Dr. Joan Merrill

February 27, 2018 7:52 pm Published by

Dr. Merrill is the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) Professor of Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She is the Director of Clinical Projects (OMRF) and Chief Advisor for Clinical Development (Lupus Foundation of America, LFA). She founded the Oklahoma Lupus Cohort in 2001 which she co-directs. She obtained her medical degree from Cornell University, trained in Internal Medicine at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital and in Rheumatology at NYU.

Her research focus has been on pathophysicology and clinical pharmacobiology for lupus, with over 250 peer-reviewed publications; these have led to numerous public and private grant awards for investigator-initiated trials linked to pharmacodynamic investigations. Current examples include a study of B cell changes after belimumab treatment (based on a Bliss-activity signature test), and a study of pathophysicologic changes that accompany MRI-proven worsening/improvement in lupus arthritis after treatment with methotrexate, among others. These studies are based on the BOLD trial design which limits background treatments, so more interpretable data in smaller trials are obtained.

She has been a site-level Principal Investigator in more than 50 multicenter lupus clinical trials, being the overall principal or coordinating investigator for many of them, consulting for pharmaceutical companies on trial design and data management. She created the LFA Physicians Online Training Program, international reference and training center for lupus trial outcome measures. She also designed the ALBERTO (Activity of Lupus Web-Based Evaluation and Record of Trial Outcomes) system, which provides state of the art data management, including remote monitoring, edit checks, and pattern-finding reports to improve the quality of lupus trial data.

Dr. Merrill is an expert in the care of lupus patients, and has received the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Edmund Dubois Memorial Lectureship Award, the PHRMA Research and Hope Award, and several named endowed lectures: The Ira Goldstein Award (NYU), The Cogan Lecture (Maine), The Pemberton Lecture (Philadelphia) and the Einbender Lecture (Missouri). She has delivered talks at national and international meetings of the ACR, Inflammation Research Association, American Society of Transplantation, American Congress on Women’s Health, National Medical Association, Clinical Immunology, EULAR and Lupus Meetings and National Societies across the world, and at many State Rheumatology Associations and universities in the United States.

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