The definition of new therapeutic targets, improving the understanding of existing therapies, as well as the pathogenesis and genetic basis of rheumatic diseases, better engaging patients in their care—these are just a few of the concerns in the rheumatology community uncovered by the recent work of the ACR’s Committee on Research.
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Since 2005, the Committee has been responsible for advancing the College’s research goals and providing leadership in research and research training in rheumatology via the ACR’s Research Agenda. The Agenda is designed to address critical areas of research in rheumatic diseases, including the need for new technology, new therapies and increased funding. Every five years, the Committee is charged with reassessing the National Research Agenda.
In developing the research priority areas for 2016–2020, the Committee solicited feedback from the membership of the ACR and the ARHP, which included investigators, academic clinicians, community rheumatologists and health professionals. This feedback from the rheumatology community helped identify important and unanswered questions faced by rheumatology patients and practitioners, which in turn, helped inform the 2016–2020 ACR Research Agenda.
The development of the Research Agenda was a multilateral process that consisted of the following steps:
- A survey of the ACR and AHRP membership to identify important research questions;
- The Delphi exercise for question prioritization;
- The incorporation of stakeholder comments; and
- The refinement of the research agenda by the Committee on Research.
The Research Agenda can serve as a blueprint for the ACR’s strategic research goals and a means to stimulate additional partnerships. The ACR will continue to engage patients and practitioners to identify innovative approaches to improve quality of life and patient outcomes.
The general themes that emerged include:
- The definition of new therapeutic targets and therapies, including regenerative medicine;
- The improvement in our understanding of existing therapies, including predictors of response or adverse events, and the role of non-pharmacologic therapy;
- A better understanding of the etiology, pathogenesis and genetic basis of rheumatic diseases, pain and fatigue, co-morbidities and the influence of aging;
- Improved outcome measures, including patient-reported outcome measures and imaging modalities;
- The role of the changing healthcare landscape in the U.S. for patients, rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals; and
- Optimizing the engagement of patients in their care.
The ACR is committed to advancing the research of rheumatic diseases. By continuing to push forward a comprehensive research agenda created with input from the rheumatology community and other interested stakeholders, the ACR will continue to have a direct and positive effect on the lives of patients with rheumatic diseases and on rheumatology research.