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About Sickkids
About SickKids

June 18, 2010

Rheumatology celebrates 25 years of excellence

Since its inception, The Hospital for Sick Children’s (SickKids) Rheumatology Division has had a lot to celebrate.

SickKids is home to one of the largest paediatric rheumatic disease units and fellowship training programs in North America, as well as one of the world’s leading centres for paediatric rheumatic disease research and patient care. To commemorate 25 years of excellence, the division hosted many of its former trainees for a scientific symposium from June 12 to 14.

“We really wanted to hold this event to show how proud we are of the graduates and the international success of the Rheumatology Program,” says Dr. Ronald Laxer, Staff Rheumatologist.

SickKids welcomed back former fellows who spoke about the work they completed while at SickKids and what they have accomplished since.

The past 25 years have brought about many changes to the division. The program was originally part of the Division of Immunology and Rheumatology and included two rheumatologists who are still part of the division today -- Laxer and Dr. Earl Silverman.

Rheumatology progressed into a stand-alone division in 1990 and has since expanded to include 10 staff members, eight of whom trained at SickKids.

As a leading fellowship training program, SickKids has trained over 60 fellows from Canada and around the world.

“The international program has allowed for fellows to bring the knowledge, skills and training they acquired here at SickKids back to their own countries,” says Laxer. In the past academic year alone SickKids hosted international fellows from Netherlands, Thailand, Germany and Singapore. Paediatric Rheumatology graduates have been successful in obtaining academic placements around the world and trainees have been productive in the research arena.

The very first fellow, Dr. Bonnie Cameron, began her training in 1984 during the program’s first year. “SickKids should be rightly proud of the number of our graduates now actively engaged in paediatric rheumatology across Canada and around the globe,” says Cameron, who is now an Assistant Professor, Department of Paediatrics, University of Toronto, and a part-time staff member in the Division of Rheumatology. “As the chronic conditions we care for often go unrecognized, I am certain that an endless number of children are now getting the care and treatment they deserve as a result of our training program.”

The Rheumatology Program offers a comprehensive range of services for the evaluation and treatment of children with the vast range of paediatric rheumatic and inflammatory diseases. Rheumatology provides clinical care and undertakes research studies in systemic inflammatory disorders and inflammatory diseases of the bones and joints.

SickKids provides a number of multidisciplinary subspecialty rheumatology clinics for children suffering from dermatomyositis, morphea, systemic JIA, systematic and neonatal lupus erythematosus, spondylitis and inflammatory brain disease. A new clinic has been started for children with fever syndromes. Many children have benefited from treatments in the medical day care unit, where children receive joint injections, therapeutic infusions or undergo investigations that would normally require in-patient admission.

As a leader in research, the Division of Rheumatology has become a lead centre for a number of international treatment trials. Research focuses on the development of trial design for the study of rare diseases and outcome, prognosis and treatment studies in juvenile idiopathic arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, neonatal lupus, scleroderma, dermatomyositis and vasculitis. Other research focuses on the immunopathogenesis of Kawasaki disease using an animal model.

Learn more about SickKids’ Division of Rheumatology.