The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), a component of the NIH, which sponsored the reception, will conduct the clinic at the Clinical Center on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md.
The clinic offers diagnosis, evaluation and treatments for children with arthritis and other chronic rheumatic diseases. It also serves as a specialty care facility for children through age 17 who are suspected of having, or have a confirmed diagnosis of, a rheumatic disease.
The clinic also exposes doctors to the subspecialty of pediatric rheumatology, an area of medicine that is greatly underserved. According to a 1999 report from the American Board of Medical Specialties, there are only 162 pediatric rheumatologists in the United States, and they are mostly clustered around large cities. There are no pediatric rheumatologists at all, for example, in Idaho, Maine or North Dakota.
Staffing the clinic will be a host of medical professionals from NIH and the private sector, including pediatric rheumatologists, pediatricians, nurse practitioners, research nurses and doctors in training to become specialists.
NIAMS Scientific Director Peter Lipsky, M.D., shared, "The clinic will help scientists gather research data we so badly need, especially since rheumatic diseases in children vary considerably from those in adults."
"Rheumatic diseases in children may compromise many developmental and educational tasks," said Barbara Mittleman, M.D., a rheumatologist and NIAMS director of scientific interchange. "Early and effective treatment can restore or improve their chances to enjoy childhood."
"This is a dream come true," said Robert Lipnick, M.D., a pediatric rheumatologist in private practice in Bethesda, Md., who will help staff the clinic along with NIH physicians Karyl Barron, M.D., also a pediatric rheumatologist, and Raphaela Goldbach-Mansky, M.D., a pediatrician. "I am extremely excited about this clinic," Dr. Lipnick said. "It will provide a tremendous opportunity for training young physicians to diagnose and treat children with rheumatic diseases and for conducting innovative and unique research studies. It also offers children all over the country the chance to participate."
Pediatric rheumatic diseases include juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, dermatomyositis, familial fever syndromes and other chronic diseases that affect the joints, muscles, bones and skin.
The mission of the NIAMS is to support research into the causes, treatment and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases, the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research, and the dissemination of information on the progress of research in these diseases. More information on NIAMS is available at www.nih.gov/niams.
For information on pediatric rheumatic diseases, phone 1-877-22-NIAMS (free call), and for general information on clinical trials at NIH, call 1-800-411-1222.