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VA New England Healthcare System


VA Boston Researchers to be Honored for Arthritis Treatment Breakthrough

November 21, 2014


BOSTON – The National Arthritis Foundation has chosen a VA Cooperative Studies Program Coordinating Center to receive the 2014 Lee C. Howley Sr. Prize for Arthritis Research.

The VA Boston Health Care System’s Cooperative Studies Program Coordinating Center (CSPCC) participated as members of the national team, and substantially contributed to the design, execution and analysis of the trial, which occurred at 16 VA hospitals throughout the country.

The CSP # 551 conducted the trial titled “Rheumatoid Arthritis: Comparison of Active Therapies (RACAT),” which was funded by the VA CSPCC, and the research findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in July 2013.

The purpose of the prestigious award is to recognize team science in action that will lead to a faster cure for arthritis and related diseases.

The team's work will allow many patients with rheumatoid arthritis to be treated in a more cost-effective manner without taking away from their quality of care. More importantly, the study questioned the leading therapeutic strategies of the time and will lead to important changes in treating patients with rheumatoid arthritis in the VA.

This scientific award is made possible by a generous endowment by the Howley family, and is presented by the Arthritis Foundation in recognition of the best original research conducted in the United States by an interdisciplinary team that has had their work published in a peer reviewed journal between July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014.

Michael E. Charness, M.D., Chief of Staff, VA Boston Healthcare System, recognized the significance of the team’s achievement saying, “Congratulations to the entire CSP 551 team! Your work is what makes VA unparalleled in generating the evidence that changes the practice of medicine.”

Associate Chief of Staff-Research & Development, Terence M. Keane, PH.D., expressed his compliments to the team saying, “A remarkable achievement. Congratulations to the entire team. This is really an impressive accomplishment.”

James O’Dell, MD, the study chairperson, worked out of the VA in Omaha, Neb., CSP. O’Dell and the study team will be honored November 21 at a black-tie event in Atlanta where a video production about the study will be presented. 

To read the New England Journal of Medicine article titled “Therapies for Active Rheumatoid Arthritis after Methotrexate Failure,” go to the external link at: