Jake Anderson: Pediatric Rheumatologist in the Making 

Anderson has set his sights on improving treatment options for children with arthritis. 

By Beth Axtell 

A nutritional science major and water polo athlete at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, Jake Anderson is using his experience with juvenile arthritis to direct his future. Anderson, now 23, was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) at the age of five when his parents noticed him limping when he ran. Their doctor initially thought it was a sprained ankle, but after six weeks in a cast, the condition only kept getting worse. He was then diagnosed with JIA by a pediatric rheumatologist at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. 

Despite the aches and pains of arthritis, Anderson never let his diagnosis slow him down and swam competitively throughout school. At 18, after not having symptoms for a year, Anderson figured he’d outgrown his arthritis and decided on his own to stop taking medication. But just a few years later, at 21, his arthritis came back in full force. Anderson recounts the episode, “I had to find an adult rheumatologist and get back into it. It was a unique experience – I thought I was done with it, and for it to then come back like that. It felt like the first time I was diagnosed.” 

Having that flare during such a pivotal time in his life – his freshman year of college – greatly influenced Anderson’s goals and aspirations. 

“I was in anatomy class at university and I was talking to a girl sitting near me. It came out that we both have arthritis.”  And that’s how Anderson’s involvement in the Arthritis Foundation began. The young lady was involved with their local Jingle Bell Run and she encouraged him to volunteer at the event. “The next summer [Utah welcomed] our first JA camp, camp KODA, and I was asked to be a camp counselor for that. I’ve been helping out with events ever since.” 

At the beginning of 2017, Anderson and the Arthritis Foundation office in Utah created a young adult committee for the local volunteer board. Its purpose is to act as a liaison for young adults with arthritis in the area. Anderson says their main focus right now is to start a group for teens that will include monthly activities. He wants to get them involved with each other and encourages them to give back to the community. 

“We’re just getting started,” Anderson explains. “I’m hoping we can start a long-term program where we young adults act as peer mentors for teens transitioning to young adulthood.” Transitioning from a pediatric to an adult rheumatologist, learning to manage your own healthcare, and becoming independent can be big issues for a lot of people, he says. “We want to facilitate a better transition.” 

Anderson began college as a pre-med major, and started working in a lab after his first semester. That’s when he discovered his love for research.  “I found that my ideal career path would be medical research,” he says. “ I’d love to get into pediatric rheumatology. Do both research and clinical work.” 

To help solidify that decision, Anderson shadowed both his former pediatric rheumatologist, John Bohnsack, MD, and his current rheumatologist, Dorota J. Lebiedz-Odrobina, MD. He followed each of them for a couple of days as they did their hospital rounds and saw patients in clinic. He got to ask a lot of questions and really get a feel for what being a rheumatologist is all about. 

Anderson is almost done with his junior year at Brigham Young and will be applying for medical schools this summer. He says he’s excited about pursuing a fulfilling career caring for and improving treatments for kids with arthritis. 


I Want to Contribute
I Need Help
  • Donate


    Every gift to the Arthritis Foundation will help people with arthritis across the U.S. live their best life.

  • Volunteer


    Join us and become a Champion of Yes. There are many volunteer opportunities available.

  • Live Yes! INSIGHTS

    Live Yes! INSIGHTS

    Take part to be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis.

  • Partner


    Proud Partners of the Arthritis Foundation make an annual commitment to directly support the Foundation’s mission.


Ways to Give

Every gift to the Arthritis Foundation will help people with arthritis across the U.S. live their best life. Whether it is supporting cutting-edge research, 24/7 access to one-on-one support, resources and tools for daily living, and more, your gift will be life-changing.

Make a Donation

Help millions of people live with less pain and fund groundbreaking research to discover a cure for this devastating disease. Please, make your urgently-needed donation to the Arthritis Foundation now!

Become a Member

Become an Arthritis Foundation member today for just $20 and you'll receive access to helpful tools..... and more. 

Make a Honor or Memorial Gift

Honor a loved one with a meaningful donation to the Arthritis Foundation. We'll send a handwritten card to the honoree or their family notifying them of your thoughtful gift.

Gift Planning

I want information on ways to remember the AF in my will, trust or other financial planning vehicles.


Volunteer Opportunities

The Arthritis Foundation is focused on finding a cure and championing the fight against arthritis with life-changing information, advocacy, science and community. We can only achieve these goals with your help. Strong, outspoken and engaged volunteers will help us conquer arthritis. By getting involved, you become a leader in our organization and help make a difference in the lives of millions. Join us and become a Champion of Yes.

Become a Volunteer

More About Volunteering


Give Just 10 Minutes.

Tell us what matters most to you. Change the future of arthritis.

By taking part in the Live Yes! INSIGHTS assessment, you’ll be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis, for yourself and for 54 million others. And all it takes is just 10 minutes.

Your shared experiences will help:

- Lead to more effective treatments and outcomes
- Develop programs to meet the needs of you and your community
- Shape a powerful agenda that fights for you

Now is the time to make your voice count, for yourself and the entire arthritis community. 

Currently this program is for the adult arthritis community.  Since the needs of the juvenile arthritis (JA) community are unique, we are currently working with experts to develop a customized experience for JA families. 

How are you changing the future?

By sharing your experience, you’re showing decision-makers the realities of living with arthritis, paving the way for change. You’re helping break down barriers to care, inform research and create resources that make a difference in people’s lives, including your own.

Get Started


Meet Our Partners

As a partner, you will help the Arthritis Foundation provide life-changing resources, science, advocacy and community connections for people with arthritis, the nations leading cause of disability. Join us today and help lead the way as a Champion of Yes.


Our Trailblazers are committed partners ready to lead the way, take action and fight for everyday victories. They contribute $2,000,000 to $2,749,000


Our Visionary partners help us plan for a future that includes a cure for arthritis. These inspired and inventive champions have contributed $1,500,00 to $1,999,999.


Our Pioneers are always ready to explore and find new weapons in the fight against arthritis. They contribute $1,000,000 to $1,499,999.


Our Pacesetters ensure that we can chart the course for a cure for those who live with arthritis. They contribute $500,000 to $999,000.


Our Signature partners make their mark by helping us identify new and meaningful resources for people with arthritis. They contribute $250,000 to $499,999.


Our Supporting partners are active champions who provide encouragement and assistance to the arthritis community. They contribute $100,000 to $249,999.