Pediatric 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. These endeavors have fostered new approaches to diagnosis, treatment and translational research for many of these conditions, including:

  • Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM)
  • Juvenile Scleroderma
  • Childhood Onset Arthritis
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
  • Vasculitis
  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)

Division physicians participate in national multicenter research coordinated through the Pediatric Rheumatology Collaborative Study Group (PRCSG), which focuses on drug trials, and the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA), which focuses on disease management. They are also active in the International Myositis Assessment and Clinical Studies Group (IMACS).

Other research interests in the division include:

  • Patient-reported outcomes
  • Measures of disease activity and remission
  • Biomarkers of disease activity
  • Patient registries documenting natural history of pediatric rheumatic diseases and treatment outcomes
  • Medical education

Dr. Klein-Gitelman’s Research

Dr. Marisa Klein-Gitelman's research includes projects investigating disease outcomes and the burden of childhood rheumatic diseases. Dr. Klein-Gitelman is the site investigator for CARRA and PRCSG multicenter projects. She is also involved in projects investigating pediatric lupus including:

  • Evaluation of thinking processes at onset of lupus and potential damage over time.
  • Evaluation of genetic risk factors for lupus.
  • Assessment of tools to monitor pediatric lupus disease activity and damage.
  • Assessment of potential markers that detect the onset of disease activity.

Dr. Pachman’s Research

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. The Pachman Laboratory uses translational and collaborative team approaches to study juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM), an often chronic pediatric systemic vasculopathy of unknown etiology. JDM is associated with inflammation in the skin, as well as in the proximal musculature – resulting in extensive weakness. The goal of their studies is to discover biomarkers of disease activity to guide the utilization and/or creation of more effective therapies.

Dr. Miller’s Research

Dr. Michael Miller’s research interests include health related quality of life in children with arthritis and related conditions. Dr. Miller studies the relationship of quality of life to disease subtype, severity, and related characteristics. This research will help improve outcomes by identifying those children as early as possible who will benefit from individualized coordinated medical and non-medical treatment. In his administrative role as Director, Research Informatics, Dr. Miller assists other researchers at Lurie Children’s Hospital in obtaining data from the electronic medical record and other data sources.

Dr. Curran’s Research

Dr. Megan Curran's research interests in pediatric rheumatology reside in the fields of medical education, juvenile dermatomyositis and systemic sclerosis. Her goal is to improve medical student, resident, and fellow education about pediatric rheumatology. Education projects include developing a website about pediatric rheumatology & musculoskeletal education and organizing an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) for pediatric rheumatology fellows.

Dr. Ardalan’s Research

Dr. Kaveh Ardalan’s research interests and expertise are in patient-reported outcomes, outcomes research, psychometrics, qualitative research (specifically with children and families). He has a secondary appointment in the Department of Medical Social Sciences and is working on multidisciplinary research projects there to examine physical activity in juvenile myositis.