Arthritis Foundation Invests $1.1 Million in Refractory Rheumatoid Arthritis Research 

Research funding to support the Foundation's robust strategy to grow its RA Science portfolio in areas of unmet medical need 

ATLANTA (November 10, 2022) – The Arthritis Foundation has announced its investment to fuel the study of refractory rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and, ultimately, improve the quality of life for patients who are not responsive to current therapies. The Foundation has awarded a total of $1.1 million to four researchers selected after a rigorous peer review.  

The Foundation’s focus on refractory RA, or “difficult to treat” RA, came from a recommendation from a working group composed of academic and government RA experts, and it was prioritized due to the unmet need of this patient population. The Arthritis Foundation estimates 1.3 million people live with rheumatoid arthritis – and while effective treatments exist, about 40% of patients achieve remission and over 10% are not responsive to any available medications. 

“For patients who do not respond to current therapies, the reasons they are given are often unclear – often resulting in a sense of hopelessness and failure,” said Kristen Mueller, vice president of autoimmune arthritis research at the Arthritis Foundation. “In funding this translational and early-stage clinical research, we like to think of our funds as ‘seed money’ – that can help jumpstart life-changing research aimed to reveal the underlying causes of therapeutic response and non-response in RA. It is our ultimate goal to improve the lives of all patients by giving them effective therapy options.” 

The Foundation’s 2022 Refractory RA RFP awardees demonstrated applications for characterization of the distinct mechanisms, biomarkers and therapeutic targets that distinguish RA responders and non-responders to therapy. The winners were given an overall impact score based on criteria in areas such as: project significance; originality; approach; and inclusion of women, minorities and individuals across the lifespan.  

The awardees for “Characterizing Determinants of Response and Non-response to Current Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Therapeutic Agents” are: 


Susan Goodman, MD 

Hospital for Special Surgery 

“Characterizing Targets in Refractory RA.” 

Amount awarded: $450,000 


Award duration: 3 years 

Daniel Solomon, MD, MPH 

Brigham and Women’s Hospital 

“Defining immune cell phenotypes and cell functions that distinguish treatment responders and non-responders in RA: towards development of a liquid biopsy to personalize treatment.” 


Amount awarded: $450,000 


Award duration: 3 years 

Rebecca Blank, MD, PhD 

New York University Grossman School of Medicine 

“Modifying the gut microbiome and systemic immune response to enhance methotrexate efficacy in rheumatoid arthritis patients with inadequate response.” 


Amount awarded: $74,995 


Award duration: 1 year 

Elaine Husni, MD, MPH 

Cleveland Clinic 

“Defining a Personalized Treatment Approach to Rheumatoid Arthritis: Using Genetic Markers of TNFi Response.” 

Amount awarded: $75,000 


Award duration: 1 year 


The Foundation will be accepting submissions for its 2023 RA Request for Proposals in early March. Projects will align with the Foundation’s long-term goal of identifying key underlying mechanisms of disease and therapeutic targets. For current and future funding opportunities, visit the Science RFPs and Events page at


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