Welcome to the Rheumatology Fellowship Training Program at the National Institutes of Health.

Here, you will find information about our ACGME-accredited fellowship program in rheumatology and details of the advanced training in our Scholars in Translational Research program. Read profiles of our internationally renowned faculty in rheumatology, immunology, and musculoskeletal research, and discover cutting-edge clinical studies at the NIH.

Our training programs are fully funded by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH.

Accredited thru the NIH Clinical Center / Children's National Medical Center
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ACGME Logo

Overview

For more than 50 years, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Intramural Research Program (IRP) and Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, together have been a leading force in rheumatology training and research. NIH laboratories and clinical investigators have made pioneering discoveries about the genetic causes and pathogenesis of rheumatic diseases, laying the foundation for new therapies. 

Several generations of fellows have completed the NIH Fellowship Training Program in Rheumatology. Many of our alums are now internationally recognized basic or translational research rheumatologists. 

Hosted in the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) since the Institute's founding in 1986, rheumatology training and research have grown to encompass laboratories and clinical programs in other institutes as well.

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Broad Goals of the Program

  • Diagnose/manage rheumatologic diseases.
  • Develop expertise in normal vs. abnormal immune function.
  • Understand and gain comfort with glucocorticoids and steroid sparing treatments.
  • Hone critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills.
  • Take great care of patients.
  • Grow your leadership skills, work well in teams, prep for your career journey.
  • Develop next generation of leaders in research.

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Headshots of four program alumni.

Meet Previous Program Fellows

Why Choose NIH?

Fellows typically train at the NIH to become excellent clinical rheumatologists experienced in managing both common and complex rheumatologic diseases, including rare and orphan diseases. Fellows also choose our program to develop the research skills necessary to become independent investigators or academic rheumatologists. 

We also offer opportunities for training in pediatric rheumatology through our collaboration with Children's National Hospital.

Throughout the training, fellows experience cutting-edge science, disease discovery, and immunologic advancements with opportunities to learn from world renowned experts in immunology and clinical rheumatology.

In addition, there are opportunities to supplement training at other rheumatology programs within the DC/Metro area to gain experience with a broad spectrum of diseases in different clinical environments.

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Opportunities for Advancement

Scholars in Translational Research Program
Fellows graduating from rheumatology programs have opportunities for additional training within the NIAMS Scholars in Translational Research Program. This program gives outstanding candidates advanced training in rheumatology, dermatology, and related fields in genetics, immunology, and inflammation biology upon completing adult or pediatric fellowships in rheumatology or dermatology. The purpose of this program is to serve as a bridge to progress toward independently funded positions.
 
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A History of Discovery at NIAMS

  • First use of methotrexate for arthritis
  • First use of cyclophosphamide for lupus
  • Cloning of Fc receptor and dissection of signal
  • Deciphering structure of the herpes virus
  • Discovery of nucleic acid sensing and Toll receptors
  • Defining the term autoinflammatory diseases
  • Elucidating components of the JAK-STAT pathway and development of JAKinibs
  • Regulation of Immunoglobulin Class switching
  • Unraveling the role of HLA-B27 and mechanisms of spondyloarthritis
  • Defining neutrophil dysregulation in lupus
  • Discovery of statin myopathy
  • Discovery of VEXAS syndrome

Course Structure

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Credit NIAMS

Clinical Care at the Cutting Edge

Translational groups working at the NIAMS use cutting-edge clinical and research tools to advance the clinical understanding of complex diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus and various forms of vasculitis. For example, advanced molecular imaging techniques visualize inflammation for research purposes, and clinical fellows participate in the work necessary to translate these discoveries into clinical application.

Away Rotations

In the first two years of the fellowship, our fellows participate in one-month away electives at local hospitals. They learn inpatient rheumatology in academic settings outside of the NIH and gain exposure to a broader group of colleagues and educators.

  • Georgetown University Hospital: one month inpatient elective in Year 1
  • Johns Hopkins University Hospital: one-month inpatient elective in Year 2
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Educational Activities

Fellows participate in a structured educational curriculum that includes a series of different educational activities, including hands-on training in physical examination, arthrocentesis, ultrasonography, and weekly case-based learning sessions. Fellows also participate in Institute-Wide educational activities, including the weekly Grand Rounds and Translational Journal Club and the annual NIAMS Scientific Retreat.

First Year

  • DC-wide emergency lecture series
  • Weekly didactics (faculty led), case conference, grand rounds, journal club, lectures and visiting speakers
  • In-patient consult (approximately 4 months)
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Community health clinic
  • Specialty clinics (Sjögrens, periodic fever, autoinflammatory disease, vasculitis, lupus, myositis)
  • Away rotation (Georgetown University x 1 month)
  • Exploration of research opportunities, including research retreat
  • Attend one scientific conference in the 1st year

Second Year

  • Research - protocol development and implementation, initiation of bench projects, formal training
  • Continuity clinic
  • Specialty clinics
  • Away elective (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Inpatient consult (approximately 1-2 months)

Third Year

  • Research
  • Continuity clinic
  • Inpatient consult (1-2 weeks)

Friday Education Day

Every Friday fellows participate in structured learning sessions.

  • Case-Based learning
  • NIAMS Rheumatology Grand Rounds
  • Translational Journal Club

Research and Mentorship

A faculty-led research committee works with each fellow from the onset of fellowship to identify an appropriate research mentor and provide advice to develop a research project during fellowship. In addition, all fellows participate in our annual Scientific Retreat.

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Annual NIAMS Retreat

  • Two-day annual research retreat
  • Invited gurus
  • Opportunities to interact and present work
  • Abstract and poster presentations with faculty and senior fellows

 


Program Administration

At the NIAMS we have an active culture and extensive resources that encourage career development. Our mission is to provide you, the trainee, with access to educational resources and career development services that enhance and complement your biomedical research training.

 

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Peter Grayson
Acting Director

With a wealth of knowledge and experience, Dr. Grayson provides trainees with access to resources and services to enhance and complement their biomedical research training.

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Ronnie Gladney
Program Coordinator

Ronnie serves as a liaison and administrator for our trainees and actively manages numerous student activities.

Last Updated: August 2022