Thurston Today - December 2013 edition

HAPPY HOLIDAYS from all of us at the Thurston Arthritis Research Center!

A Message from the Director


Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Center
This summer the Thurston Arthritis Research Center became a Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Center (MCRC) charged with Mitigating the Public Health Impact of OA.
This is designed to transform the face of osteoarthritis research on the UNC campus by serving as a hub for innovation, training and collaboration. Our center is one of eight MCRC's in the country; one of three in the southeast!
View the original MCRC news release and media coverage here

Congratulations Allergy/Immunology Clinic!
Our Allergy/Immunology clinic made it back to "TOP FIVE" in patient satisfaction for the most recent completed quarter (July-Sept, 3rd quarter of calendar 2013, 1st quarter of FY2014)! This is a great testimony to their hard work and dedication to our patients! The clinic scored among the “TOP FIVE” of all the outpatient clinics during the latest quarterly release of the UNCHCS Patient Satisfaction scores!!

Lib Harriss Retires

Not many people can say that they have worked with the same "boss" for 31 years, with 21 of those years at UNC. I started working with Dr. Robert Berger in 1982, as the business manager when he began a private practice in Rheumatology/Allergy with Eastowne Medical Specialists following his fellowship at UNC.

Radio In Vivo interview with Dr. Joanne Jordan - November 20, 2013

Research, Grants, & Awards

Leigh F. Callahan, PhD 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.

Leigh F. Callahan, PhD and Joanne M. Jordan, MD, MPH awarded an RO1 grant; Mortality in a community sample of adults with arthritis
Symptomatic knee and/or hip Osteoarthritis poses a significant public health problem due to its impact on pain, mobility and disability, and the potential barrier it presents to physical activity among adults with diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease.

Beth Duncan, MD is a co-investigator on a grant researching effects of tobacco
UNC was recently awarded one of 14 "Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS)" grants that are jointly funded from NIH and FDA. The title of the grant is The Impact of Tobacco Exposure on the Lung's Innate Defense System. Dr. Duncan is a co-investigator on Project 3, which is titled, Mouse Models of Smoking-related Diseases: What is the Best Mimic of Human Disease?

Our Rheumatology Fellowship Program has been awarded a training support grant
Our Rheumatology Fellowship Program has been awarded an Amgen Fellowship Training Award through The Rheumatology Research Foundation. All applications for this award were reviewed by a group of highly experienced physicians in the field of Rheumatology and funding will begin in the summer of 2014. Congratulations to Dr. Beth Jonas, Rheumatology Fellowship Program Director, for her work on this award!


Recent Publications

In the year 2013, we at the Thurston Arthritis Research Center and the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology have published numerous manuscripts in the medical literature.  Here are just a few to demonstrate the broad range of research interests of our faculty and fellows.  Click here for a more complete listing

Drs. Joanne Jordan and Richard Gracely co-edited a special issue of the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage focusing on mechanisms behind pain in osteoarthritis.  This issue had over 30 papers from experts around the world including basic research in animal models of osteoarthritis, clinical research in patients with osteoarthritis, and the impact of OA-related pain on public policy. more...

Dr. Mary Anne Dooley and colleagues published a paper on the effects on the kidney of belalimumab (benlysta), the first new medication for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 50 years. 

Drs. Saira Sheikh and Wesley Burks, Chair of Pediatrics at UNC and President of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, published an Expert Review of advances in the diagnosis and therapy of peanut allergy, a life-threatening immunologic allergic condition that affects 1% of children, is increasing in frequency, and is a major public health issue. more...

Dr. Robert Roubey had a paper recently published in Thrombosis Research on antiphospholipid syndrome (APS).  APS is a frequently devastating condition in which anti-phospholipid autoantibodies (aPL) can result in repeated pregnancy losses, blood clots in the legs or lungs, or stroke. In this study, patients with APS, compared to people with aPL who had not had any symptoms, had higher circulating levels of microparticle tissue factor, an important trigger of blood clot formation.
Dr. Beth Jonas and her colleagues in the Carolinas Fellows Collaborative published a paper with recommended educational objectives and metrics for adoption by the American College of Rheumatology for national standards in how physicians are trained and qualified to become rheumatologists.  more...

Dr. Teresa Tarrant's Lab has a recent publication which shows that protein interactions inside immune cells can determine the ability of their movement from the bone marrow to sites of inflammation, like in arthritis.  These same interactions are important in immune deficiency and bone marrow transplantation.  The Tarrant lab hopes to better understand how immune cells develop and move in and out of the bone marrow to develop new therapies for patients with autoimmune disease and stem cell transplantation.  more...

Dr. Leigh Callahan's Research Group published a paper showing that socioeconomic status even in childhood affects disability, depression and physical and mental health of people with arthritis as adults.  more...

Dr. Yvonne Golightlypublished a paper on psychometric properties of the Foot and Ankle Outcome Score (FAOS), using data from the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project, a community-based study of adults with and without osteoarthritis. more...


New Faces


Welcome our new faculty member, Saira Sheikh, MD
We are pleased to have Saira Sheikh, MD 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.


Our center is very fortunate to have two successful fellowship programs to train Rheumatologists (led by Dr. Beth Jonas) and Allergists/Immunologists (led by Dr. Maya Jerath). Learn more about our 2013 Fellows by clicking on their name below.

2013 Rheumatology Fellows

We are pleased to announce that Dr. David Gray will join us in our UNC Rheumatology Fellowship Program. Dr. Gray did his undergraduate work at Williams College and completed his MD and MPH at the Medical University of South Carolina. He is currently a third year Internal Medicine resident at Tufts University in Boston. We look forward to welcoming Dr. Gray in July 2014.

2013 Allergy/Immunology Fellows

Please join us in celebrating the new members of the allergy/immunology fellowship program, Dr. Allison Burbank and Dr. Aaron Kobernick. Drs. Burbank and Kobernick will begin their training at UNC in July 2014. Dr. Burbank received her MD from the University of Arkansas. She is currently completing her residency training in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and serving as Chief Resident at the same institution, in Little Rock, AR. Dr. Kobernick received his MD and MPH from Tulane University, where he also completed Internal Medicine and Pediatrics residency training. He is currently working for the Indian Health Services in Chinle, AZ.

We are delighted to add such exceptional candidates to our existing outstanding group of fellows and look forward to having them join us soon. We wish them a very warm welcome!


Division and Center Staff

Sunanda Dillon

Vanessa Wise

We are pleased to announce that our Division has two new employees, Sunanda Dillon and Vanessa Wise as Clinical Administrative Support Associates, supporting our patient care mission.

Click on their name to learn more about Sunanda and Vanessa.



Elizabeth Moore is a graduate student who joined us recently as a part of the MCRC. A native North Carolinian and recent graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, this fall Elizabeth started her MPH in the Department of Health Behavior. more...

Kari Eubanks, our work-study student, is originally from Kinston, North Carolina, but currently lives in Morehead City, North Carolina. Kari attended Carteret Community College and obtained an Associate of Arts degree and transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill as a junior to study Exercise and Sports Science. more...

Djin Enuol is our other work-study student and she is from Greensboro. Djin is a psychology major and her hobbies are crafting and watching YouTube and National Geographic. She is happy and honored to be a part of Thurston Arthritis Research Center.

The Liu Lab welcomes newcomer Monica Jin to their team.

Please join us in welcoming all of our new faces to the Division and Center!

Philanthropy News

Read THANK YOU messages from two of our fellows, Dr. Hippe and Dr. Dore, for the Fellows Library upgrades made possible through philanthropy! more...

Read the THANK YOU message from our 4th floor research labs for new lab equipment provided by donor funds! more...



Fundraisers and Events

Our center was fortunate to be a part of numerous successful events in 2013.

Rock The Joint - Rock the Joint took place on June 21, 2013 and all of the funds raised supported our fellowship program.

Toss Out Lupus - Susan Corbett's brainchild, Toss Out Lupus was held on October 6, 2013 and 100% of the proceeds benefited Lupus research at our center.

Sponsorship of FARE Walk - The Triangle FARE Walk for Food Allergy took place on October 12, 2013 and was chaired by our very own Dr. Edwin Kim. To support his community leadership efforts, the center was a sponsor of the walk.


Thurston Visitors

We welcome Yajuan Shen as a visiting scholar in Dr. Peng Liu’s lab at the center for one year starting September 10, 2013. She is visiting us from Shandong University School of Medicine Provincial Hospital Affiliated to Shandong University, Jinan, China. more...

Hilde Haukeland, MD visited our center for two weeks this October. "I was very fortunate to be accepted for an observership in the Division of Rheumatology at UNC for two weeks this October."

Owain Donnelly is currently visiting our center from London. I am a final year medical student at University College London (UCL). I am from a small town in North Wales originally, and it is (mildly) famous in the UK for supposedly having the third longest name in the world:

We wish you and your family a safe and wonderful holiday season! We are grateful for all of you and look forward to seeing you in the New Year!

~ The faculty and staff of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center

Board of Advisers

Current Members

  • Charles Meyer, Co-Chair
  • Diana Tufts Meyer, Co-Chair
  • Santo Costa
  • Cathy Ellington
  • Grace Grasty
  • Julie Hans
  • Joan Johnston
  • Lu McLeod
  • Hugh O'Neill, PhD
  • Stuart Bondurant, MD honorary member
Please join us as we welcome our new 2013 Board members

A message from our new 2013 Board member

Lu McLeod
"As a new member of the Advisory Board I am committed to supporting the TARC mission of providing excellent clinical care while staying focused on the need for continued research on arthritis related diseases. I look forward to working with the team to increase awareness, recognition and ongoing financial support."

Messages from our Emeritus Board Members

Bob Gaskin
“I was honored to join the Board because the devastating impact of autoimmune diseases on individuals and their families is all too real to my family. For this and many other reasons, I greatly appreciate and respect the work of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center. Dr. Jordan, her staff and the many volunteers who support the work of TARC are wonderful, dedicated people in my mind! I deeply respect your dedication to fighting RA and the various other autoimmune diseases, which plague so many. I wish you the very best and hope for your ultimate victory over these diseases!”

Kay Schoellhorn
“I have enjoyed my time as a Board member, especially working on and attending our highly successful fundraising event, Rock The Joint! The mission of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center is one that touches almost everyone in some way and I will continue to be an ambassador of the important research, education and patient care of these debilitating and often overlooked diseases. I am appreciative of the center's work and am glad to have experienced their passion first-hand!”

Kate Queen, MD
"Having the opportunity to serve on the Thurston Board has been a wonderful experience. I have a new appreciation for the scope and depth of the research, education and training opportunities offered in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, as well as the vision for the future. I am delighted to discover new ways to be a part of that energy and excitement, and look forward to joining the MCRC Advisory Board."

Other Emeritus members are:

  • Edwina Shaw
  • Doc J. Thurston,III
  • Gene Tucker

Please join us in thanking our wonderful Emeritus Board Members for their service

2013 ACR Conference

Arthritis Around the World

Even though this video was made by people with arthritis and our colleagues in arthritis research in Canada, the concepts and the need for better treatments and new discoveries applies to us in the United States too.

View video in full screen

If you would like your gift to support one of our specific initiatives in research, education or patient care, please contact:
Jennifer Bullard
Director of Development

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More information can be found on our website: