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Advances in Rheumatology Course: Q&A With John Stone, MD, MPH

In This Article

  • For 43 years, Mass General Brigham's Advances in Rheumatology course has led the field in educating practitioners on treating rheumatic conditions
  • Advances in Rheumatology 2022 will be a four-day course held in-person and online, co-directed by John Stone, MD, MPH, of Massachusetts General Hospital, and Michael Weinblatt, MD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • In this Q&A, Dr. Stone discusses the latest rheumatology research and explains what makes the Advances in Rheumatology course stand out

For more than 40 years, Mass General Brigham's Advances in Rheumatology course has led the field in educating practitioners on treating rheumatic conditions. Led by John Stone, MD, MPH, director of Clinical Rheumatology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Michael Weinblatt, MD, co-director of Clinical Rheumatology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, the four-day course is inclusive of lectures from rheumatology experts across the country.

In this Q&A, Dr. Stone discusses the latest rheumatology research and explains what makes this course stand out.

Q: What are some of the most important clinical advances in rheumatology recently?

Stone: Some recent advances I'm most excited about include the FDA's approval of a novel complement inhibitor, avacopan, for treating antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis. Several new drugs have also been approved for treating systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and lupus nephritis. There are recent breakthroughs in our understanding of the gut microbiome, the treatment of psoriatic arthritis, and new autoimmune diseases that affect the central nervous system, such as neuromyelitis optica. We have also seen tremendous advances involving reproductive issues in rheumatic diseases, optimizing pregnancy outcomes, and garnering a greater appreciation for how to keep mothers with inflammatory disorders safe during pregnancy.

Q: What research coming from the Mass General Brigham teams are you most excited about?

Stone: Through our research, we continue to provide critical guidance on managing patients with rheumatic disease in the era of COVID-19. Our investigators are currently pioneering approaches to the treatment of ANCA-associated vasculitis and large-vessel vasculitis, as well as identifying new aspects in the management of gout and increasing our understanding of the clinical epidemiology of SLE.

Q: What sets rheumatology research at Mass General Brigham apart from other institutions?

Stone: Our institution has a tradition of identifying emerging conditions, such as the recognition of IgG4-related disease (published in Modern Pathology), which led to an increased understanding of its histopathology and established guidelines for diagnosis. We engage in bench-to-bedside collaborations between the great clinic and research institutes affiliated with Mass General, such as the Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT, and Harvard, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Our unique research efforts foster an understanding of the importance of glucocorticoid toxicity reduction in rheumatic diseases.

Q: What makes the Advances in Rheumatology 2022 CME course stand out?

Stone: For the past two years, Advances in Rheumatology has been completely virtual. Therefore, we are delighted to welcome back in-person attendees for the first time since 2019, as Advances in Rheumatology 2022 will be hybrid for the first time in its 43-year history.

This year's course also has the largest and most ambitious agenda yet, including 27 lectures or Meet-the-Professor sessions addressing all aspects of rheumatic disease; curbside consultations; the year's greatest cases from Mass General and the Brigham; a New England Journal of Medicine Clinicopathologic Conference; and panel discussion sessions on vasculitis, lupus, and inflammatory arthritis.

Q: What are your goals for the course?

Stone: This course offers the most effective methods of imparting knowledge about the latest developments in rheumatology. With this being the first hybrid Advances in Rheumatology course, this year's goal is to provide in-person and virtual environments that facilitate personal, collaborative interactions between attendees and disease experts.

Q: How does a course like this lead to improved patient care?

Stone: The style of this course is highly clinically oriented. It brings experienced experts from academic medicine together with clinicians currently grappling with the challenges of patient care in the ever-changing landscape of rheumatic disease. The collaborative nature of this course enables practicing clinicians to enhance their clinical skills and increase their knowledge of the latest breakthroughs in the diagnosis, treatment, and pathophysiology of rheumatic diseases.

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Massachusetts General Hospital is conducting an NIH-funded clinical trial exploring elotuzumab as a treatment for IgG4-related disease.


Yuqing Zhang, DSc, and colleagues in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology at Massachusetts General Hospital found the incidence of COVID-19 is higher among patients with rheumatoid arthritis than in the general population, regardless of medication use and multiple other potential confounders.