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Basic and Clinical Research Conference Days combine under COVID-19 theme


4 minutes

Kristine Kuhn, MD, PhD

Several overlapping themes have emerged in basic and clinical research surrounding COVID-19, prompting ACR Convergence 2021 to combine two special sessions into a two-day event under this theme.

Basic and Clinical Research Conference Days: Rheumatology Complications of Emerging Viral Infections / SARS-CoV-2 will take place Thursday, Nov. 4, and Friday, Nov. 5.

“We felt that participants would be very interested in being able to see things that were happening in the laboratory to really understand the disease from a molecular and pathophysiologic standpoint, as well as the clinical implications of the disease,” said Kristine Kuhn, MD, PhD, Chair of the ACR Committee on Research.

Conference Co-chairs Randy Cron, MD, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics & Medicine and Director of the Division of Pediatric Rheumatology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Mariana Kaplan, MD, Senior Investigator, Chief of the Systemic Autoimmunity Branch and Deputy Scientific Director at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, have selected a lineup of international experts for the six sessions of the conference that reflects the diversity of research within the field of COVID-19 and rheumatology, Dr. Kuhn noted.

“The conference is intended for a broad range of researchers—individuals who are really interested in how viruses and infectious diseases can trigger autoimmunity, individuals who are trying to understand that complex interrelationship between immune responses to foreign antigen versus self, as well as those individuals who are epidemiologists and outcomes researchers trying to understand how infectious diseases and other environmental triggers may impact the development of rheumatology or affect the outcomes of our rheumatology patients,” she said.

Phillip R. Krause, MD, Deputy Director of Vaccines Research and Review in the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will provide opening remarks on the status of COVID-19 and vaccination. The first session also will address evaluating COVID-19 vaccines for immunocompromised individuals and the impact of COVID-19 on patients with rheumatologic conditions.

“From a general perspective, that first session should be of high yield to attendees of ACR Convergence,” Dr. Kuhn said. “I think for the basic researchers, the presentations in session 4 looking at immune profiling and genetic risk factors would be of great interest.”

Another session will include a discussion on the utilization of rheumatologic drugs in the treatment of COVID-19.

“We’re learning that a lot of our biologic therapies might be impactful to COVID-19 outcomes,” Dr. Kuhn said.

Attendees will have an opportunity to pose questions to conference speakers at the end of each presentation through the virtual meeting platform.

“These Q&A periods allow us to engage in dialogue and think about how the presentation topic affects our field and our patients,” Dr. Kuhn said. “It allows us to deep dive into ways we can generate new hypotheses, new experimental approaches, and address the knowledge gaps that remain in the field.”

The conference will conclude with late-breaking abstracts.

“We recognize that the landscape of COVID-19 research is quickly changing as we put together this program, so Drs. Kaplan and Cron have allocated time to see what kinds of late-breaking topics would be emerging that should be presented. We’ll be finalizing that information in the next month,” Dr. Kuhn said.

The Basic and Clinical Research Conference schedule is:

Session 1: Overview

Thursday, Nov. 4 | 9 – 10:40 a.m. ET

  • Opening Remarks
  • COVID-19 Vaccines: Science vs. Antiscience
  • Impact of COVID-19 in Patients with Rheumatologic Conditions

Session 2: COVID-19 Induced Autoimmunity

Thursday, Nov. 4 | 10:50 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. ET 

  • Autoantibodies to Type I Interferon & Other Cytokines
  • Auto-Immunity Responses

Session 3: COVID-19 Hyper-inflammation

Thursday, Nov. 4 | 1 – 3 p.m. ET

  • MIS-C & Other Pediatric Complications
  • Cytokine Storm Syndrome
  • Rheumatologic DMARD/Biologic Use

Session 4: The Immunology of COVID-19

Thursday, Nov. 4 | 3:10 – 5:50 p.m. ET

  • Neutrophil Dysregulation & NETs
  • Kallikrein-Kinin Blockade
  • Immune Profiling in COVID-19
  • Genetic Risk Factors

Session 5: COVID-19 Oddities

Friday, Nov. 5 | 9 – 10:30 a.m. ET

  • Welcome Remarks
  • Implications of Distinctive Pulmonary Immunovascular Thrombosis in COVID-19 Pneumonia
  • Long Haulers

Session 6: COVID-19 Late Breaking Abstracts

Friday, Nov. 5 | 10:40 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET

  • Late Breaking Session
  • Late Breaking Session
  • Closing Remarks


If you haven’t registered for ACR Convergence 2021, register today to access all of the valuable content during the meeting, November 3–10. Registration also includes on-demand access to the virtual platform (session recordings, Poster Hall, Community Hubs, and ShowRheum) until March 11, 2022.