Boston Musculoskeletal Clinical Research Collaboratory

The Boston MCRC serves as a central resource for clinical research focused on the most common musculoskeletal disorders, osteoarthritis and gout, and provides research resources for investigator-based research in scleroderma, spondyloarthritis, musculoskeletal pain and osteoporosis, among others. Center grant funding produces 30-35 papers annually in leading peer-reviewed arthritis journals and general medical journals. This center has trained many of the leading clinical researchers in rheumatology throughout the US and internationally; many of these former trainees have active collaborations with the center.

We are a broad research community with a core group of faculty. The research community’s ready access to core faculty and to the sophisticated research methods and assistance they provide enhances the clinical and translational research of the community and increases collaborative opportunities. The MCRC updates BU’s historical focus on epidemiologic methods to include new approaches to causal inference and adds new methods in machine learning and mobile health.

The Accelerator Core Unit is the focal point of this MCRC. A key feature is the weekly Research Accelerator meeting in which ongoing and proposed research projects are evaluated critically. This feature ensures frequent interactions between clinician researchers, epidemiologists and biostatisticians who are the core members of the MCRC. The Research Accelerator provides critical support for other federal and foundation grants related to rheumatic and arthritic disorders at Boston University.

The overall goal of this center is to carry out and disseminate high-level clinical research informed both by state of the art clinical research methods and by clinical and biological scientific discoveries. Ultimately, we aim either to prevent or find better treatment strategies for common musculoskeletal diseases to improve the lives of those living with the diseases.


Executive Committee

The Executive Committee is composed of Drs. Felson, Neogi, LaValley, Greece and Kiel. These are the Director, Associate Director, Methodology Core Director and Director of Evaluation, Director of Marcus Institute for Aging Research (Harvard) respectively as well as Sharon Tomlinson, Senior Programs Manager. The Executive Committee meets quarterly.

External Advisory Committee

The External Advisory Committee is responsible for advising the Executive Committee on the overall direction of the center and for integrating its activities into a cohesive program consistent with center goals. It also examines reviews of P+F grant submissions and decides on which are to be funded and serves as a backup resource to resolve Center conflicts.

Members of the External Advisory Committee are as follows:

  • Chair: Dr. Sandro Galea, Dean, BU School of Public Health
  • David Salant, Professor of Medicine, Vice Chair of Medicine for Research
  • Belinda Borrelli, Professor of Health Services, Psychologist focusing on adherence interventions; Director of BU Affinity Research Collaboration on mobile health (“mHealth”)
  • Katherine Liao, Associate Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology and Bioinformatics), Harvard Medical School

Core Faculty

Maureen Dubreuil, MD, MSc
David Felson, MD, MPH
Reza Jafarzadeh, DVM, MPVM, PhD
Vijaya Kolachalama, PhD, FAHA
Deepak Kumar, PT, PhD
Michael LaValley, PhD
Cara Lewis, PhD
Tuhina Neogi, MD, PhD
Michelle Yau, MD

Patient Advisory Group

The Boston MCRC Patient Advisory Group, comprised of selected patients from Boston Medical Center with targeted diseases, assembles annually to provide feedback on planned projects. We solicit their input on priorities for research, and on study design, outcomes, and recruitment strategies as well as advice regarding respectful and meaningful ways of engaging and partnering with patients and communities, and optimal means of communicating study results to non-medical audiences. Select MCRC members present study highlights to the Patient Advisory Group for specific feedback. Since annual meetings are not sufficient for the extent of feedback desired, selected patients from this group are asked to provide more frequent individual feedback on studies.

Through our ongoing collaborations with the Boston University Clinical Translational Science Institute, the Boston University School of Public Health and the BU Medical Campus Community Engagement Program we will continue to identify research advocates who have been trained in the principles of clinical research and preferentially recruit these persons to our Patient Advisory Group.

Representative of the MCRC Research Community

Given the importance of the MCRC’s service to the research community, we have appointed Dr. Douglas Kiel to aid in addressing their needs. Dr. Kiel is Director of the Framingham Osteoporosis Study, Professor of Medicine at Harvard and recent President of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. Each year the research community will be surveyed to determine whether they have experienced benefit from the MCRC, what strengths they see from their liaison and what needs they have that might be addressed by the Center. This survey will be designed by Dr. Fournier, Assistant Provost for Evaluation and member of the Executive Committee, Dr. Felson, and Dr. Kiel.