Dr. Robert Colbert is a board-certified pediatric rheumatologist with a long-standing interest in understanding the pathogenesis of spondyloarthritis. After completing clinical training in pediatrics and rheumatology, he did postdoctoral research in molecular immunology at the University of North Carolina. From there he joined the faculty at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati, where he became Professor of Pediatrics and chief of the Division of Rheumatology. He joined the NIAMS Intramural Research Program in 2008 as Chief of the Pediatric Translational Research Branch.
The Pediatric Translational Research Branch is focused on understanding the etiology and pathogenesis of early onset arthritis, including axial disease in juvenile spondyloarthritis. Patients are studied under a natural history protocol (#11-AR-0223; Studies on the Natural History and Pathogenesis of Spondyloarthritis) to find better clinical, laboratory, and imaging modalities to define axial involvement and disease outcome. We are particularly interested in genetic contributions to early onset axial disease. The laboratory also utilizes animal models to understand the role of risk genes and how they interact, and dissect molecular mechanisms that drive arthritis and spondyloarthritis pathogenesis. Current studies are focused on defining novel effects of ERAP1 on HLA-B27, the role of endoplasmic reticulum quality control pathways in HLA-B27 misfolding, and how misfolding impacts immune function. We also have studies addressing the role of gut microbiota in experimental spondyloarthritis.