Paul Sufka Named Social Media Editor for New ACR Twitter Account
A clinical rheumatologist with HealthPartners in St. Paul, Minn., Paul Sufka, MD, is conversant with social media: he’s been on Twitter for almost 10 years; has hosted an online rheumatology podcast; and blogs about physician self-care and using Twitter as a tool at medical meetings. He’s also served as a member of ACR’s Committee on Marketing and Communications for three years.
Recently, seeking to boost the online profile and readership of ACR journals, Richard Bucala, MD, PhD, editor in chief of Arthritis & Rheumatology, and Daniel Solomon, MD, MPH, asked Dr. Sufka to become the first-ever social media editor for the new ACR Twitter account, @ACR_Journals.
Dr. Sufka is enthusiastic about his pioneering role. “The concept of having a physician as a social media editor for a medical journal is a fairly new idea,” he says. “Given the increasing importance of social media in the spread of online information, I thought it would be an exciting opportunity to be one of the first who might help shape how this position develops.”
With help from Drs. Bucala and Solomon, he picks key studies from Arthritis & Rheumatology, Arthritis Care & Research and the recently launched ACR Open Rheumatology and tweets highlights from each journal’s table of contents. “Composing things into a tweet has become natural for me over time,” he says. “And, whenever possible, I try to include an image that explains more than can be told in 280 characters.”
The account had more than 500 followers in the first week. It will allow Dr. Sufka and the journal editors to track which topics resonate with their primary audience of ACR members. Although Dr. Sufka doesn’t expect any of his topics to go viral [unless a controversial topic such as vaccines is tweeted], “We will get a sense of what people interact with and what they’re sharing,” he says.
New Editor in Chief for Clinical Rheumatology
The Executive Committee of the International League of Associations for Rheumatology (ILAR) has appointed Carlos Pineda, MD, PhD, a medical sciences researcher affiliated with the Instituto Nacional de Rehabilitación in Mexico City, as the new editor in chief of Clinical Rheumatology. Dr. Pineda, who previously served as the ILAR chair from 2015 to 2016, will be editor in chief from 2019 to 2023, and has already established an agenda for his five-year editorial appointment.
“The scientific level achieved by our journal during the last five years under the direction of Luis Espinoza, MD, Section of Rheumatology, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, is remarkable and lofty in height,” he says. “I intend to continue the laudable work done by my predecessor and colleague.”
As the official journal of ILAR, Clinical Rheumatology is in a unique position to publish developments in worldwide clinical and experimental research from its partner organizations—ACR, PANLAR, AFLAR, APLAR and EULAR. Dr. Pineda is retaining the current roster of associate editors, including Zhanguo Li, MD, PhD, Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, People’s Hospital, Beijing University, China; Cesar Ramos-Remus, MD, MSc, Unidad de Investigación en Enfermedades Crónico-Degenerativas, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico; Tim L. Jansen, MD, PhD, Department of Rheumatology, VieCuri Medisch Centrum, Venlo, The Netherlands; and Luis Javier Jara Quezada, MD, Departamento de Reumatología, Laboratorio de Immunología y Endocrinología, Hospital de Especialidades La Raza, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, Ciudad de México, Mexico; all of whom are distinguished rheumatologists and well-cited researchers. He has also promoted Adewale O. Adebajo, MD, PhD, faculty of medicine, dentistry and health, University of Sheffield, U.K. (who was formerly an associate editor) to the position of deputy editor.
To address what he has called “the notorious minority of female members of our editorial board,” Dr. Pineda is bringing in Karina D. Torralba, MD, Division of Rheumatology, Loma Linda University, Calif., as coordinator of educational projects and Lucía Silva-Fernández, MD, PhD, Complexo Hospitalario Universitario de A Coruña, Mexico, as statistical consultant for the journal. He says he will encourage inclusion of women scientists as authors, reviewers and editorial board members, especially those from Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.
In the ensuing months, Dr. Pineda and his editorial board also plan to recognize the work of their select group of reviewers through Publons Peer Reviewer Recognition Initiative.
Organizing communications with associate editors and editorial board members with worldwide reach can be quite a challenge, Dr. Pineda says. “There is a 14-hour difference between Mexico City and Beijing, just to give an example,” he says. “Instead of making someone stay awake for a conference or video call, we prefer email as our primary communication.”
Dr. Pineda’s goals include improving the journal’s ratings and encouraging publication of innovative content online. He plans to use the journal’s ability to proliferate scientific knowledge to “foment a dialogue and establish solid scientific exchange chains among ILAR’s partner organizations.”
He has also outlined several strategies to help accomplish these goals. For example, he’ll boost topical collections as a means to propagate biomedical and clinical advances to target audiences, including students, residents, practicing rheumatologists and allied professionals. He has created a new section called Research Letters, which will feature 650-word summaries of preliminary study results and will include 10 references, tables and figures, as well as a discussion. “The purpose of these Letters,” he says, “is to present our readers advances and scoops on remarkably focused clinical research.” Another new section, Perspectives, provides a forum where authors can share clinical, methodological or ethical points of view on hot topics emerging in rheumatology, he says.
While chair of ILAR, Dr. Pineda focused on clinical needs of rheumatologists in developing countries, especially addressing solutions for treatment in countries with limited resources. As the new editor in chief of Clinical Rheumatology, he is dedicated to strengthening ILAR’s mission to promote greater recognition of the conditions that will foster musculoskeletal health in all countries, “especially underdeveloped nations.”
A Doctor-Patient Relationship Inspires an Innovative Initiative
The Thurston Arthritis Research Center (TARC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced that a new program designed to advance understanding of lupus and Sjögren’s syndrome will be headed by Saira Sheikh, MD, rheumatologist and allergist/immunologist, assistant professor of medicine, and director of the Lupus Clinic and Clinical Trials Program at UNC TARC. The initiative was made possible by a generous seven-figure philanthropic gift from one of Dr. Sheikh’s exceptionally grateful patients.
“I am incredibly thankful to Linda and Cecil Sewell, and to our leadership, who share my vision for a program that has potential for tremendous impact,” says Dr. Sheikh of the venture. “We aspire to develop a platform for ideas—a community of physicians, researchers, scientists and patients working closely to provide healing and hope.”
The first area of focus is the UNC Lupus Brain Initiative. Dr. Sheikh is collaborating with neuroscientist Flavio Fröhlich, PhD, to understand the symptoms of brain fog and cognitive decline in patients. They are leveraging expertise at UNC to investigate the neural basis of behavior through the interdisciplinary study of network dynamics using electrophysiology, brain stimulation and behavioral assays.
Dr. Sheikh is working with a biotech company on NIH-funded translational projects, aimed at developing an epigenetic histone peptide microarray platform as a diagnostic and prognostic tool for autoimmune diseases. She maintains a busy clinical practice, caring for patients from all 100 North Carolina counties and from across the Southeastern U.S. She is leading national initiatives to develop real-world, practical models to promote inclusion of minority patients in lupus clinical trials, particularly using technology-based applications.
Nashville Pediatrician Selected for 2018 Excellence in Vasculitis Diagnosis Award
Linda Brady, MD, a pediatrician with Old Harding Pediatric Associates, Vanderbilt University Medical Center/Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital, Nashville, was selected as the recipient of the 2018 Excellence in Diagnosis (V-RED) Award by the Vasculitis Foundation. The award is presented annually to a medical professional who makes a timely diagnosis of vasculitis.
Dr. Brady was nominated for the award by Lisa Crabb, whose 16-year-old son Chip was diagnosed with granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA), which is rare in young people. Ms. Crabb believes Dr. Brady’s tenacity in pursuing a diagnosis made the difference in outcome for Chip, who is doing well.
In August 2017, Chip began having symptoms that seemed typical of a respiratory illness. When his symptoms persisted, Ms. Crabb sought the advice of Dr. Brady, who had been Chip’s pediatrician since he was 5 years old. Suspecting a sinus infection, Dr. Brady first prescribed antibiotics. However, his symptoms worsened, so Dr. Brady conducted additional tests. A hearing test revealed he had lost a significant amount of his hearing; but referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist did not yield a definitive cause.
Dr. Brady then sent Chip for a chest X-ray, and the atypical findings prompted her to refer him to pulmonary specialists at Vanderbilt, where she is an adjunct faculty member. By this time, Ms. Crabb recalls, Chip’s symptoms were affecting his lungs, his hearing and his stamina. “He came home from school at night and fell exhausted into bed, and then he started having night sweats,” she recalls.
Chip was then referred to a rheumatologist where blood tests revealed he had GPA vasculitis. The diagnosis of GPA was “a lot to take in,” says Ms. Crabb. Early connection with the Vasculitis Foundation and clear, accessible patient education made a big difference for the family. Obtaining the right treatment for Chip made it possible for him to resume his school and band activities. Ms. Crabb is also grateful the family’s proximity to, and Dr. Brady’s affiliation with, Vanderbilt afforded them quick access to specialists there.
Brent Graham, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Division of Rheumatology at Vanderbilt, concurs that Dr. Brady’s persistence led to the correct diagnosis. “She recognized the lung findings were atypical for an infectious process in appearance, as well as their persistence. She also recognized the potential multisystem nature of his disease, with rash and lower extremity pain,” he says.
A serendipitous connection with the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill. Ms. Crabb notes that her husband, Trey, received his master’s degrees at UNC, and their daughter is now an undergraduate pursuing medical studies there. This connection added another specialist to Chip’s ongoing care team: Eveline Wu, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at UNC Children’s Hospital. Dr. Wu is part of a specialized group that works closely with the study of GPA/vasculitis and regularly checks in with Chip and his family. Chip undergoes monthly blood tests and quarterly check-ins with his care team at Vanderbilt.
Ms. Crabb learned of the V-RED award through the Vasculitis Foundation newsletter. She hopes the award will encourage other primary care physicians “to push forward with additional testing when their instincts tell them something is seriously wrong.”
Gretchen Henkel is a health and medical journalist based in California.