For the last six years the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has facilitated clinical research and cultivated an environment for the exchange of cutting edge scientific information between investigators in rheumatic diseases and clinicians through its annual Clinical Research Conference, a scientific symposium that occurs immediately prior to the ACR Annual Meeting at the site of the meeting. The Annual Meeting, which has continued to grow in attendance of both US and international arthritis health professionals, now attracts more than 10,000 attendees. It is the principal mechanism for providing a forum for the exchange of ideas about research, education, patient care and socioeconomic issues. It is also the primary format for disseminating cutting edge clinical research findings relevant to rheumatic disorders. In order to emphasize the methodology of clinical research that underlies rheumatic and musculoskeletal patient oriented research, in 2004 the ACR began to build specific programming emphasizing clinical research into the Annual Meeting. The topic for the first of the five proposed conferences, to be held in conjunction with the 2010 ACR Annual Scientific Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, will be Quality Improvement and Evidence Implementation Research. This will be a state-of-the-art conference divided into two sessions, session one will highlight the essentials of quality improvement and session two will be focused around applications to musculoskeletal medicine. The meeting has been organized by Dr. Kenneth Saag and the Committee on Research (Dr. Elizabeth Karlson). Dr. Saag is Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Alabama. He is a rheumatologist and internationally known outcomes researcher with expertise in musculoskeletal disease and pharmacoepidemiology, and a clinical focus in bone health. Dr. Saag has significant expertise in the area of quality research and has served on national committees to develop both arthritis and osteoporosis guidelines and quality indicators. Topics have been chosen for the four subsequent conferences: 2011 will focus comparative effectiveness research in rheumatology;methodologies to measure outcomes in rheumatic diseases;interpretation of outcomes research;drug safety and effectiveness, cost effectiveness, and innovations in trial design. A list of tentative topics has been chosen for 2012-2014, (1) defining early rheumatic disease, the pre-disease state (2) patient centered outcomes and physician centered outcomes (3) breaking the pain cycle and (4) lung disease in rheumatology.
To foster translation of clinical research findings in rheumatic diseases into clinical practice, this conference seeks to (1) assemble clinical investigators in the rheumatic diseases to discuss advances in arthritis and musculoskeletal disease research related to public health (2), discuss methodological and substantive updates in clinical research in the rheumatic diseases, and (3) foster mentoring of early career investigators including fellows-in-training.