Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Pediatrics

Rheumatology Research

The Division of Rheumatology is engaged in research targeted to improve quality and outcomes for children who live with autoimmune and autoinflammatory disorders including childhood forms of arthritis, lupus and vasculitis. Each physician in our division takes on this charge through a different focus resulting in a multidisciplinary approach to reach our goals.

Marisa Klein-Gitelman, MD
Dr. Marisa Klein-Gitelman's research includes projects investigating health services and the economic burden of childhood rheumatic diseases. She is also involved in projects investigating pediatric lupus including: Lauren Pachman, MD
Dr. Lauren Pachman's research interests center on the regulation of the immune response, both in children with vascular involvement and rheumatic disease. Her specific focus is the study of factors affecting the onset and course of the most common pediatric inflammatory myopathy, juvenile dermatomyositis. This focus is implemented by both a national NIH funded study of the epidemiology of JDM (JDM - New Onset Juvenile Dermatomyositis Research Registry) and a NIAMS sponsored laboratory based investigation of genetic and immunological factors that may be associated with a short vs. a long disease course. The course of the disease is altered by therapy; prednisone and other steroids are the primary drugs now used to treat pediatric vascular inflammation.
Another study reviews data provided by children admitted to the Clinical Research Center (no patient charges for study) concerning the way that vascular inflammation alters the absorption and metabolism of prednisone when the drug is given by mouth as compared to intravenous administration. In addition, other new biological agents are under investigation for their effect on JDM and other pediatric rheumatic diseases.

Michael Miller, MD
Dr. Michael Miller's research interests include health status and drug treatment of children with arthritis and related conditions. Dr. Miller is characterizing the extent of problems in different areas of health status, determining which problems are unique to arthritis patients, and which problems are a result of chronic illness in general. Such research will be increasingly important in justifying the need for special health services for children with chronic illness. Dr. Miller also coordinates and participates in studies of new drugs for treating children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Megan Curran, MD
Dr. Megan Curran's research interests in pediatric rheumatology reside in the field of medical education. Her goal is to improve medical student, resident, and fellow education about pediatric rheumatology. Projects include defining rheumatology educational goals and objectives for pediatric residents and surveying pediatric residency program directors about their current practices and perceived needs in rheumatology education. With this information and through funding through the American College of Rheumatology Research and Education Fund Clinician Scholar Educator Award, educational materials will be developed which can be taught within existing lecture time and rotations. The materials will be taught by non-rheumatologist physicians in programs where no pediatric rheumatologist is available for teaching, approximately 40% of all pediatric training programs.

For more specifics on the research activities being conducted in the Division of Rheumatology, please visit the division page on the Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute website.