Outgoing president touts OARSI legacy, renewed drive to ‘build bridges’ internationally
TORONTO — OARSI has positioned itself to continue to be a leader in the fight against osteoarthritis as the premier organization for scientists and health care professionals working in this disease state today, according to outgoing president Jeffrey N. Katz, MD, MSc.
“I would like to use this presidential address to remind us what OARSI is,” Katz, director of the Orthopedic and Arthritis Center for Outcomes Research in the department of orthopedic surgery and division of rheumatology, immunology and allergy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in his presidential address.
“I would like to spend just a few minutes addressing the question of what have OARSI and its members been up to this past year,” Katz said. He highlighted trials demonstrating the structural effects of OA, substantial evidence of novel therapies modifying disease progression, and the number of novel agents currently in the pipeline.
“There is much to be excited about,” he said. “The therapeutic armamentarium for disease modification will be changing dramatically over the next couple of years.”
Katz also noted that over the past few recent years, OARSI researchers have offered new insights into pain and inflammation, while other investigators have pursued biomechanical, metabolic, rehabilitative, psychological, and other health factors that pertain to OA progression and management. “Perhaps that is just a thumbnail of what is to come over the next couple of days,” Katz said of the annual Congress.
The updated guidelines for knee, hip, and polyarticular OA are also worth noting, according to Katz. “They are actually quite innovative,” he said. “They incorporated diverse phenotypes and patient features.”
In terms of regulation, Katz said that osteoarthritis as a disease state continues to be guided by a document from 1999, at least as far as the FDA is concerned. He suggested that the 2016 OARSI white paper which laid out future challenges for clinicians managing the disease and a letter to the FDA in 2018 are positive steps, but more work needs to be done on the regulatory front.
“We are also taking the ‘I’ in OARSI seriously,” Katz said, highlighting events in locations from Beijing and Guangzhou to Dublin, India, Cleveland, Texas, and Brazil. “These events, most of which have occurred out of the U.S. and Europe, have been part of an effort to bridge into communities in less developed countries.”
Katz added that the board is committed to having the 2023 Annual Congress in Asia, in a site to be determined. The current meeting boasts 1,200 attendees and 790 abstracts, according to Katz.
Katz opened the awards portion of the program by recognizing the efforts of OARSI executive director, Diann Stern, MS, CAE, who will be retiring this year.
He then went on to bestow the Lifetime Achievement award to Virginia Kraus, MD, PhD, professor in the departments of medicine, pathology, and orthopedic surgery at Duke University Medical Center. “She has made major contributions to the development, validation and qualification of biomarkers in OA,” Katz said.
Katz also recognized conference chairs, Tuhina Neogi, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, and Ingrid Meulenbelt, PhD, professor of molecular biology of osteoarthritis and head of the OA research group within the Molecular Epidemiology section and the department of biomedical data sciences at Leiden University.
“Tuhina and Ingrid have worked with a hardworking and productive program committee,” Katz said.
The Basic Science Research Award went to Frank Beier, PhD, Canada Research Chair in Musculoskeletal Health at Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, while the Clinical Research Award went to David Hunter, PhD, Florance and Cope Chair of Rheumatology, and chair of Institute of Bone and Joint Research at the University of Sydney.
“We continue to struggle with a formidable foe in osteoarthritis,” Katz concluded. “There continues to be much work to be done. But our society is strong and sound, both structurally and financially.” —by Rob Volansky
Katz J. Opening Ceremony. Presented at: OARSI 2019 World Congress on Osteoarthritis; May 2-5; Toronto, Canada.