNC and to Thurston.  We are very excited to welcome Kelli to our team as of May 1, 2014. Dr. Allen is a Professor of Medicine and a Research Health Scientist whose research interests are health services and behavioral interventions for people with musculoskeletal conditions, particularly osteoarthritis (OA). She has advanced degrees in Exercise and Sports Science, and in Health and Sports Science. This expertise is distinctly important in OA and in our new initiatives in post-traumatic OA with the Departments of Exercise and Sports Science and Orthopedics.

Now at UNC, she is a part of UNC’s Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Center (MCRC) focused on mitigating the public health impact of osteoarthritis. MCRC members have been leading the efforts of the US Bone and Joint Initiative and the OA Action Alliance, and a primary focus of Dr. Allen’s research has been the development of both patient-based and provider-based interventions for managing OA.

Dr. Allen has conducted the majority of her work with the Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare system in Durham, North Carolina and was the recipient of a VA Merit Review Entry Program award to develop a telephone-based self-management intervention for OA in veterans. She was subsequently Principal Investigator of a VA Health Service Research and Development funded clinical trial of that intervention and based on the results of that study, Dr. Allen is now leading a randomized trial, Patient and Provider Interventions for Managing Osteoarthritis in Primary Care.

In addition to a refined patient-based intervention, this study is evaluating a novel primary care provider-based intervention, in which patient-specific treatment recommendations are issued at the point of care. This provider-based intervention has the potential to be a practical solution for addressing known gaps in quality of care for OA.

This is particularly important work, since there has been almost no research of provider or health system level interventions to address OA management, particularly in the US. Dr. Allen’s work in this area will provide the complementary expertise to our center to ensure that we are the leaders in the country in this area.

Examining the role of health disparities and outcomes in OA and other types of arthritis has been a focus of a number of investigators in the MCRC and at TARC for the past 15 years. A second theme in Dr. Allen’s research is understanding and reducing disparities in health care and outcomes for patients with OA. She has been lead author on several papers that have described racial differences in OA prevalence and outcomes and also delineated factors underlying these disparities. One key result of this work has been the identification of modifiable factors that contribute to racial disparities in osteoarthritis-related pain. In particular, in two separate cohorts, she and her colleagues found that psychosocial factors and pain coping were key mediators of this disparity, informing interventions to tailor and test a pain coping skills training program for African Americans with OA.

Dr. Allen has contributed to 60 peer reviewed publications, 36 as primary author, as well as three invited editorials; the vast majority of these publications are related to OA care and outcomes. Dr. Allen has been PI of five randomized clinical trials that, when completed, will have delivered behavioral and / or health services interventions to about 1,900 patients with hip and knee OA.  She also has a newly-funded grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to evaluate physical therapy interventions in OA. 


We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Allen to our team as her work is filling gaps and answering practical questions about optimal models and processes of care for the chronic management of OA.  


Awareness Programs in May

May is a busy month for the Thurston Arthritis Research Center and many of of our partner organizations. May is Arthritis Awareness Month, Lupus Awareness Month and Food Allergy Action Month!

May is a busy month for the Thurston Arthritis Research Center and many of of our partner organizations. May is Arthritis Awareness Month, Lupus Awareness Month and Food Allergy Action Month!

The TARC Heels had a team for the Arthritis Foundation's Walk to Cure Arthritis on May 10th (a few pictures from the event can be seen in the slideshow to the right).

The Arthritis Foundation raises funds and awareness to fight the nation's leading cause of disability. We are all helping the millions of people who live with arthritis pain which is painful and can last a lifetime. Tragically, it impacts 1 in 5 American adults and 300,000 children. It's time to find a cure!


Our faculty and staff will participate in Put On Purple Day by wearing purple on May 16! This is a special day when local communities rally to bring greater attention to lupus by wearing purple and telling others why they support people affected by lupus. In recognition of Lupus Awareness Month, the Lupus Foundation of America is calling on the public to take action. Lupus is a mysterious and devastating disease that ravages different parts of the body and has no known cause and no known cure.


Our faculty and staff will support Food Allergy Research and Education by participating in the #TealTakeover

Teal is the color of food allergy awareness and communities across the country will be decked out in teal to show their spirit. FARE has declared the month of May Food Allergy Action Month to raise awareness and to inspire action on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies. We can improve understanding of food allergy, advance the search for a cure, create safer environments and help people live well with food allergies.

Edwin Kim, MD MS accepted to the Academy of Educators

Dr. Edwin Kim, Clinical Assistant Professor, has recently been accepted into the UNC School of Medicine Academy of Educators.

Membership in the Academy of Educators is a recognition of teaching excellence and dedication to the education mission of the School of Medicine.

Congratulations to Dr. Kim!

Richard Loeser, MD receives the OARSI Basic Science Research Award

Dr. Mary Goldring (left) nominated and introduced Dr. Loeser (center) and Dr. Virginia Kraus (right) is the President of OARSI and presented the award.

On April 24, Dr. Loeser received the Basic Science Research Award from the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) World Congress in Paris, France.

Dr. Loeser is the Herman and Louise Smith Distinguished Professor of Medicine in our division and Director of Basic and Translational Research in our center. He was honored "for outstanding work in helping to improve our understanding of the basic mechanisms by which aging contributes to the development of osteoarthritis."

The purpose of the OARSI Basic Science Research Award is to promote advancement in basic research in the field of osteoarthritis. Research targets include all areas of basic science with relevance to osteoarthritis and in a number of specialty disciplines having an interest in osteoarthritis. This research has primarily been conducted within the last five years.

Dr. Richard Loeser joins our team as the Director of Basic and Translational Research

We are extremely pleased to announce that Richard Loeser, MD, joined the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology and the Thurston Arthritis Research Center on Monday, March 3, 2014.

Dr. Richard LoeserWe are extremely pleased to announce that Richard Loeser, MD, joined the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology and the Thurston Arthritis Research Center on Monday, March 3, 2014.  Dr. Loeser is a rheumatologist and was previously the Dorothy Rhyne and Willard Duke Kimbrell Professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, where he also served as Section Head of Molecular Medicine. 

Upon his arrival at the Thurston Arthritis Research Center, Dr. Loeser was awarded the Herman and Louise Smith Distinguished Professor of Medicine and appointed as the Director of Basic and Translational Research.  He will be an active partner in our mission to serve patients, lead and conduct research, and mentor trainees in our Division and the Department of Medicine.   

Once settled at UNC, Dr. Loeser will recruit three additional basic and translational research faculty members to the Thurston Arthritis Research Center.  We are fortunate that he brought several valuable colleagues with him to Chapel Hill.  Scott Wood, a post-doctoral student; Meredith Greene, a graduate student; and Y (Mary) Zhao and Kathryn Kelley, both laboratory technicians.  Dr. Loeser, his faculty recruits and all associated staff and students will be housed on the fourth floor of the Thurston Building.     

Dr. Loeser’s translational research interests include osteoarthritis, aging, inflammatory diseases, and cell signaling.   His laboratory has studied the basic biology of healthy cartilage cells in joints for over 20 years, was the first to describe certain types of cell receptors, and has published over 100 original manuscripts on these topics, among others.  Dr. Loeser is the Principle Investigator on multiple, currently-funded NIH grants studying cell signaling pathways and molecular mechanisms involved in the development of osteoarthritis.  Dr. Loeser looks forward to active collaboration with multiple groups across the Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, and the Gillings School of Global Public Health, including the Center on Aging, the Departments of Orthopedics, Pediatrics, Cell Biology and Physiology, Biomedical Engineering, and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.  

I hope you will join in our excitement in welcoming Dr. Loeser as his leadership will be transformative for our Division and our Center.


Welcome new faculty member Dr. Jennifer Rogers

Please join us in warmly welcoming our new faculty member, Dr. Jennifer Rogers.  Dr. Rogers will officially begin her new appointment on March 1, 2014. 

Dr. Rogers obtained her undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and her medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine, before coming to UNC in 2005.  She completed her internship and residency in Internal Medicine here at UNC in 2008.

She then worked as a hospitalist in New Zealand and several hospitals in Western North Carolina before accepting a hospitalist position at WakeMed, which she held from 2009 to 2011.  She served as Visiting Post-Doc with us in Rheumatology from 2009 to 2010 and joined us as a Rheumatology Fellow in 2011.

Dr. Rogers has been working with Drs. Teresa Tarrant and Barb Vilen on a translational research project examining biomarkers of lupus flare, for which she obtained funding from the NC TraCS Institute.  Her clinical interests include myositis and lupus.

In addition to seeing patients in the Rheumatology clinic, she will work with Dr. Beth Jonas on aspects of our Rheumatology education programs and on several clinical trials.  Dr. Rogers will also work on several new clinical and research initiatives with our collaborators in other divisions. 

"I am honored to join the outstanding faculty at the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center.  As a clinical rheumatologist, I care for patients with a wide range of autoimmune and rheumatologic illnesses, but I have a special interest in lupus and inflammatory myopathies.  I am excited for the opportunity to forge new clinical collaborations with our pulmonary and nephrology colleagues and hope to bring our shared interests together to provide the best care for our patients.  I'm also looking forward to working with the UNC Thurston Arthritis Clinical Trials team as we continue to expand our rheumatology trials program."

Outside of her passion for rheumatology, Dr. Rogers loves spending time with her growing family.  She and her husband are outdoor enthusiasts and enjoy hiking, skiing and mountain biking.  "We can hardly wait to share our love for adventure with our new baby girl!"

Dr. Rogers' compassion and enthusiasm for patient care, education and research will be a wonderful addition to our strong and successful team.  We are thrilled to have Dr. Rogers join us as an Assistant Professor.  Please join us in welcoming her!

The Chronic Osteoarthritis Management Initiative (COAMI)

Dr. Joanne Jordan, COAMI Chair, worked with colleagues to prepare the U.S.Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI)/COAMI annotated bibliography of guidelines and recommendations on the management of OA. An extensive literature review and rigorous screening process yielded several areas where current recommendations and guidelines offer general consensus: education and self-management, exercise and weight loss, use of assistive devices, alternative/complementary approaches, surgical interventions, and pharmacologic interventions.

The Findings of the Annotated Bibliography of Clinical Outcomes on the Management of Osteoarthritis team also included TARC team members Kirsten Nyrop, PhD; Amanda Nelson, MD, MSCR; Yvonne Golightly, PT, MS, PhD; Adam Goode, PT, DPT, PhD; and Leigh Callahan, PhD.  Dr. Nelson was the first author of the manuscript.  Kelli Allen, PhD, currently at Duke, was also on the team.

A systematic review of recommendations and guidelines for the management of osteoarthritis: The Chronic Osteoarthritis Management Initiative of the U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative.  Nelson AE, Allen KD, Golightly YM, Goode AP, Jordan JM.  Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2013 Dec 4. pii: S0049-0172(13)00258-8. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2013.11.012. [Epub ahead of print]

Access the abstract: 

Summary Recommendations from a Systematic Review of Recommendations and Guidelines for the Management of OA

  • Provide or refer patients to self-management programs.
  • Provide education, regular contact to promote self-care, joint protection strategies, and individualized treatment plans.
  • Advise patients to engage in low-impact aerobic exercise and, if overweight, to lose weight.
  • Consider range of motion, flexibility, endurance, and strengthening exercises, exercise combined with manual therapy, and PT/OT referral.
  • Recommend walking aids and assistive devices to improve Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).
  • Discuss thermal modalities for hand, knee and hip OA.
  • Joint replacement is recommended for appropriate patients.
  • Arthroscopy with debridement is not indicated for symptomatic OA.
  • Pharmacologic management of OA
  • Intra-articular therapy

Click here to view the COAMI Care Model in it's entirety

Dr. Mary Anne Dooley Retires

Dr. Mary Anne Dooley, Associate Professor of Medicine, is retiring from the UNC Health Care System at the end of February after 23 years of devoted service to our patients, our referring physicians, the UNC School of Medicine, and the people of North Carolina.  She has cared for many of our patients over the years, especially those with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), vasculitis, and other autoimmune conditions. In addition to patient care, Dr. Dooley and her research team have led many clinical trials to find better and more advanced treatment options for autoimmune conditions, particularly for lupus and lupus nephritis.

Dr. Dooley received her medical education here at UNC, where she held the prestigious Holderness Fellowship, and also completed a Masters degree in Public Health.  She then completed her internship, residency and chief residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Massachusetts before returning to North Carolina for a fellowship in Rheumatology and Immunology at Duke University Medical Center.

She joined the faculty at UNC in Rheumatology and Immunology in 1991 and has had an impressive career here, wearing many hats in the Division and in the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center.  She expanded the Sanford Rheumatology Outreach Clinic and served as Clinic Director for our UNC Rheumatology Clinic for many years, launching and overseeing a huge expansion in our Infusion Clinic.  She also served as Acting Division Chief of the Division for four years.

Dr. Dooley is an internationally recognized expert and has been a vital contributor to, and leader in, many national and international lupus initiatives, including the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) and the Lupus Clinical Trials Consortium.  Her seminal paper in Kidney International in 1997 was one of the first to cast doubt on the efficacy of cyclophosphamide for lupus nephritis in African Americans in the South.  Most recently, her paper in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2011 detailed the superiority of mycophenolate mofetil over azathioprine in maintaining remission in lupus nephritis.

Dr. Dooley has taught countless medical students, residents, and Rheumatology and Nephrology fellows, and cared for hundreds on patients with SLE.  We deeply appreciate the contributions Dr. Dooley has made to our Division and Center.  We are grateful that we have had the opportunity to provide exceptional medical care to all of our patients and look forward to continuing to care for all of Dr. Dooley's patients in the future.

Please do not hesitate to contact Ms. Tammy Bradsher, Administrative Support Supervisor, Rheumatology Clinic, at telephone number (919) 957-6554, if you have any questions. 

Please join us in thanking Dr. Dooley for her many years of service and wishing her the very best in the future. 


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