Final Results and Thank You!

What an amazing ending to RheumMadness 2024! In the end, NORD-STAR cut down the nets as the most practically perfect concept in the tournament!

To see how your bracket did, head over to the RheumMadness Tourneytopia website.

Below is a detailed analysis of the entire tournament.  We’d also like to highlight all the amazing people who collaborated to make this tournament the best one yet – see below.

Final Match-up: NORD-STAR defeats ADIRA 6-1

The cinderella run is over for ADIRA, as NORD-STAR completely stomped them in the final matchup of the season.

Here’s what the Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) had to say in support of NORD-STAR:

  1. NORD-STAR is our North Star! Important trial, awesome graphic, great scouting report.
  2. What a pairing in the championship game! I didn’t see this coming. However, they do answer some very important practical questions that we have in rheumatology. I went with NORD-STAR because while diet is an important component to our management, finding the right pharmacotherapy is going to be the major key in establishing early remission and preventing long-term complications.
  3. This is truly a David vs Goliath matchup for the rheum madness championship. ADIRA overcomes significant odds to reach the national final. Diet is a modest yet important part of controlling inflammation of RA. That being said, NORD STAR confirms the most significant discovery of the last 30 years, biologics have revolutionized the way that we manage our RA patients and reduced the long term disability of the disease. One could argue that we should be using biologics at time of diagnosis. What an amazing 2-3 weeks of tournament action. Congrats to NORD STAR on a historic win and Vanderbilt University for an excellent scouting report.
  4. Dietary changes are important, but patients still need immunosuppressants to significantly improve disease activity and limit joint damage from RA. NORD-STAR informs clinicians that biologics are superior to conventional DMARD’s and provides data on head-to-head comparison of commonly used biologics. For the rheumatologist taking care of patient with RA, this study is ‘practically perfect’ !
  5. Innovative design – one of the first of many trials that will be done in rheumatology field in coming years
  6. Early RA paradigm changes

The lone dissenting opinion on the panel had this to say:

  1. “Both are excellent studies, both have an excellent graphic will large images and not too wordy to get across the meaning. Therefore, I had to go by the workup. My nod goes to ADIRA because NORD-STAR used way too many basketball terms that many people (non-basketball fans) would know. Though this is fashioned off of “March Madness,” it is always important to know your audience. Although ADIRA mentioned “Christian Laettner” (whoever that is… yeah, maybe I live under a rock), NORD-STAR used way too many unrecognizable terms. However, GREAT JOB to both teams and congratulations for making it to the finals!”
Did they get it right? Here’s a breakdown of all participant picks for the winner of RheumMadness 2024.
Team Name Votes (N) %
COVID Vax Guide 15 14%
NORD-STAR 13 12%
SAPHYR 10 9%
ORAL Surveillance 8 7%
LLDAS 6 5%
Comparing ULT 5 5%
MTX Myths 5 5%
GCA Score 4 4%
RA-ILD Review 4 4%
Precision OA 3 3%
ADIRA 1 1%
VITAL 0 0%


Participant Winners

This year, we received 111 bracket submissions from participants in at least 13 different countries. Here’s a breakdown of who submitted a bracket for RheumMadness 2024:

  • Attending: 47%
  • Fellow: 27%
  • Resident: 10%
  • Medical Student: 4%
  • APP: 2%
  • Patient/interested citizen: 4%
  • Other health care professional: 2%
  • Chose not to answer: 6%

Prizes are awarded for participants who submitted a bracket in three categories: 1) Attending / APP, (2) Fellow, and (3) Resident / Medical Student. Members of the RheumMadness Leadership team are not eligible to receive these prizes. This year, the prizes go to:

  • Attending / APP: korourke (19 points, link shows their bracket)
  • Fellow: we have a tie between larneson and jointmaster (17 points, links show their brackets).  Ultimately, jointmaster takes the ultimate prize for the most correct picks in round 2 (see rules below).
  • Resident / Medical Student: This was another tie between EliteMethotrexAte, irenolizumab, and BursaBallin (17 points, links show their brackets), however EliteMethotrexAte takes the prize because they had 6 correct picks in round 1 AND they submitted earlier than irenolizumab.  Whew, that was close!

What do we do when there’s a tie?  We actually have rules for this!  The rules state: “In the event that two (2) or more top-scoring contestants are tied, the prize will go to the contestant with the highest number of correctly predicted final four (4) medical concepts in the tournament. Further tie breakers, if needed, will be determined by the contestant with the highest number of correctly predicted medical concepts each preceding round (the eight [8] top concepts and the sixteen [16] top concepts). If a tie is still present, the contestant who submitted the earlier/earliest entry will be selected.”

Thank you so much to everyone who played!


Time to Say Thank You

Thank you to the Rheumatology Research Foundation for supporting this project with the Clinician Scholar Educator (CSE) Award and to the leaders of NephMadness for allowing us to borrow their amazing educational model to create RheumMadness. Most importantly, thank you to the amazing scouting report authors (all 90 of them!) for their amazing contributions to this tournament.


Thanks to theMednet.Org

We would also like to thank for collaborating with us to create even more content for this year’s RheumMadness tournament. theMednet is a physician only site providing a space for physicians to tackle difficult clinical questions and see how colleagues are practicing. theMednet is featuring select Q&A relevant to articles in our 2024 tournament and will provide a space for further discussion and polling around clinical application. Register here for a free account with full access to the site and RheumMadness content!

Here’s a complete list of the Q&As on related to RheumMadness 2024:

  1. • Do you recommend Vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acid supplementation for prevention of autoimmune disease?
  2. • How do you approach selecting biologic therapy vs non-biologic DMARD (such as methotrexate) as initial therapy in patients with new RA diagnosis with significant erosive disease?
  3. • Are there patients with gout in whom you would choose febuxostat first line over allopurinol for urate lowering therapy?
  4. • What characteristics make a PMR patient a good candidate for sarilumab?
  5. • How will you sequence therapies in dermatomyositis given the results of the ProDERM trial?
  6. • How do you counsel patients who prefer to continue TNFi therapy indefinitely for rheumatoid arthritis despite long-standing remission?
  7. • What is your approach to practical monitoring of lupus disease activity in clinical practice?
  8. • How do you make the decision to empirically treat for GCA when a patient is referred but cannot be immediately seen in clinic?
  9. • How do you counsel patients on the benefits of diet and exercise in OA in a way that motivates them to comply?


Thanks to the Blue Ribbon Panel

Next, we’d like to thank our amazing Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP). This panel worked hard to review each article and scouting report, and they didn’t mind taking the heat for all those upsets. Thank you so much to our panelists!


Thanks to the 2023 RheumMadness Leadership Team

Finally, we’d like to thank all the members of the RheumMadness Leadership Team for the 2023 tournament.  Our leadership team is comprised of attendings, fellows, residents, and medical students from multiple different institutions.

Faculty Leadership

  • David Leverenz, MD, MEd 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.
  • Guy Katz, MD is an Instructor in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.
  • Iman Qaiser, MD is a a rheumatologist at Choctaw Nation
  • 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.

Fellow Leaders

  • Laura Arneson, MD is a rheumatology fellow at Northwestern
  • Lauren He, MD is a rheumatology fellow at the University of Michigan.
  • Ben Kellogg, MD is a rheumatology fellow at Duke University.
  • Michael Macklin, MD is a rheumatology fellow at the University of Chicago.

Resident Leaders

  • Meridith Balbach, MD is an internal medicine resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
  • Amanda Rodriguez, DO is an internal medicine resident at Lankenau Medical Center
  • Sabahat Usmani, MD is a chief resident at Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago
  • Eric Wilson, MD is an internal medicine resident at Duke University

Medical Student Leaders

  • Courtney Bair is a medical student at Duke University School of Medicine.
  • Ben Lueck is a medical student at Duke University School of medicine.


Finally, thank YOU for playing.  We can’t wait to do this again next year!

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