Rheumatology is a subspecialty of internal medicine devoted to patient care, research, and education in the areas of arthritis and autoimmune disease. This discipline deals with more than 100 diseases affecting nearly 20 percent of the American population. The Rheumatology Section is committed to providing the most advanced and rationally based care to its patients, and to the development of new knowledge concerning diagnosis and treatment. The physicians and scientists compromising the faculty of the Rheumatology Section are leaders in their field and enjoy regional and national recognition.
Patient Care Programs
Most patient care activities are carried out in the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine’s Hyde Park campus. This location provides a multidisciplinary setting for patient care–including physician and nursing services, diagnostic and therapeutic radiology, and physical and occupational therapy. Numerous consulting physicians and surgeons–covering the entire spectrum of contemporary medicine–are readily available if needed. We offer special programs for patients with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematous, scleroderma, gout and metabolic arthritis, and vasculitis. In addition to establishing relationships with specific physician and nurse members of the rheumatology staff, an important aim of outpatient visits to educate patients about their medical problems.
The section is involved in a wide array of clinical research projects which offer patients the opportunity to participate in studies of new treatments under carefully supervised and closely monitored circumstances. Of particular importance to our patients is the fact that scientific advances made throughout the University are readily and regularly available for translation into patient care.
Members of the Rheumatology Section are extensively involved in clinical care outreach programs for patients in the greater Chicago area. Physicians involved in these programs include senior clinical faculty members of the section. Outreach combines the advantages of community-based care with the newest diagnostic and treatment services that are generally only available at academic medical centers.
The research activities of the Rheumatology Section extend from laboratory-based, basic science investigations to patient care initiatives aimed at improving diagnosis and treatment. The rheumatology research laboratories enjoy excellent support from federal agencies (such as the National Institutes of Health) and private foundations (such as the Arthritis Foundation). A major area of investigation is the study of autoimmune disease, an initiative directed at understanding the mechanisms and modifying the course of disease processes resulting from disordered immune responses. Programs in the section involve the study of the regulation of expression of B-lymphocytes, key cellular components of the immune process. The Gwen Knapp Center for Lupus and Autoimmune Research provides important support for the study of autoimmune disease. In addition, the community of more than 24 immunologists at the University of Chicago enjoy closely integrated educational and research activities under the auspices of the Committee on Immunology.
Members of the section are actively involved in defining the genetic and biochemical mechanisms that regulate the production of DNA and RNA and their final end-product–uric acid. Studies in this area are important for disorders such as gout, some forms of cancer, and a variety of arthritic and connective tissue diseases.
Clinical research activities of the section include the testing of diagnostic methods and therapeutic agents developed either at the University of Chicago or under outside auspices such as pharmaceutical manufacturers or colleagues in the academic community nationwide. Current and recent testing of therapies developed at the University of Chicago include studies aimed at modifying the course of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and scleroderma. Patients are also involved in studies on systemic lupus, osteoarthritis, gout, and inflammatory muscle disease.
A fundamental goal of the Rheumatology Section and its faculty is to provide educational guidance to physicians in training and in practice. In addition to a rheumatology fellowship program designed to train the next generation of rheumatologists, extensive educational attention is directed to the teaching of residents and medical students at the University of Chicago and practicing physicians throughout the Chicago region.
Members of the Rheumatology Section strongly believe that patient education and close collaboration with primary care physicians improves both efficiency and ultimate outcome of our patient care activities. Skilled nurse practitioners and registered nurses work closely with our physicians to teach patients about their problems and the recommended treatments. We also work very closely patients’ primary care physicians, whether at the University or in private practice.