My name is Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez, and I am the face of arthritis research.
I have a keen interest in the ways in which adipose tissue affect disease processes, including osteoarthritis. The concept of metabolic obesity has been described for several years now, but we are only starting to understand the ways in which this may impact disease.
My research explores the connection and intersection of osteoarthritis and obesity. While there’s a common understanding that bearing excess weight increases the risk of OA in the knee and other joints, other factors associated with obesity may actually play an important role in the development of OA.
We know, for instance, that not everyone with OA has a weight problem. Nor do all obese individuals develop OA. Therefore, it is important that we learn more about what obesity is and how it is associated with osteoarthritis so that we can develop appropriate interventions. My data show that obesity consists of more than just large body size. My research examines compounds released by fat that potentially pose risk factors for osteoarthritis over and above the impact of body size. Discovering ways to control these risk factors may prove an important strategy in reducing the burden of osteoarthritis.
I draw inspiration for my research from the experiences of my mother who has OA. While no one individual is entirely representative of the disease process, I think that testimony from those with OA helps researchers develop new and creative ways of thinking about the disease.
The Arthritis Foundation plays a major role in the advancement of arthritis research including financial support of research activities; coordination and planning of meetings designed to encourage collaboration among investigators; and leading efforts to disseminate research findings to the general community. Most importantly, perhaps is the Arthritis Foundation’s role in advocacy for arthritis research – they have done an amazing job developing materials highlighting the impact of arthritis on individuals, and thus, have validated the need for more work on this disease.
In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, especially my two-year old son. His innocent inquisitiveness reminds me to never stop asking questions. As a family, we like to travel and go camping.
Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez is currently at the University of Michigan School of Public Health