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Member News — Hackensack University Medical Center’s Dr. Yukiko Kimura Completes Enrollment for Largest Research Study on Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
September 19th, 2018

Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center is pleased to announce that Yukiko Kimura, M.D., chief of Pediatric Rheumatology at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital, and immediate past president of Childhood Arthritis & Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA), has completed enrollment for the groundbreaking Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) study to examine treatment strategies for juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).  Dr. Kimura is the lead investigator of the PCORI funded study which successfully enrolled 402 patients, the largest cohort of new-onset JIA patients that has ever been enrolled in a research study. Of the 57 sites participating across the U.S. and Canada, the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital enrolled the most patients for the study.

“Congratulations to Dr. Yukiko Kimura and her entire team on this tremendous accomplishment,” said Ihor Sawczuk, M.D., FACS, president of Hackensack University Medical Center and the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital. “This innovative research will transform treatment options and improve outcomes for children with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. Thanks to Dr. Kimura and her team, Hackensack University Medical Center continues to be on the forefront of pediatric rheumatology.”

JIA affects as many as 300,000 children in the U.S. and is a leading cause of acquired disability in childhood. It is a chronic disease that has no cure and can start at any age, even infancy. More than half of children with JIA have polyarticular JIA (poly JIA), a subset in which five or more joints are affected. Symptoms of JIA include, but are not limited to joint pain, swelling and stiffness.

“We are thrilled that our team, which includes all the CARRA investigative sites, was able to complete enrollment in this important study. This is the first large-scale CARRA-wide comparative effectiveness study of CARRA’s consensus treatment plans (CTPs). This research will help us design new and innovative treatment strategies to improve outcomes for children suffering from this debilitating disease,” said Dr. Kimura.

Dr. Kimura presented preliminary findings of the STOP-JIA study earlier this month at the 25th European Pediatric Rheumatology Congress (PReS 2018) in Lisbon, Portugal. The study compares three different treatment approaches started as first-line treatment for children with poly JIA (pJIA). STOP-JIA aims to answer a critical question facing patients and doctors: “When is the best time to start biologic medications in polyarticular JIA?”

This is the first time that doctors and researchers partnered with patients and their caregivers to conduct a JIA research study. As members of the study team, patients and caregivers helped formulate research questions and informed researchers on ways to make it easier for families to participate, as well as supported recruitment efforts.

Vincent Del Gaizo, a father of a patient with JIA, serves as a key member of the STOP-JIA study team. Del Gaizo is also the director of Strategic Partnerships and Patient Engagement for CARRA.  “What an exciting opportunity to be part of this groundbreaking study that embraced patient and family participation. As caregivers, we knew first-hand how to make the study more accessible to patients and caregivers, ensuring that families understood the study and why it is so important to them.”

Results from this research will be released in 2019, and will help doctors, patients, and families decide which treatment to try first to improve the lives of children with pJIA.

In 2015, PCORI awarded $2.8 million to Dr. Kimura and her Hackensack University Medical Center team to fund the STOP-JIA study. PCORI is an independent, non-profit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund comparative clinical effectiveness research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed health and health care decisions. PCORI is committed to seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work.

Hackensack University Medical Center is a leader in the field of pediatric rheumatology. Dr. Kimura and some of the medical center’s patients were presenters in the first-ever externally-led FDA JIA Patient-Focused Drug Development (PFDD) meeting in Washington, D.C. in August. Earlier this year, the medical center was selected to be one of only three pilot pediatric sites in the United States to participate in a groundbreaking rheumatology initiative led by The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and funded by the Arthritis Foundation. This project will create an innovative, new model to enable co-production of health care for children, teenagers and adults suffering from inflammatory arthritis.

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