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Research in Rheumatic Diseases

In addition to clinical trials, physician-researchers and scientists in the Section of Rheumatology are working together to advance our understanding of rheumatic diseases, with the goal of finding better ways to improve patient care and quality of life. Our experts are actively studying a variety of conditions including osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus, vasculitis and other connective tissue diseases. Both clinical and laboratory studies are under way to understand better ways of treating arthritic pain and inflammation, how to prevent arthritic joint damage, how to improve joint function, and how to optimize the quality of life and care we provide for our patients.

We work closely in collaboration with other experts, both here at Rush, regionally nationally and internationally, in the fields of orthopedics, physical therapy, biochemistry, immunology, anatomy and behavioral sciences.

Ongoing studies allow ample opportunities for patients to participate and help us continue to improve care for others with similar conditions. Our research is highlighted every year in prominent national and international conferences.


  • Joel A. Block, MD
    The Section of Rheumatology has a world-class research infrastructure and an international reputation in the area of osteoarthritis. Block has participated in hundreds of pharmaceutical trials studying osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout. He has also received NIH grants for the study of osteoarthritis of the knee and the basic biology of cartilage.
  • Alison Finnegan, PhD
    Finnegan's research will identify and develop new therapeutic agents for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, which will positively affect future patient care.
  • Meenakshi Jolly, MD
    We believe that research is a vital aspect of patient care. Without basic and clinical research and discoveries of new diagnostic or measurement tools, treatment options that improve the patient's quality of life would not be possible. At the Rush Lupus Clinic, we are dedicated to excellence in patient care and to the advancement of knowledge and treatment of lupus.

    We focus our research on understanding how lupus affects the patient's daily life, how to measure that impact, and what we can do, along with ongoing standards of care, to improve daily life. We are also involved in research for biomarkers for lupus flare-ups and epidemiological and genetic studies in lupus.
  • Sonali Khandelwal, MD
    Khandelwal’s research interest is to serve an unmet need in our community for the care of adults with inherited collagen disorders (osteogensis imperfecta, Ehlers-Danlos and Marfan syndrome) and in doing so establish longitudinal observational data on the routine care and health outcomes of this population of individuals.
  • Anne-Marie Malfait, MD, PhD
    Our long-term goal is to define origins and mechanisms of pain in OA, thus allowing identification of new targets, and development of new therapies and biomarkers for OA pain.
  • Anna Plaas, PhD
    The basic research findings have the potential for translation into therapies for joint specific treatment of human osteoarthritis.

    The goal is to develop greater specificity and efficacy of the current used injectable hyaluronan preparations and to improve the ability of such injectables to restore greater mobility, reduce pain and protect cartilage function in patients with early onset of OA.
  • Najia Shakoor, MD
    Knee osteoarthritis is a significant source of disability and impaired quality of life worldwide. There is evidence to support that high loads on the knees during walking are a risk factor for this disease and that these loads my be affected by footwear. Shakoor evaluates the effects of footwear on knee loads and pain in people with knee OA. Her research will help determine the appropriate shoe type for people with OA. Her research also examines other factors that may be contributing to individual's risks for OA.

Learn more about Rheumatology Clinical Trials at Rush.
To inquire about clinical trials that may be open to enrollment, call (312) 942-2167.

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