The Rheumatology Research Foundation

This is the third article in a series about non-profit organizations devoted to rheumatoid arthritis. The Rheumatology Research Foundation (RRF) is the largest, nonprofit private funding source of rheumatology research in the United States. It is officially associated with the American College of Rheumatology that represents rheumatologists and associated health care professionals. The RRF is a top rated charity by Charity Navigator for fiscal management, transparency, and accountability. Below is an interview with Shelley Malcolm, the Director of Communications and Marketing for the RRF.

What is the main goal of the foundation?

As the number of individuals diagnosed with a rheumatic disease continues to rise, the Rheumatology Research Foundation plays a critical role in training the rheumatology professionals to meet this demand and improve patient care for each and every patient. The Foundation is transforming medicine through its tireless commitment to recruitment and training of rheumatology professionals to provide patients with the latest treatment and care.

What is the history and why was it founded?

The Foundation was established in 1985 to expand the field of rheumatology. Since its founding, the Foundation has funded more than $116 million providing more than 2,300 awards and grants to medical and graduate students, residents, fellows, physicians and health professionals. Some 77 percent of Foundation grant recipients have gone on to receive funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Who serves in leadership and advisory capacities?

The Foundation is comprised of a core group of rheumatologists, scientists and researchers that are committed to ensuring the field of rheumatology and the care of patients with rheumatic diseases. The 2013-2014 board of directors includes 16 physicians, researchers, and other healthcare professionals.

What are some of the activities of the Foundation?

As the largest private funding source of rheumatology research and training in the United States, the Foundation is constantly working towards advancing the field. First, the Foundation funds training. The funding is used to help recruit medical and doctoral students into rheumatology along with supporting non-physicians working in the field. To date, the Foundation has funded:

  • 1019 Preceptorships
  • 287 Annual Meeting Abstract Awards
  • 558 Education and Training Awards
  • 312 Career Development Research Awards
  • 98 Targeted Research
  • 63 Lectureships

The Foundation also facilitates vital rheumatology research that leads to improved patient outcomes for people living with a rheumatic disease – and ultimately, this research may lead to a cure.

How can people get involved with the work of the organization?

Patients can donate, share their stories, subscribe to the monthly newsletter, and access various organization resources.

How are donations used?

Donations play a vital role in advancing research and treatment of rheumatic diseases. On average, 90 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to research and training. A peer review process modeled after the National Institutes of Health where scientists and experts review research proposals for rigor, integrity and quality. Donations are used to fund only the best research.

Tell about some of the most recent and exciting work of the organization.

The Foundation will be launching new websites in 2015. One focus is on American College of Rheumatology members and the second is on patients. The goal is to give these audiences a better understanding at the current work and efforts of the Foundation. A few features include an interactive tour of a research facility, case study videos and features of some of the top researchers funded by the Foundation.

What makes the foundation unique?

It is the largest not-for-profit organization funding essential research and training for rheumatologists, health professionals and researchers. Along with advancing the profession, the Foundation’s efforts ultimately leads to improvements in patient outcomes. In other words, the critical research and training funded by the Foundation is bringing us one step closer to a cure.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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