Rheumatology Clinical Research Unit

The Rheumatology Clinical Research Unit (RCRU) of the Division of Rheumatology has extensive experience in conducting clinical research trials. The RCRU studies diseases that involve arthritis. Arthritis literally means inflammation of a joint.

To learn more about these conditions please click on the links listed below:

The RCRU specializes in clinical trials treatment options for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthropathies (such as ankylosing spondylitis), and gout. The RCRU conducts a number of regional, national, and international studies that are both industry-sponsored and investigator-initiated.

Clinical trials are strictly controlled human studies of new and emerging therapies. At UMass Memorial Medical Center, these trials incorporate state-of-the-art patient care, while carefully evaluating how best to apply the most recent innovations in rheumatology.

The safety of study participants is our top priority. Clinical trials at UMass Memorial Medical Center must first be approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB), which includes doctors, administrators, ethicists, and members of the general public. The IRB provides continuing surveillance of the trial as well as periodic review of study results. Before a treatment can be tested in people, it must be shown to be safe and effective in laboratory and animal studies. Volunteers are fully informed of possible risks and sign a consent form before being accepted into a clinical trial.

The safety and effectiveness of clinical trials are reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That agency determines if and when a clinical trial provides evidence that the treatment under study offers improvements in care that can be made available to all patients with a particular condition.

Before enrolling in a clinical trial, you will undergo the informed consent process. At this time, the investigator will explain the purpose of the trial, its expected benefits, any possible risks or side effects, and what your role will be. This is the time to ask questions !If you want to join the trial, you must sign the informed consent documents. You can leave a clinical trial at any time without penalty.

The director of the RCRU is Jonathan Kay, MD, an authority and researcher in rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of inflammatory arthritis. Other investigators include Ellen M Gravallese, MD, Chief of the Division of Rheumatology; Karen Salomon-Escoto, MD; and Katherine Upchurch, MD.  The RCRU staff consists of Steven Ball, RN, Clinical Research Coordinator.

To learn more about studies involving treatments for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other treatment studies please telephone (508) 334-0221.

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