Skip to main content

Dr. Leigh Callahan is Associate Director of the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center, and Director of the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance.  She is a leading epidemiologist and an internationally recognized researcher in the area of osteoarthritis and other rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases.

She also directs the NIAMS-funded, Thurston Arthritis Research Center’s Core Center for Clinical Research (CCCR), which helps researchers to:

  • Design, implement and analyze innovative studies of rheumatic diseases
  • Improve understanding of disease mechanisms
  • Inform the best strategies for disease prevention and treatment

Dr. Callahan’s experience covers a very broad spectrum of research and leadership among leading medical professional associations and alliances, as well as evidence-based community interventions, and teaching tomorrow’s leading healthcare professionals.  She is currently the President-Elect of the U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative, and she recently joined the NIAMS Council as a member.

A few examples of Dr. Callahan’s areas of research include:

Mortality and osteoarthritis: studies evaluating the role of knee and hip osteoarthritis (alone and in combination with co-morbid conditions) and mortality.

Community-based physical activity and weight loss intervention trials: evaluating and establishing the evidence-base for physical activity interventions that can be implemented in the community setting, e.g., Weight Loss and Exercise for Communities with Arthritis in North Carolina (WE-CAN), Walk With EaseCamine con Gusto (the Spanish language version of Walk With Ease), Tai Chi for Arthritis, and Active Living Everyday.

Social determinants and health outcomes: observational research examining associations of factors such as age, gender, education, ethnicity and place of residence with a range of health outcomes including disability, pain and psychosocial factors in patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Health Literacy: development of “Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkits” for primary care, rheumatology, and cardiology designed to help clinical practice settings in working with individuals with all levels of health literacy.

Key Team Members:

Kirsten Ambrose, MS, CCRC
Associate Director, Osteoarthritis Action Alliance

Kate Lindrum 
Administrative Support Specialist