Rheumatic diseases are a major burden to the health of the U.S. population, causing substantial disability and taxing the limited resources of our current healthcare system—and exponential growth in the numbers of patients with chronic musculoskeletal disease is projected in the near future. There is a growing need for new clinical and pharmacological interventions to treat people with these conditions, most of whom receive their care from ACR members. Rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals are dedicated to healing, preventing disability, and one day curing the more than 100 types of arthritis, and we must continue to support research to increase our ability to provide care for our patients.
The ACR continues to promote basic, clinical, and health services research in rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases, which will translate into improvements in the care and clinical outcomes of patients. The ACR supports research and education through our professional meetings series, the publication of our journals, advocacy for increased funding for rheumatology research, and collaboration with the ACR Research and Education Foundation (REF). The ACR Committee on Research is charged with determining the emerging research priorities of our organization and developing a research agenda that comprehensively addresses the important rheumatic disease research areas. This agenda focuses on new technologies, infrastructure, and funding opportunities. The development of the Rheumatology Clinical Registry is one example of a technology innovation. This clinical data management tool is aimed at improving care and drug safety for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and gout. The ARHP also has a research committee with a strong emphasis on support for new and established researchers. In the coming year, these committees will be revising the ACR’s research agenda to meet the needs of our research community.
More Support for Scientific Programs
The ACR works closely with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support strong scientific programs that will improve the health of patients with rheumatic diseases. Each year, ACR, REF, and ARHP leadership convene face-to-face meetings with senior staff of different NIH institutes and centers to discuss ways to work together to take maximal advantage of funding opportunities for our academic researchers. This year’s meetings have focused on strengthening the relationship between the ACR and NIH, including discussions about the ACR’s research agenda, progress made with the REF’s Within Our Reach: Finding a Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis campaign, and ways to facilitate an exchange of ideas on current and future funding opportunities.