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UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center to lead Osteoarthritis Action Alliance


Leigh F. Callahan, PhD, will serve as Director for the OAAA

The UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center has been selected as the new home for the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance (OAAA), the Arthritis Foundation announced on May 28.


The OAAA is a national coalition of concerned organizations mobilized by the Arthritis Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This coalition is committed to elevating osteoarthritis (OA) as a national health priority and promoting effective policy solutions that aim to address the individual and national toll of OA.
“Under the leadership of Drs. Joanne Jordan and Leigh F. Callahan at UNC, the Thurston Arthritis Research Center is uniquely positioned to take on the OAAA,” said Melanie Thompson, Osteoarthritis Action Alliance manager at the Arthritis Foundation.


“They currently have a National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases-funded Multidisclipinary Clinical Research Center (MCRC) titled ‘Mitigating the Public Health Impact of Osteoarthritis,’ and the OAAA goals are completely congruent with the goals of the MCRC.
The MCRC draws together multiple units and investigators at UNC interested in OA into novel collaborative relationships. Dr. Callahan was also part of the Steering Committee for the National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritis and has been involved in the OAAA since the beginning. The Arthritis Foundation remains committed to the OAAA and will provide UNC financial support to lead the OAAA through a cooperative agreement with the CDC,” Thompson said.


Leigh F. Callahan, PhD, the Mary Link Briggs Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center, will serve as Director of the OAAA. “We are thrilled to be selected to bring this consortium to UNC and the Thurston Arthritis Research Center,” said Joanne M. Jordan, MD, MPH, the Joseph P. Archie, Jr. Eminent Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology and Director of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center. “Dr. Callahan is the perfect leader for this initiative, which will dovetail beautifully with other efforts we have undertaken to improve the care of people with osteoarthritis or at high risk for osteoarthritis.”

Read the full story in Vital Signs

Dr. Dore selected to present his research at the 2014 American College of Rheumatology Research Workshop

Dr. Dore was selected to present his research study “The Relationship between Lower Limb Osteoarthritis Burden and Risk for Falls: The Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project” at the 2014 American College of Rheumatology Research Workshop in Seattle, Washington in June. This course is a two- day workshop designed to promote interactions between young and established investigators to foster collaboration and career mentoring.

Matthew J. Billard, PhD receives public policy fellowship from AAI

On May 1, The American Association of Immunologists (AAI) launched the fourth year of its Public Policy Fellows Program (PPFP), a program designed to engage postdoctoral fellows and junior scientists in public policy activities that impact biomedical research. Following careful review of the applications received, the AAI Committee on Public Affairs named the following ten individuals as the 2014-2015 AAI Public Policy Fellows.

Matthew J. Billard, PhD
Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr. Billard's research is broadly concerned with cellular trafficking during normal inflammation and invasive disease states, such as arthritis and breast cancer. Dr. Billard conducts interdisciplinary work that combines traditional cell biology techniques with mathematical modeling.

View the full announcement of Dr. Billard's fellowship online

2014 OARSI World Congress - Paris, France

Numerous faculty and staff of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center attended the OARSI World Congress in Paris, France April 24 - 27.

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.

 

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