Rheumatologists have witnessed many exciting and important developments in the diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to patients with rheumatologic disorders. For well over a decade, greater understanding of the immunologic basis of autoimmune disorders has resulted in the introduction of targeted biologic therapies in the clinic. Novel agents have revolutionized the care of patients with diverse rheumatologic disorders including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), gout, vasculitis, and others. Driven by the success of such therapeutic advances, there has been tremendous research and interest in developing additional therapies. Moreover, both newer as well as established therapies are being used in novel treatment paradigms that have the promise of achieving better clinical outcomes for our patients. Arguably even more notable than the progress in the therapeutic approach to rheumatic diseases has been the important developments related to diagnosis and stratification of patients. For example, committees from the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), and the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) have published new classification criteria for RA as well as criteria for defining remission. In other areas – notably safety – new data remains an area of interest.
Because of rapid progress in the field, the latest developments are often highlighted at scientific congresses. In many cases, information from clinical trials is presented at meetings many months or even years ahead of its ultimate publication in journals. Scientific data appears in the media or on the Internet long before it is presented in medical journals! Because this important new information is relevant to the clinical care of patients, it is critical that the latest information be rapidly disseminated. Hence, there is great value in a careful and systematic review of the latest information, for example, data presented at rheumatology congresses; in particular, the annual meetings of the ACR and the EULAR. In order to accomplish this we have assembled an outstanding faculty of superlative lecturers who have extensive expertise in these areas.
Arthur Kavanaugh, MD