Medical College of Wisconsin Rheumatology Research

The Rheumatology Division of the Medical College of Wisconsin is actively involved with both basic research and clinical studies.

Basic Research

One focus where we continue to make great strides is in understanding cartilage biology. Cartilage is certainly a crucial structure within the joints. Damage to the cartilage leads to loss of function and considerable discomfort. We continue to educate future generations of clinical rheumatologists and researchers in the arthritis arena.

Physician and patient hands desk discussion

Clinical Research

The Division of Rheumatology is currently conducting clinical trials in the areas of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus, scleroderma and systemic sclerosis. Studies are funded through the pharmaceutical industry or other research institutes including Johns Hopkins and the Hospital for Joint Diseases through a grant from the NIH.

The clinical studies conducted at the Medical College of Wisconsin are exciting and may help people improve the quality of life they lead. Working with other sites and with the pharmaceutical industry, we hope to bring these innovative treatments to the public.

Current Clinical Trials

If you would like more information or clarification about any of our ongoing clinical trials, please call Kiley Timler, Clinical Research Coordinator at (414) 955-6875.

View research resources and information on clinical trials

Lupus Research

Lupus research currently underway includes exciting collaborations with regional academic centers with a shared interest in lupus disparities, retention in care and medication adherence. Locally, a unique investigator-initiated pilot study has measured levels of apathy in a lupus cohort compared to healthy and diseased state control. We suspect apathy may be a central and potentially modifiable factor in medication non-adherence and may correlate with lupus disease activity. Additionally, the Lupus Clinic offers a setting for patient participation in industry sponsored clinical trials in systemic lupus erythematosus and specifically lupus nephritis.

Crystal Research

MCW has a longstanding research program devoted to understanding clinical and pathophysiologic aspects of calcium crystal-associated arthritis. This program began in the 1970’s with ground-breaking studies of calcium pyrophosphate deposition disease (CPDD). The original physician-scientists who started this program were also responsible for the initial descriptions of basic calcium phosphate (BCP)-associated arthritis now known as Milwaukee Shoulder Syndrome.

The Rosenthal Laboratory has continued this important work. The laboratory is situated at the Zablocki VA Medical Center and has been federally funded since 1996. Dr. Rosenthal has focused most of her work on studies of calcium pyrophosphate crystal formation. She began by identifying mechanisms and modulators of pyrophosphate production by cartilage cells. More recently she has been using genetic abnormalities responsible for familial CPDD to study novel pathogenic mechanisms of crystal formation. These studies involve in-vitro experiments with bone and cartilage tissues, as well as work with novel mouse models. Dr. Rosenthal has also worked with data from the national VA Health Care system to characterize CPDD and its sequelae in the US veteran population. She collaborates with investigators at Washington University in St. Louis, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. Her laboratory is well-staffed with expert research associates and has served as a training ground for numerous rheumatology fellows, residents, and medical students. Dr. Rosenthal is the author of over 100 papers, chapters and invited reviews and frequently speaks on CPDD at national and international meetings.

Human Genome Sciences and PPD Development

“A Multi-Center, Open Label Continuation Trial of Lympho Stat B Antibody (Monoclonal Anti-BLyS Antibody) in Subjects with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) who completes the Phase 2 Protocol LBSL02, Protocol LBSL99.” Enrollment ended but study is ongoing.

(Consortium of Rheumatology Researchers of North America, Inc.) CORRONA

 This research initiative is a data registry of patients with inflammatory arthritis. Only patients that are seen in the rheumatology clinic by Dr. M.E. Csuka are currently enrolling and must have the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis.

The purpose of the registry is to understand the natural history of these conditions and to improve the understanding of treatment in clinical practice as opposed to pharmaceutical-sponsored clinical trials. All subjects complete paperwork at their regularly scheduled rheumatology appointments.

The registry collects data on 14,000 patients at 92 sites around the country, making it the largest registry in rheumatology that collects data from both rheumatologists and patients. Particular aspects of the rheumatology specialty, such as the need to treat patients with complex conditions and use a variety of treatment options, make a national database particularly important.