Arthur Kavanaugh, MD: Rheumatology Winter Clinical Symposium

This week we sat down for an interview with Arthur Kavanaugh, MD, to discuss his presentations for the Rheumatology Winter Clinical Symposium. He is currently the chairman for the 2021 conference. Kavanaugh is Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for Innovative Therapy at UC San Diego. He will be presenting his findings on Rheumatology 2020: A Year in Review for rheumatoid arthritis, spondylarthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. We discuss what sets RWCS apart from other conferences and the exciting content that participants can expect.

Rheumatology Network: Hi, Dr. Kavanaugh, thank you for joining us.

Arthur Kavanaugh, MD: My pleasure.

RN: Could you start by telling us a little bit about the Rheumatology Winter Clinical Symposium?

AK: Absolutely. The Rheumatology Winter Clinical Symposium or RWCS has been going on now this will be our 14th year. And what we did to start it is to try to come up with a little bit of a different way of having a conference rather than just having a talking head speak for an hour on a topic and then go to an entirely different topic, we want it to be more engaging, and we wanted it to be more collegial, and have time for a lot of interaction. I always say at the meeting that all of us are smarter than any of us. And we all learn from listening to each other. So the program is set up to be as dynamic as can be [and] as varied as can be. We take lots of input from attendees that we get- lots of input every year from the attendees. And we really try to make it as enjoyable and collegial a learning experience as can possibly be.

RN: Which trends were covered during the conference that you were particularly excited to listen to? Are there any major highlights that stick out to you?

AK: Well, what we do, there's kind of some consistency, but also some change year to year. One of the things that we've gotten into is to kind of give the attendees an uptake. So we will have updates on new developments in rheumatoid arthritis, new developments in spondylarthritis, new developments in psoriatic arthritis, and then new developments in novel treatments across diseases because there's been so much, especially in lupus, but also in other diseases and kind of a peek into the future of what the therapies might be coming down the road. So I'll be covering some of that with my friend and colleague, Dr. Jack Cush. Also Dr. Eric Ruderman. And then for the newer molecules, Dr. Alvin Wells and Dr. Roy Fleischmann. But then we have topics that are very important this year. Checkpoint inhibitors: very important topic in rheumatology, Dr. Rubin is going to cover that. We're going to look at the diet, which is always a hot topic and Dr. Orrin Troum is going to do an evidence-based medicine review of what's going on there. We have several pediatric talks. We have Dr. Susan Shenoi is going to talk about novel concepts in pediatric rheumatology and there are a lot of things there. That's going to be very exciting. Dr Anne Stevens, who is our Kahuna. Every year, we recognize one faculty member for really a lifetime of providing outstanding education to the rheumatology community. And this year, that's going to be Dr. Anne Stevens. So she is going to give a talk looking, as we asked our Kahuna to do, on kind of the historical aspects, focusing on the important milestones in pediatric rheumatology. And then she and Dr. Shenoi are also going to talk about a very hot topic: macrophage activation syndrome, hLh, immunologic, and clinical characteristics, which of course, has been brought to the forefront by the COVID pandemic. We are going to cover COVID from an immune standpoint. Dr. George Martin is going to do that. We also have the areas that are very related to rheumatology, such as allergy. So Dr. Anna Postolova is going to review ibig medication that we use in rheumatology for various indications, and also going to talk about some updates in allergy. Biosimilar is always a hot topic and we are lucky to have Dr. Glenn Haugeberg, from Norway, where they have actual experience with biosimilar. So while we don't have as much here in the US, he's going to talk to us about that. And he's also going to talk to us about a topic that he has a lot of interest in and has for many years and that's osteoimmunology, the interplay between immune system abnormalities in autoimmune diseases and bone osteoporosis and bone health. Dr. Martin is going to talk to us about some key aspects in dermatology also, of course, important related field. And then we have Dr. Alexis Ogdie, who's going to talk to us about epidemiology. She's a world class epidemiologist, and it's so important for how we interpret all of our research studies. And I think a lot of us know a little bit, but we're going to have Alexis really teach us more about that. Really looking forward to that and that's going to be, I think, outstanding, and another area of interest of hers is comorbidities in the rheumatic diseases. So we have, I think, a great faculty, Dr. Uma Mahadevan is going to talk about the common issues that we have in rheumatology, compared those in gastroenterology. Dr. Marty Bergman is going to review vasculitis and an important topic about which there's a bunch of new information. So he kind of charged Marty with doing that. And then we have other panel discussions and cases and point/counterpoints about the future of rheumatology. So I think it's a it's a chock full agenda, and I think it's going to be a great learning experience.

RN: Absolutely. Would you be able to give us a little preview of your upcoming presentations for Rheumatology 2020: A Year in Review?

AK: Well, when Jack Cush and I do rheumatoid arthritis, we have kind of practiced this a couple of times now. And it's an incredible challenge to really cover some of the things that have happened this past year, even though we're not going to really talk much about new molecules, because that's being covered, even though we're not going to talk about biosimilars, because that's being covered. But there's been so much in rheumatoid arthritis. Maybe something has been very timely lately, are safety considerations, particularly around the jakinibs, which are getting a lot of use in rheumatology. And there have been some very recent data looking at that. And other safety issues such as malignancy, which is important for all of our therapies in rheumatology. So that's kind of a quick peek at what is going to be, I think, very nice discussion.

RN: Do you have any predictions for rheumatology moving forward into 2021?

AK: Well, I think one of the things that we're seeing with RWCS, of course. Last year was a actual meeting, we were actually all there together. This year is a hybrid. So there will be some people who are at the meeting, and then other people learning virtually. And as a very, very smart person. Steve [?], who runs our production, he said, "we've all had to learn about 10 years’ worth of virtual learning in a year in the past year." We're doing a Zoom right now. Who would have thought a year ago, if you said I'd be doing a Zoom, first of all, I would say, well, what is this Zoom? And why am I doing this Zoom? So I think one of the things we'll see for the meeting is what's the future of meetings? I think hybrid meetings, may be with us for a while. I think maybe in March or April of last year, we just got done with RWCS, I think we thought maybe this will blow away and we'll be back in this time, you know, in for the 14th. And here we are in February 21. But we're not. So, are we going to be back next year? Is there going to be some aspect of virtual education? I think it may. And I think this may be with us to stay, just like telemedicine has become an accepted part of the practice of medicine, certainly in Rheumatology.

RN: Is there anything else that you would like to add before we wrap up?

AK: Well, I would certainly encourage people to attend the meeting. There's still time to get there live, although you have to obey the restrictions to get there. But if not, then virtually. And if you do attend absolutely, positively, please let me know your thoughts. What you liked, what you didn't like, things that could be done better, the format, the speakers, anything. Because we try super hard and education is important to all of us. But we're all so tired, especially of sitting on Zooms for hour after hour. So we need to do it in a way that we can still learn, which is crucial to really improve the outcome of all of our patients in rheumatology.

RN: Well, Dr. Kavanaugh, thank you for speaking with me today. I really appreciate it.

AK: Thank you for having me.