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Inspirational Patient Selected as 1 of 10 Veterans in the U.S. to Be Honored by VA For Its "Women Veterans Athletes Initiative"

Meet Bernardine Donato, who throughout her career as a Navy nurse, and a US Air National Guard tactical flight nurse, has used strength training, skydiving and running to stay active and keep her body well conditioned. The days of serving in both Operation Desert Shield as well as Desert Story are over, but even in retirement, she refuses to let arthritis slow her down, as she continues to compete in athletic competitions as well as community art contests. She's an inspiration for all of us, including her physician, Dr. Rumey Ishizawar. Enjoy reading Bernadine's story...

Being “retired” is a relative term for former U.S. Navy nurse and Air Force aeromedical evacuation nurse Bernardine Donato, R.N.  Despite having two autoimmune conditions, one which affects her joints and the other affecting her muscles, Bernadine is a competitive athlete who frequently wins within her age bracket in a variety of events. 

“When faced with a challenge, you can let it dictate your life or chart your own course,” says Bernardine.  She is an active participant with Team Red, White, and Blue (RWB), a veterans organization whose mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through social and physical activity.  With Team RWB, Bernadine actively hikes, bikes, and runs, while participating in a variety of races.  She also volunteers and engages in the arts. 

To help her to meet these physical challenges head on and continue to pursue the hobbies she loves, Bernardine is cared for by a group of University of North Carolina physicians specializing in Internal Medicine, Neurology, and Rheumatology.  Dr. Rumey Ishizawar, who is the Medical Director of the UNC Hospitals Rheumatology Specialty Clinic and a physician-scientist with the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center in Chapel Hill, NC, manages Bernadine’s autoimmune-mediated inflammatory arthritis in collaboration with her other physicians. 

“My goal for Bernardine and other patients I treat who have arthritis is to provide the best care, in order to allow them to continue an active lifestyle,” says Dr. Ishizawar.  “Bernardine is an inspiration to me as her physician and others with arthritis because of her positive outlook and active engagement in sports as well as the community.”

“Keeping my mind and body healthy with sports and other interests is essential in my life,” says Bernardine.  “For someone who is very active like me, it’s crucial to have a doctor who really listens, values your input, and works closely with you to find solutions that fit your lifestyle.  Dr. Ishizawar does that, and that’s one of the reasons she’s such an amazing physician.”  

Bernardine was recently selected as one of 10 veterans from throughout the U.S. to be honored by the Department of Veterans affairs’ Women Veterans Athletes Initiative, and profiled on the VA website.  Most recently, she was featured as the guest speaker and Veteran Engagement Director for a Durham, NC, VA town hall meeting.  You can read her story and listen to her interview via this link.

Congratulations to Bernardine Donato, who we thank for her 24 years of service in the U.S. military, as well as for being an inspiration for others with arthritis and autoimmune conditions.  Her upcoming goals include activities such as running in 5K and an 8K races. 

Even before she runs the races, however, it’s clear by anyone’s standards that she’s a winner.   

Lara Longobardi, PhD, and Brian Diekman, PhD, Publish Scientific Papers Highlighting Innovative Arthritis Research

Dr. Lara Longobardi was the lead author on a scientific paper examining the association between a biomarker and osteoarthritis of the knee. The research she is conducting with physician-researchers Amanda Nelson, Joanne Jordan, and other colleagues was published in the journal, "Osteoarthritis and Cartilage." Dr. Brian Diekman also recently published a paper regarding his research into cartilage aging in osteoarthritis. His research appeared in "Aging Cell."

Watch Our New Video and Learn How the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center is Pioneering New Approaches to Treating Arthritis, Allergies and Autoimmune Disease While Also Training Tomorrow's Leading Healthcare Professionals

May is Arthritis Awareness Month, and an excellent time to learn more about the exciting and innovative work we're doing to help address a disease that now affects 1 in 4 Americans, and which continues to become more prevalent. Our scientists and physicians are also working hard to find new ways to help people who are affected by Allergies and Autoimmune diseases.

You watch our video via this link


"CBS This Morning" Interviews Leading Alpha-Gal Meat Allergy Expert, Scott Commins, MD, PhD, to Increase Public Awareness for Condition Believed to Be Related to Tick Bites

A little known, yet increasingly reported food allergy named "alpha-gal" (referring to a sugar in mammalian meat) is believed to result from tick bites. Physician-scientist Scott Commins, MD, PhD, is one of the leading experts in the U.S. regarding this often undiagnosed allergy, and through the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center, he is conducting research to help better understand alpha-gal. Dr. Commins was interviewed by CBS Morning News regarding the allergy, which for some patients can result in serious allergic reactions.

You can view the story via this link

UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center Doctors Receive Award for Providing Exceptional Patient Care

Dr. Beth Jonas, Dr. Bill Yount, Dr. Saira Sheikh, and Dr. Scott Commins are recipients of the 2018 "Carolina Care Excellence" Award. When recent surveys asked patients if they would recommend their physician to their friends and family, over 95% checked a box indicating, "Yes, Definitely," for these outstanding doctors. Our congratulations and thanks to these and all of our Thurston physicians for being exemplary in delivering Carolina Care with great empathy and expertise.

You can learn more about the Carolina Care Excellence awards via this link.

Wall Street Journal Story Discussing Arthritis In America Features Dr. Amanda Nelson and Dr. Leigh Callahan

The Wall Street Journal has published an article in which Dr. Amanda Nelson and Dr. Leigh Callahan provide expert perspectives regarding the incidence of arthritis as well as osteoarthritis, the reasons for the increasing number of Americans who are affected, and steps people can take to help reduce development and/or disease progression.

Please take a moment to read the article.

You can also learn about the first and only national awareness campaign that focuses on preventing the onset and progression of osteoarthritis (OA).  Take steps today to StandUp2OA



Rheumatologist Christopher Sims, M.D., Honored by Induction Into Prestigious AIMBE “College of Fellows,” Comprised of the Top 2 percent of Medical and Biological Engineers

Being inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s (AIMBE) “College of Fellows,” is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to medical and biological engineers, and serves as a distinction that honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering and medicine research, practice, or education."

Dr. Sim's  research is based on a multidisciplinary and translational effort that brings to bear principles and techniques from chemistry, engineering, and medicine.  A common thread in his research is the development and application of new technologies for biomedical research with a goal for clinical translation.

A formal induction ceremony was held during the AIMBE Annual Meeting at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. on April 9, 2018.

Review Paper by UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center Rheumatologist Amanda Nelson, MD, Published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage

Dr. Amanda Nelson's invited Year in Review paper explores the osteoarthritis literature from 2017, including prevalence as well as epidemiologic data related to a number of comorbidities such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. Her paper also focuses on the critical need to identify novel strategies to reduce the impact of this highly prevalent and debilitating condition. Dr. Nelson's review paper followed her presentation at the 2017 Osteoarthritis Society International Meeting.

The article in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage is accessible until April 9, 2018 via this link.

Leigh Callahan, PhD, Quoted by AARP and Arthritis Today In News Stories Regarding Benefits of Exercise

AARP Magazine recently published an article detailing the many ways in which walking can improve health, specifically related physical and psychological conditions ranging from osteoporosis to depression and insomnia. For the "Arthritis" section of the article, nationally recognized expert Leigh Callahan, PhD -- with the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center -- provided insights related to the benefits of walking. Dr. Callahan was also quoted in a separate story published in Arthritis Today regarding the benefits of outdoor exercise.

You may access the AARP article via this link

You can view the Arthritis Today story via this link


Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project Profiled in Arthritis Today

For over 25 years, the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project in NC has been one of the premier longitudinal research studies world-wide regarding the causes and implications of osteoarthritis. Long term research studies can be challenging to maintain, as it takes considerable dedication from participants to remain involved over a period of years. That's one reason why this study -- which has yielded over 200 publications -- is so unique, and was recently profiled by Arthritis Today. Read on to learn about the research team that continues to achieve important insights from this study, as they work closely with participants from the local community.

You can learn more about study via this link.    

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