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(Left) Dr. Emma Astrike-Davis; (Right) Dr. Richard Loeser

The American College of Rheumatology and the Rheumatology Research Foundation (RRF) hosted a combined meeting of funded investigators who have received RRF grants and rheumatology trainees participating in the Rheumatology Research Workshop in Denver, Colorado last week on May 16th and 17th. The goal of the combined meeting is to “promote interaction between rheumatology trainees, early career investigators, and established investigators to foster collaboration and facilitate career mentoring.”

Dr. Emma Astrike-Davis, a second-year resident in UNC’s Department of Medicine, attended the event and had the opportunity to learn and network with fellow investigators. When reflecting on her time at the RRW, Dr. Astrike-Davis commented that, “it was excellent to connect with other residents and fellows across the country who are doing rheumatology research.”

While attending, Dr. Astrike-Davis was also able to present the project she’s been working on with Dr. Rumey Ishizawar, the UNC Adult Rheumatology Fellowship Program Director, and other members of the Immuno-Oncology Group. While discussing their work, Dr. Astrike-Davis noted that she received “encouraging feedback for further investigation and enrollment of participants from underrepresented minority groups.”

The Thurston Arthritis Research Center’s Director, Dr. Richard Loeser, was also invited to attend the meeting and provide updates on the progress of his Innovative Research Award project funded by the RRF and titled “Small Molecule Discovery for Osteoarthritis Disease Modification”. He noted that “it was wonderful to see the breadth and depth of the research supported by the RRF and have the opportunity to meet the next generation of investigators.”

Some key highlights from the workshop were the reflections from Dr. Paul Sufka (Twin Cities Orthopedics) on how social media facilitated rheumatology research and collaboration during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the application of lessons learned from the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance. Another highlight mentioned by Dr. Astrike-Davis was the strategies shared by Dr. Maximilian Konig (Johns Hopkins) on how to pursue grant funding and research opportunities through various disease specific organizations as an early investigator.