Leadership Team 2022 – 2023

Meet the leadership team tasked with creating the 2022 – 2023 tournament.

Faculty Leadership

  • David Leverenz, MD is the creator and director of RheumMadness.  He is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology and Immunology.
  • Akrithi Udupa Garren, MD is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Medstar / Georgetown Washington Hospital Center.

Fellow Leaders

  • Guy Katz, MD is a rheumatology fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital.
  • Michael Macklin, MD is a rheumatology fellow at the University of Chicago.
  • Iman Qaiser, MD is a a rheumatology fellow at LSU Health Shreveport.

Resident Leaders

  • Lauren He, MD is a chief resident at the University of Chicago.
  • Ben Kellogg, MD is an internal medicine resident at Duke University.
  • Sabahat Usmani, MD is an internal medicine resident at Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago

Medical Student Leaders

  • Courtney Bair is a medical student at Duke University School of Medicine.
  • Meridith Balbach is a medical student at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
  • Ben Lueck is a medical student at Duke University School of medicine.

Senior Mentorship Team

  • Lisa Criscione-Schreiber, MD, MEd is an advisor and mentor for RheumMadness. She is a Professor of Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology and Immunology.
  • Matthew Sparks, MD is the creator of NephMadness and serves an advisor and mentor for RheumMadness. He is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology.

Write a Scouting Report!

Welcome back to RheumMadness, the place for everyone who is crazy about rheumatology to connect, collaborate, compete, and learn together.

Our theme for the 2023 tournament is RheumMadness: The All Star Season. This season, we will focus on the foundational science that has driven our field to where it is today. Each of the 16 teams in the tournament will represent one “all star” article competing to be named the most important and transformational article ever written in the field of rheumatology.

Apply to write a scouting report!

If you love RheumMadness, please consider applying to write one of the scouting reports for this year’s tournament. This year, we are taking the scouting reports to a whole new level by allowing the scouting report authors to choose their own team.

***Click here to submit your application (link to Qualtrics Survey)***

Here’s what we need in your application:

  1. The names and affiliations of all collaborators in your group who will write the scouting report. We recommend having at least 3 people in your group.
  2. The article that you would like to write about. The article must have been published at least 10 years ago (before 2013), and your group must not include any of the authors on the paper.

Deadline to apply: September 28 at 1:00 pm Eastern Time.

Anyone is welcome to apply to write a scouting report. We welcome applications from fellowship programs, community rheumatology practices, medical student interest groups, or even just a group of friends who share a passion for rheumatology.  In addition, if you’d like to help with a scouting report but you don’t have a group to work with, please email us!  We’d be happy to get you involved.  We are looking forward to a fantastic and fun season filled with collaborative learning about the best specialty in the world.

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We Have a Winner!

The final round of the RheumMadness tournament is complete, and the winner is…

Reproductive health guide was an underdog in this matchup, with 13% of participants picking it to win compared to 26% of participants who picked the juggernaut CAR-T cells.

However, the Blue Ribbon Panel felt differently, voting for Repro health guide in a 6 to 1 landslide. We are sure this won’t be controversial at all!

After the dust settled, the winning brackets in each category are: 

Congratulations to our winners! To see the final results of your bracket, head over to the Tourneytopia website.

Comments from the Panel

By popular demand, we have collected anonymous comments from our fabulous Blue Ribbon Panel about their experience on the panel and why they made the choices they did. Just in case anyone has anything they’d like to say to the panel, you can find each of their Twitter handles on the Blue Ribbon Panel page.

Comment 1: “As a member of the #RheumMadness 2022 Blue Ribbon Panel, my aim was to focus on impact. To me, that means papers that change how we approach a disease, a test, or a treatment. As a pediatric rheumatologist, I was thrilled to see that a paper that focused on pediatric rheumatology made it to the big dance. I voted for ideas or approaches that push us forward as a field, even if they are still works in progress. I was so impressed by the work the teams put into the scouting reports- they definitely worked hard to box out the other teams in the paint. I voted for the increasing positive ANA study, even though it didn’t make it out of the first bracket. I think understanding the relationship between positive autoantibodies, background prevalence of autoantibodies, and autoimmunity will be important moving forward. I learned a lot, had a blast following the competition, and will definitely be back next year to join in the tourney.”

Comment 2: “My dark horse in this race was Axolotl Limbs. I was pulling hard for these amazing amphibians. The more I read about how axolotls regenerated of cartilage, the more I could see the substantial impact leveraging this would have for millions (maybe billions?) of people. All in all, the close votes we have seen the BRP voting really highlight some of the subtle differences in what we individually value as important. For example, is more certain short-term gain more important than high possible (i.e. unrealized) long-term potential? That’s why we play folks!”

Comment 3: “I loved the opportunity to read the base articles as a panel member! I voted NOW over FUTURE, for collaborative efforts, and for tools and knowledge that are broadly applicable. I voted pragmatic over theoretical. My kids tell me this is “adulting” and it makes me boring. Oh well.

I voted for NETs. They are everywhere. Gout and COVID are just the beginning. CAR-T cells are in the future, one great case can’t be the winner. I went with the masses on DECT. Distinguishing between OA, crystal disease and SN disease is one of the hardest things we do. It lacks the luster of distorted vessels and giant cells lighting up the aorta but its use will help avoid mistreating. Also, AI seemed more Elizabeth Holmes than Steve Jobs right now.

I voted for the arthritic canines over adorable Aztec amphibians. Have you seen Fido enthusiastically chase squirrels after a dose of doggie meds? As much as I would love to heal my chronic ankle sprain, I’m taking the dog!!

And my winner….Talking with our patients is our greatest power, more than any therapy or diagnostic tool. To acknowledge the importance of reproductive health, especially right now, and to celebrate the immense collaboration it took, repro health guidelines get the W from me.”

Comment 4: “Many thanks for the invitation to be part of the this year’s RheumMadness event. The scouting reports are phenomenal and the Madness reigns. My personal approach was to generally prioritize practicality over promise. That said, it was tough to not get swept up in the sci-fi like mechanism and potential power of CAR-T cells. In the end, though, a document like the Repro Health Guide gives us an incredible tool in taking care of our patients with rheumatic disease in the now and has my vote. What a remarkable event that creates a yearly reading list for those of us in rheumatology! To many more years of Madness!”

Comment 5: “Repro Health Guidelines should hands down be the winner of the tournament. Like the report said, “we are de facto women’s health providers” reflecting the female predominance in our clinics. These guidelines will help patients and doctors immediately and for a long time to come, impacting clinical practice right now.

With RheumMadness, I always learn a lot about what is going on in the world of rheumatology, including subjects we may miss out on at times, like reports from the Cells region and Animals region. Things I read in RheumMadness are rarely forgotten just because it is so much fun and interactive.

Increasing ANA positivity is a fact we are already quite aware of as rheumatologists – it is our bread and butter. But false positive MRIs for axial spondyloarthropathy usually presents a challenge. More research is needed for MRIs, whereas ANA positivity will hardly change rheumatology practices. This upset was necessary.

No matter how old we get or how much we advance in our careers, there is always a little child inside of us, who just wants to have fun, play with like-minded kids (or colleagues), and have the chance for some trash-talk. RheumMadness is the creative innovation that provided all that with the additional benefit of learning, and whether we know it or not, we really needed it in our day-to-day grind!”

Comment 6: “Participating in the blue ribbon panel was really a fun and educational experience. I really enjoyed reviewing scouting reports on topics I wouldn’t otherwise learn about. It was a great way to interface with the growing knowledge base in rheumatology. I think it was great how the topics were grouped so that the initial advances were very comparable items. I do think it would be hard for some of the more obscure topics to compete against something as impactful as reproductive health guidelines that heavily influence patient care. I really appreciate the opportunity to be part of this panel and found the entire process really rewarding, fun and insightful.”

THANK YOU

Lastly, we would like to thank all our amazing collaborators who helped make RheumMadness possible.

  • Rheumatology Research Foundation for funding RheumMadness through the Clinician Scholar Educator Award.
  • Scouting Report Creators: There were 70 collaborators from 13  institutions involved in writing the scouting reports for RheumMadness 2022. These reports were amazing learning resources and a ton of fun to read. Thank you to these amazing collaborators for helping us learn together! Find links to each scouting report here.
  • Blue Ribbon Panel Members: Belinda Birnbaum, MD, Ashira Blazer, MD, Kevin Byram, MD, Anisha Dua, MD, MPH, Al Kim, MD, PhD, Laura Lewandowski, MS, MD, and Iman Qaiser, MD. Read more about the Blue Ribbon Panel here.
  • RheumMadness Leadership Team: David Leverenz, MD, Akrithi Garren, MD, Guy Katz, MD, Lauren He, MD, Ben Kellog, MD, Michael Macklin, MD, Courtney Bair, Matthew Sparks, MD, and Lisa Criscione-Schreiber, MD, MEd. Read more about the leadership team here.
  • NephMadness collaborators: This project was inspired by a similar project in nephrology called NephMadness, which is currently in its 10th year. We are thankful for their collaboration and mentorship, especially from Dr. Matt Sparks.

It takes a whole year to plan this tournament. If you want to get involved in the leadership team, help create a scouting report, suggest a team, or in some other way help out with RheumMadness, please contact us!

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IgG Four Results

The third round of the RheumMadness tournament is complete! To see how your bracket is doing, head over to the RheumMadness Tourneytopia website

Results for reach matchup in the IgG Four are reviewed below, including how the 7-member Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) voted compared to participant picks. Huge thanks to our amazing panel for their thoughtful consideration.

Overall, the IgG Four turned out as participants expected. The BRP voted for CAR-T cells (6) over Dog osteoarthritis (1) in a landslide. Likewise, 36% of participants picked CAR-T cells to win this round, compared to 5% who thought Dog osteoarthritis would make it to the championship.

The other matchup was similarly lopsided. The BRP voted for Repro health guide (5) over PET in LVV (2). Likewise, 31% of participants picked Repro health guide to win this round, compared to 8% who picked PET in LVV.

Despite all the upsets in the prior three rounds, this is the final matchup that most participants were expecting to see according to Tourneytopia statistics.

So who will win it all? It seems that the majority of participants think CAR-T cells will take the top spot, but will the Blue Ribbon Panel agree? And whose bracket will come out on top?

What’s up next?

Results for the Interleukin Two (finale) will be released on Monday, April 4 at 8pm ET.

Following these results, we will announce the winning participants (ie – top score) in teach of the following 3 categories: (1) Attending / APP, (2) Fellow, and (3) Resident / Medical Student.

The prize is a RheumMadness coffee mug and a lifetime of bragging rights!

While you wait, you can enjoy the following RheumMadness content:

  • New RheumMadness podcast episode where we recap the first two rounds of the tournament with Iman Qaiser (Blue Ribbon Panel member) and other members of the RheumMadness leadership team.
  • Join the conversation on Twitter by tweeting #RheumMadness

We will also release one more RheumMadness podcast episode next week. Stay tuned, the learning isn’t over yet!

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Entheseal Eight Results

The second round of the RheumMadness tournament is complete! To see how your bracket is doing, head over to the RheumMadness Tourneytopia website

Results for reach matchup in the Entheseal Eight are reviewed below, including how the 7-member Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) voted compared to participant picks. Huge thanks to our amazing panel for their thoughtful consideration.

Overall, the Cells region turned out as participants expected. The BRP voted for CAR-T cells (5) over Anti-NET antibodies (2). Likewise, 49% of participants picked CAR-T cells to win this region compared to only 27% of participants who picked Anti-NET antibodies. The remaining 24% of participants picked Cytokine Networks or Pim kinases, which didn’t even make it to this round.

There was a major upset in the Animal House region. The BRP voted for Dog osteoarthritis (4) over Axolotl limbs (3) by a slim margin. However, only 23% of participants picked Dog osteoarthritis to win this region compared to 46% who picked Axolotls. These dogs really dug deep and found their inner peacocks!

The Machines region also features an upset. The BRP voted for PET in LVV (5) over AI: TNFi response (2). However, only 21% of participants picked PET in LVV, slightly less than the 33% who picked AI: TNFi response. It’s looking like it would have taken some machine learning to predict this region!

Finally, there was an absolute blowout in the People region, with Repro health guide (7) demolishing False+ AxSpA MRI (0). Obviously they are both quality teams, but the MRIs just didn’t have it this round. Participants saw this one coming a mile away, with 53% picking Repro Health Guide and only 14% picking False+ AxSpA MRI.

What’s up next?

Results for the next 2 rounds will be released on the following dates:

  • Saturday, April 2: The IgG Four (Round 3)
  • Monday, April 4: The Interleukin Two (Round 4, championship!)

We will also release a new RheumMadness podcast episode where we reflect on the tournament so far. Stay tuned, the learning isn’t over yet!

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Seronegative 16 Results

The first round of the RheumMadness tournament is complete! To see how your bracket is doing, head over to the RheumMadness Tourneytopia website

Results for reach matchup in the Seronegative Sixteen are reviewed below, including how the 7-member Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) voted compared to participant picks. Huge thanks to our amazing panel for their thoughtful consideration. Overall, the first round was incredibly close – 5 of the 8 matchups were decided by a single vote!

There were two major upsets in this first round. The BRP voted for PET in LVV (4 votes) over DECT in gout (3 votes), however the majority of participants favored DECT (53%). In addition, the BRP voted for False+ AxSpA (4) over Increasing +ANA (3), however the majority of participants favored increasing +ANA (57%). Upset city! Did the panel make the right call? Tell us what you think using #RheumMadness.

Cells Region Results

The BRP voted for Anti-NET antibodies (4) over Cytokine Networks (3). Participants also favored Anti-NET (62%).

The BRP voted for CAR-T cells (5) over Pim kinases (2). Participants also favored CAR-T (79%).

Animal House Region Results

The BRP voted for Axolotl limbs (5) over Dinosaur SpA (2). Participants also favored axolotl limbs (69%).

The BRP voted for Dog osteoarthritis (4) over Dalmatian urate (3). Participants also favored Dog OA (58%).

Machines Region Results

The BRP voted for AI: TNFi response (4) over AI: JIA subtypes (3). Participants also favored AI: TNFi response (68%).

The BRP voted for PET in LVV (4) over DECT in gout (3). Participants DISAGREED, favoring DECT (53%). Upset city!

People Region Results

The BRP voted for Repro health guide (6) over TNFi in cord blood (1). Participants also favored Repro health guide (71%)

The BRP voted for False+ AxSpA (4) over Increasing +ANA (3). Participants DISAGREED, favoring Increasing +ANA (57%). Upset city!

What’s up next?

Results for the next 3 rounds will be released on the following dates:

  • Monday, March 28: The Entheseal Eight (Round 2)
  • Saturday, April 2: The IgG Four (Round 3)
  • Monday, April 4: The Interleukin Two (Round 4, championship!)
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RheumMadness is Here!

Bracket entires for RheumMadness 2022 are open! You have until Saturday, March 26, 2022 at 12:01 AM Eastern Standard Time to submit your bracket.

What is RheumMadness?

RheumMadness is a FREE educational tournament for everyone who is crazy about rheumatology. The project is funded by a Clinician Scholar Educator Award from the Rheumatology Research Foundation and inspired by a similar project in nephrology called NephMadness.

How to Play RheumMadness (it’s easy)

  1. Read “scouting reports” to learn about the teams in the tournament.
  2. Submit your picks before Saturday, March 26, 2022 at 12:01 AM ET.
  3. Enjoy the tournament!  Results will be released in 4 rounds from March 26 – April 4, 2022.

How are matches determined?

The winner of each match-up is decided by a 7-member “Blue Ribbon Panel” of rheumatologists. The panel will vote based on which topic they think is most important to patients, providers, and researchers, both now and in the future. The more your picks match those of the panel, the more points you get!  Scroll down to learn more about the panel.

More Questions? Watch this 2 minute explainer video.

What do I get if I win?

Participants with the most correct predictions will “win” RheumMadness. Prizes will be given to participants with the top scores in the following categories: (1) Attending / APP, (2) Fellow, and (3) Resident / Medical Student. The prize is a custom RheumMadness coffee mug and a lifetime of bragging rights. But really, everyone wins in RheumMadness because you get to connect, collaborate, compete, and learn together.

The 2022 Blue Ribbon Panel

We are thankful to have an amazing panel with diverse interests, areas of expertise, and practice settings.

  • Belinda Birnbaum, MD, rheumatologist at the Bryn Mawr Medical Specialists Association in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Follow her at @BelindaBirnbaum
  • Ashira Blazer, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). Follow her at @ashira_md.
  • Kevin Byram, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), Co-director of The Vanderbilt Vasculitis Clinic, and Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Rheumatology Fellowship Program. Follow him at @kwbyram.
  • Anisha Dua, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, Director of the Northwestern Rheumatology Fellowship Program and Director of the Vasculitis Center. Follow her at @anisha_dua.
  • Al Kim, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (WUSTL), Co-director of the WUSTL Lupus Clinic. Follow him at @alhkim.
  • Laura Lewandowski, MS, MD, Assistant Clinical Investigator at the National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), and Head of the Lupus Genomics and Global Health Disparities Unit. Follow her at @LauraLewMad11.
  • Iman Qaiser, MD, first-year rheumatology fellow at LSU Health Shreveport. Follow her at @imanqwho.

More ways to connect with RheumMadness

  1. Listen to the RheumMadness podcast. In this podcast series, we dive deeper into each team, interview fellows who wrote the scouting reports, and highlight themes of diversity, equity, and inclusion as they relate to the learning concepts in RheumMadness
    You can find the podcast on all major podcasting apps.
  2. Join the conversation on Twitter (#RheumMadness).
  3. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated with all things RheumMadness!

The Bracket is Complete!

Behold, the full bracket for RheumMadness 2022! What happens next? Bracket submissions will open on Monday, March 14, and the first round of the tournament will happen on Saturday, March 26.

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The Scouting Reports

Over 70 collaborators from 13 institutions wrote the scouting reports for RheumMadness 2022. This includes 43 fellows, 23 faculty, 3 residents, and 1 medical student. What an amazing collaboration! We are also thankful to collaborate with the editorial staff of the Rheumatologist. Each report is available on their website, and we have posted links here so you can find them.

Use the links below to access each scouting report:

Scouting Report Archive

Click here to access the scouting reports from RheumMadness 2021

People Region

By now, you have probably realized that the other regions are also about people. But this region is REALLY about people. The People Region challenges participants to explore an often neglected area of care: reproductive health and treatment during pregnancy. In addition, the region explores what’s “normal” in people, given recent evidence of increasing ANA positivity and a high prevalence of MRI findings that look like SpA in healthy young adults. Power to the people!

Reproductive Health Guide, written by the Duke University Rheumatology Fellowship Program: Catherine Sims, MD; Sonali Bracken, MD, PhD; Megan Milne, MD; Nathaniel Harris, MD, PhD; Poorva Apte, MD; Lena Eder, MD; Lisa Criscione-Schreiber, MD, Med; Megan Clowse, MD; & David Leverenz, MD

TNFi in Cord Blood, written by Lauren He, MD & Cuoghi Edens, MD from the University of Chicago School of Medicine

Increasing positive ANA, written by Lauren He, MD; Ana B. Arevalo, MD; & Kichul Ko, MD from the University of Chicago School of Medicine

False positive MRI in Axial Spondyloarthritis, written by the University of South Florida Rheumatology Fellowship Program: Anastasiya (Stacy) Bagrova, MD; Shreya Gor, MD; Joanne Valeriano-Marcet, MD; Larry Young, MD; & John Carter, MD

Click here to see the full bracket and read more scouting reports for RheumMadness 2022.

How to Play RheumMadness

Bracket submissions for the 2022 tournament will open March 14, 2022. For updates, you can join our email newsletter, listen to the RheumMadness Podcast, and/or join the conversation on Twitter using #RheumMadness. Important dates for RheumMadness 2022 are below:

  • Monday, March 14: Bracket entries open
  • Friday, March 24: Bracket entries close
  • Saturday, March 25: Round 1
  • Monday, March 28: Round 2
  • Saturday, April 2: Round 3
  • Monday, April 4: Round 4

Want to learn more about RheumMadness?

For a quick summary, head to our “RheumMadness 101” page and/or read our write-up in the July 2021 issue of The Rheumatologist.

Blue Ribbon Panel 2022

We are thrilled to introduce the Blue Ribbon Panel for RheumMadness 2022.  This panel of distinguished rheumatologists will vote to determine which teams advance in the tournament.  The more your predictions match those of the panel, the more points you will get in the tournament!  Learn more about our panelists below.

Belinda Birnbaum, MD, is a rheumatologist at the Bryn Mawr Medical Specialists Association in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Follow her at @BelindaBirnbaum

Ashira Blazer, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). Follow her at @ashira_md.

Kevin Byram, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), Co-director of The Vanderbilt Vasculitis Clinic, and Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Rheumatology Fellowship Program. Follow him at @kwbyram.

Anisha Dua, MD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, Director of the Northwestern Rheumatology Fellowship Program and Director of the Vasculitis Center. Follow her at @anisha_dua.

Al Kim, MD, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (WUSTL), Co-director of the WUSTL Lupus Clinic. Follow him at @alhkim.

Laura Lewandowski, MS, MD, is an Assistant Clinical Investigator at the National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), and Head of the Lupus Genomics and Global Health Disparities Unit. Follow her at @LauraLewMad11.

Iman Qaiser, MD, is a first-year rheumatology fellow at LSU Health Shreveport. Follow her at @imanqwho.

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