Engalitcheff Arthritis Outcomes Initiative Grant
Duke University

Researcher Esi Morgan DeWittHow do you think your research will impact your local community?
I am studying the cost-effectiveness of biologic drugs, specifically TNF-alpha inhibitors, in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.  Biologic drugs will be increasingly used for treatment of inflammatory arthritis.  However, because these drugs are very expensive it is particularly important to develop methodology to determine their impact on averting disability in typical clinical use. 

How would you ultimately like to see your research applied?
To improve access to effective medications for those in need and decrease disability.

What are your impressions of the Arthritis Foundation?
The Arthritis Foundation is an invaluable resource for patients and their families. The web site is a reliable source of information to which I routinely refer my patients.  The Arthritis Foundation is a tremendous advocate on behalf of people with arthritis.

What role do you feel the Arthritis Foundation plays in the progress of arthritis research?
The Arthritis Foundation has played an important role in helping to launch the research careers of young investigators.

Given the prevalence of arthritis – one in three Americans with the disease – do you have a personal connection that makes the disease more than a statistic to you?
I was a runner and also enjoyed team sports immensely until I sustained a hip injury in high school that ended my ability to run.  This was quite a loss since running was such a big part of my life.  I now take care of children with arthritis, and focus on protecting their bones and joints to allow lifelong enjoyment of physical activity.  

Considering all the medical conditions in need of your field of research, what are the mysteries surrounding arthritis that interest you most?
I work in pediatric rheumatology in which there are many unknowns.  For example, in patients who achieve remission, it is not known what causes the disease to flare again, and the best means of sustaining remission.

When you’re not in the lab, where can you most often be found?
I work in clinical research, which involves interdisciplinary meetings with other investigators and a lot of time doing statistical analyses and research on the computer.  When not doing research I am taking care of pediatric rheumatology patients.  Time outside of work is spent with my husband and two young children.

Favorite non-medical book you read last?
Billy Collins, The Trouble with Poetry.

Favorite music and artist?
I have eclectic musical taste – enduring favorites include Seal, Santana, Sade, Jesse Cook.

If you weren’t a medical researcher, what would you be doing now?
I would probably teach high school math or Spanish and travel during the summers.

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