August 2022 President’s Report

November 13, 2022

Dear Friends,

As I take on the role of CARRA President, I am reminded of a quote from Bill Gates:

“Surround yourself with people who challenge you, teach you,and push you to be your best self.”

With a few more ingredients, that’s a pretty good recipe for academic success,forming the environment in which most of us thrive. It’s why CARRA developed into the successful organization we are today: With clarity of purpose in an inclusive and collaborative environment that thrives on the formula that we can accomplish much more by working together than by going it alone.

An important component of CARRA’s success results from strong, visionary, and selfless leadership.

“Leaders are those who empower others”

also from Bill Gates. (OK, enough from Bill Gates.)

As your President, I look forward to working closely with our new Vice President, Stacy Ardoin; Treasurer, Jay Mehta; Past President, Emily von Scheven; our interim CEO, Larry Hausner, and many others to empower all CARRA members to continue to advance our mission and organization.

The last two and a half years tremendously impacted how people do things, to say the least. But in the face of all the unprecedented challenges brought on by the pandemic, CARRA never wavered in our mission, seeking opportunities to facilitate productivity, rapidly evolving to maintain our progress in combating pediatric rheumatic diseases.

Today, it’s a little hard to imagine ever conducting a committee meeting on the phone, not using a video platform. Yet even most introverts admit to missing in-person meetings, social events, and the spontaneous workplace and conference interactions that generate new ideas and projects. As we adjust to our “new normals”of life dealing with SARS-CoV-2 and its offspring, I nonetheless resolutely look forward to seeing everyone at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the ACR in Philadelphia as well as CARRA’s own Annual Scientific Meeting in March 2023!

Among other news, CARRA has a new Strategic Plan! Thanks to the efforts of many members, our CEO and Board of Directors, we developed and approved a roadmap for 2023-2025. The pillars of the new plan are:

  • Achieving Research Excellence
  • Leveraging Community Engagement
  • Ensuring Organizational Excellence
  • Embracing and Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility.

I look forward to really digging in to implement the strategies outlined for these focus areas. One of the first,most critical steps direct us to establish a research agenda to prioritize where to invest our resources. Please think about knowledge gaps and unmet needs across the spectrum of pediatric rheumatic disease so that when we call, you’ll be ready to pitch in!

It’s a great time to be a researcher – whether you’re busy trying to unlock the deepest secrets of our genome and epigenome in health and disease, or you’re studying ways to implement new research findings in practice.There’s plenty to do and amazing tools with which to work.

Next, we recently announced eight research grant awards totaling more than $1.12 million for research to improve outcomes in pediatric rheumatic diseases including JIA, made possible through our strong partnership with the Arthritis Foundation (AF). And, for the first time, this year’s grant portfolio includes Career Development Awards for two early career investigators and an Implementation Science Testing Grant.

Also in partnership with the AF, CARRA created a Consensus Treatment Plan (CTP) Task Force to explore opportunities to enhance CTP development, implementation and assessment. Stacey Tarvin, Cagri Toruner and Tim Beukelman lead this effort, with important participation from others including AF representatives. The Task Force assesses needs and barriers via several methods including surveys of patients, families, providers, and research coordinators and also partners with an implementation science team led by Maria Fernandez at UT Houston. Please complete your survey if you have not done so already!

While my message provides only a brief update on a few of the many exciting things going on in CARRA, I hope you share my enthusiasm for working together on our continuous journey toward a world free of limitations from pediatric rheumatic diseases!

I look forward to working with you!

Bob Colbert