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The Canadian Arthritis Research Conference:

Taking Collaborative Action

photo to supplement event

February 25, 2020


Fairmont Empress & Victoria Conference Centre
721 Government St
Victoria, BC
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Canadian Arthritis Research Conference

Tuesday, February 25th  & Wednesday, February 26th 2020 
Start time: 3:00 PM (Tuesday) End time: 3:00 PM (Wednesday)

The Arthritis Society is pleased to announce the upcoming national Canadian Arthritis Research Conference, presented in partnership with the Canadian Rheumatology Association (CRA) and CIHR-IMHA. The conference will take place ahead of the 2020 CRA & AHPA Annual Scientific Meeting in Victoria B.C.  

The Canadian Arthritis Research Conference will bring together allies in the arthritis ecosystem - trainees, people living with arthritis, national and international scientists and clinicians, and others - to explore perspectives, advance knowledge and enhance Canadian leadership in the world of arthritis and rheumatic diseases.  

National and international speakers will present on the following themes:  

  1. Living Well: Easing Pain through Research
    • Presenters include: Dr. Yves De Koninck, Dr. Yvonne Lee, Dr. Cairistin McDougall, Dr. Emerson Krock and Maria Hudspith and Linda Wilhelm, members of the Canadian Pain Task Force  
  2. New Approaches to Inflammation and Tissue Repair
    • Presenters include: Jack Hornecker, Dr. Cosimo de Bari, Dr. Ali Akram, Dr. Matthew Grol and Dr. Rae Yeung 
  3. Getting Hooked on Big Data Science
    • Presenters include: Cheryl Koehn, Dr. Linda Li, Dr. Mathew Veras, Dr. Nevena Rebic and Dr. Igor Jurisica 

Through collaborative presentations and group conversations, the programs will collectively highlight current research and approaches to pain, inflammation and tissue repair, and the integration of open source data in clinical applications. 

Full conference program [561kB]

Programs & Presenters

Living well: Easing pain through research

February 25, 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Twenty percent of the Canadian population suffers from some form of chronic pain. Yet despite this huge burden, existing treatment approaches remain inadequate for a substantial proportion of these patients. Although Canadian pain researchers are world leaders in understanding the fundamental biology and mechanisms of pain, translation of basic discoveries into new treatments has been slow with many impediments in the bench to bedside continuum. This session aims to provide a state-of-the-art summary of current pain research, a glimpse into patients’ experience living with chronic pain, and explore the challenges and impediments to developing better approaches to pain treatment.

  • Linda Wilhelm

    Thirty Five Years Living with Pain

    Photography of Linda WilhelmLinda Wilhelm is the President of The Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance, a national, volunteer, patient-driven organization that has worked to improve the lives of people living with arthritis since 2002. She is co-chair of the Steering Committee for the Chronic Pain Strategy for Patient Oriented Research (SPOR) Network, as well as a member of the network’s patient advisory committee. She is also a member of The Evidence Alliance (SPOR) Network. Linda has participated in past Health Canada expert advisory panels and numerous conferences concerning treatment access and drug safety issues. She is a former member of both the Expert Advisory Committee for Vigilance of Health Products and the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network's steering committee and a current member of The National Pain Taskforce.

    Ms. Wilhelm has been an active advocate for treatment access and quality of care for all patients both regionally and nationally for over twenty years and is a past board chair for the New Brunswick Division of the Arthritis Society. Ms. Wilhelm has been living with rheumatoid arthritis for over thirty five years, many of those years unresponsive to the medications used to treat the disease, which resulted in significant and irreversible damage to most of the joints in her body leaving her to manage chronic pain on a daily basis and throughout her recovery from fourteen major joint reconstructive surgeries.

    Ms. Wilhelm is a recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Golden and Diamond Medals of honour and the 2015 Arthritis Alliance of Canada Qualman/Davies Patient and Consumer Leadership Award.

  • Dr. Yvonne Lee

    Beyond the VAS: Advances in Clinical Research on Pain in Individuals with Arthritis

    Photography of Dr. Yvonne LeeYvonne Lee is an Associate Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology) and Preventive Medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She received her medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School and a masters in medical science from Harvard Medical School. Her research focuses on the inflammatory and neural mechanisms of pain in rheumatic diseases. She was trained in quantitative sensory testing (QST) methods by Dr. Daniel Clauw at the University of Michigan Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center. 

    As the Director of Pain Research in the Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital from 2012-2017, she developed the clinical research program on pain in rheumatic diseases. Her studies have utilized multiple methods of pain assessment, including patient self-report measures, QST, and neuroimaging to assess pain among rheumatoid arthritis patients. She was the PI of an R01 grant, entitled “Central Pain Mechanisms, Pain Intensity, and Drug Response in Rheumatoid Arthritis (CPIRA)”. Through CPIRA, she recruited 296 RA patients from 5 sites around the U.S. and conducted QST before and 12-weeks after starting a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug. She is also at the forefront of research examining the role of mobile technology for the assessment of pain and other patient reported outcomes in RA. Her research group developed a smartphone app to track RA disease activity and identify RA flares. This app was well-received by patients, with an overall compliance rate exceeding 75%. In addition to her research activities, Dr. Lee also enjoys mentoring trainees, both one-on-one, as well as through Clinical and Translational Science Award-based training programs.

  • Dr. Cairistin McDougall

    Quantitative Sensory Testing Demonstrates Similar Patterns of Pain Sensitization between Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients and Their Unaffected First-Degree Relatives

    Photography of Dr. Cairistin McDougallDr. Cairistin McDougall attended medical school in her home province at the University of Saskatchewan and graduated in 2014. She went on to complete her Internal Medicine training at the University of Calgary followed by Rheumatology training at the University of Manitoba. During her residency, she began research with Dr. Hani El-Gabalawy on pain and QST after completing QST training with Dr. Yvonne Lee in Boston, MA. She completed her Rheumatology training in 2019 and has started practice back home in Regina, SK.

  • Dr. Yves De Koninck

    Basis/Translational Research Directions in Pain

    Photography of Dr. Yves De KoninckYves de Koninck studies the physiological, pharmacological and anatomical bases of the transmission of signals between neurons. He is interested in chemical mechanisms associated with the integration of sensory signals in the spinal cord, specifically those related to the transmission of pain influx.

    Dr. De Koninck has expertise in synaptic physiology, biophysics, in vivo and patch clamp electrophysiology, cellular imaging in brain slices, confocal and non-linear microscopy, optical super-resolution, fiberoptics-based applications, optogenetics, noise analysis and computational approaches.

    His group currently focuses on synaptic mechanisms implicating amino-acids creating inhibition or excitation, and neuropeptides such as endorphins.

    To study the alteration of the chemical transmission inside the central nervous system upon lesion, techniques such as patch clamp are used to detect faint synaptic events. High resolution techniques allow for studying the activity of individual receptors while maintaining the neuronal functional connections intact.

    His recent research interests include:

    • The integration of sensory signals in the spinal cord and the brain, and in particular the cellular changes associated with the development of chronic pain and other pathological conditions of the central nervous system.
    • Mathematical modeling of the functions of neurons.
    • The development of new imaging techniques to study neuronal function.   
    • Changes in synaptic physiology during aging.   

    Taken from:

  • Dr. Emerson Krock

    The passive transfer of fibromyalgia symptoms from patients to mice

    Photography of Dr. Emerson KrockEmerson Krock, PhD, is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Karolinska Institute (KI) in Stockholm, Sweden. He completed his PhD in 2017 at McGill University with Lisbet Haglund, where he investigated mechanisms of intervertebral disc degeneration and chronic low back pain. At the KI, under the mentorship of Camilla Svensson, Emerson has examined various antibody-driven pain mechanisms in models of rheumatoid arthritis. Most recently, he has been exploring autoantibody and autoimmune mechanisms of fibromyalgia. Emerson has received post-doctoral fellowships from the International Association for the Study of Pain and the King Gustaf V's 80-year foundation to support his work.

  • Maria Hudspith, Canadian Pain Task Force

    Exploring the Intersection of Arthritis and Chronic Pain in Canada: Informing the Canadian Pain Task Force

    Photography of Maria HudspithMaria Hudspith is the inaugural Executive Director of Pain BC, a collaborative non-government organization working to improve the lives of people in pain. She brings more than two decades of experience in community engagement, organizational development, policy advocacy and systems change.

    She is the Co-Chair of the Canadian Pain Task Force which is mandated to recommend to the federal government an improved approach to pain care, education and research in Canada. 

    Maria is also a Co-Principal Investigator on the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's (CIHR) Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research Chronic Pain Network and Co-Lead of the Network's patient engagement initiatives.

New approaches to inflammation and tissue repair

February 26, 8:30 am - 11:30 am

Arthritis is a term used to describe a group of musculoskeletal diseases characterized by inflammation in the joints or other areas of the body. Inflammation is a complex biological response that can underpin the redness, swelling, stiffness and pain often seen in arthritic joints. Left unchecked, inflammation can lead to significant tissue damage, resulting in loss of function and disability. But the ways in which inflammation works in arthritis and ways to manipulate it aren’t fully clear, and ongoing research continues to shed light on these pressing questions. As well, advances in our understanding of the regenerative biology of joint tissues are leading to new strategies for promoting repair and healing. This session will highlight current and future approaches to research on inflammation and tissue repair, including innovative ways to do research and new directions for moving forward. The speakers will emphasize the integration of basic and clinical research, highlight potential opportunities for collaborative action by Canadian and international investigators, and encourage the audience to brainstorm opportunities for collaborative action.

  • Jack Hornecker

    Photography of Jack HorneckerJack Hornecker is an 18-year old student in his first year at the Alberta University of the Arts, studying Visual Communication and Design. He is a former patient of the Alberta Children's Hospital, where he participated in a clinical trial through the Rheumatology Clinic to treat a diagnosis of Systemic Juvenile Arthritis.

  • Dr. Ali Akram

    The role of TRAF1 in arthritis

    Photography of Dr. Ali AkramDr. Ali Akram got his M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of Toronto from the Department of Immunology and The Institute of Medical Science. During his graduate studies he worked on deciphering factors contributing to immunodominance following viral infection (i.e., Influenza and HIV-1) in relation to arthritis. He is well published in many high impact journals. Following his graduation, he went on to do a postdoctoral fellowship at the University Health Network/UC Berkeley before joining the lab of Dr. Ali Abdul Sater at York University to conduct his current research on the role of TRAF1 in relation to arthritis.

  • Dr. Cosimo De Bari

    Cell therapy strategies for cartilage defects and osteoarthritis

    Photography of Dr. Cosimo De BariProfessor Cosimo De Bari is a clinically active rheumatologist and a translational scientist with expertise in musculoskeletal regenerative medicine and arthritis pathophysiology. He has a long-standing interest and track record in the study of joint health and disease, with a focus on cell-based therapies for cartilage repair and osteoarthritis.

    Cosimo graduated in Medicine (summa cum laude) from the University of Bari (Italy), where he underwent specialist training in Rheumatology. He obtained his PhD from the University of Leuven (Belgium). In 2003 Cosimo moved to King's College London, where in 2005 he was awarded an MRC Clinician Scientist Fellowship. Since 2007 Cosimo holds a clinical chair in Translational Medicine at the University of Aberdeen.

    Cosimo is the founder and director of the Aberdeen Centre for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Health (awarded “Centre of Excellence in Rheumatology” status by the EULAR), leads the Arthritis and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory, and is deputy director of the Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Therapies Centre Versus Arthritis.

  • Dr. Matthew Grol

    Gene Therapy Strategies for Treatment of Post-Traumatic and Genetic Forms of Osteoarthritis

    Photography of Dr. Matthew GrolDr. Grol received his Ph.D. with Dr. S. Jeffrey Dixon at the University of Western Ontario, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Brendan H. Lee at Baylor College of Medicine. He is currently an Instructor at Baylor where he studies gene therapy strategies for treatment of osteoarthritis. Dr. Grol received CIHR funding for his masters, doctoral and postdoctoral training, and is currently funded by a grant from the Bone Disease Program of Texas. His work on gene therapy for osteoarthritis has been published in Arthritis and Rheumatology and Human Gene Therapy, and one of these strategies is currently the subject of a Phase 1 clinical trial in the U.S.

  • Dr. Rae Yeung

    What's in a name? Lessons learned from childhood arthritis

    Photography of Dr. Rae YeungRae Yeung is Professor of Paediatrics, Immunology and Medical Science at the University of Toronto, and Senior Scientist in Cell Biology Research, Scientific Director - Sickkids Biobank and the Hak-Ming and Deborah Chiu Chair in Translational Paediatric Research at The Hospital For Sick Children, University of Toronto. The goal of Rae’s research is to understand the mechanisms governing autoimmunity, specifically the mechanisms involved in initiating and sustaining the immune response in childhood arthritis and rheumatic diseases. Basic science findings have been translated into clinical correlates, which in turn are leading to new therapeutic interventions to improve the outcome in affected children. Dr. Yeung is leading both national and international efforts to understand the biologic basis for heterogeneity in childhood arthritis and rheumatic diseases towards personalized treatment decisions. Rae’s research is supported by The Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Genome Canada, the Arthritis Society, Canadian Arthritis Network, Province of Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation, Arthritis and Autoimmunity Research Center, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, ZonMw and Reumafonds (The Netherlands) and The Arthritis Foundation (USA).

Getting hooked on big data science

February 26, 12:10 pm - 3:10 pm

The availability of multiple sources of digital data collected as part of our daily lives, and the digitization of healthcare and research data has created an opportunity to adopt technology capable of collecting and analyzing a vast array of information to identify patterns, trends and associations leading to  actionable and effective insights in research and medicine. To improve our understanding and treatment of complex diseases, we need to integrate and systematically analyze these diverse data. This session will examine big data from two important perspectives – the integration of “multi-omics” datasets, and the leveraging of big data collected in peoples’ daily lives from other sources. Speakers will review open sources of big data and tools available for research, highlight approaches in integrative computational biology and artificial intelligence on the path to novel biomarkers and improved therapies, and provide examples of clinical applications of big data in arthritis. This discussion will be anchored within the context of citizen science and consumer engagement.

  • Cheryl Koehn

    Is Big Data a Big Deal to Patients? A Patient Perspective

    Photography of Cheryl KoehnCheryl Koehn lives with rheumatoid arthritis and over her 31 years since diagnosis has become a national patient community leader, educator, patient research partner and published author. Ms. Koehn has dedicated her life to helping others living with arthritis. She is the Founder and President of Arthritis Consumer Experts, Canada’s first national, patient-led organization that provides science-based information and education programs in both official languages to people with arthritis. She served as Co-Chair of the Summit on Standards for Arthritis Prevention and Care, was a volunteer member of the management committee of Canada’s first federally funded arthritis research institute (the Canadian Arthritis Network), was a consumer representative Board Member of the Arthritis Alliance of Canada and today serves as the patient representative on the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Standing Committee on Ethics.

    Ms. Koehn is also an active patient research partner participating in numerous current research projects in Canada and internationally:

    • ICON - Walk10Blocks (CIHR) – Lead, Knowledge User Group
    • PRECISION (CIHR) – Lead, Consumer Core
    • EQUIP-TJR (Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute) – Co-Investigator and Organizational Partner
    • OPERAS (CIHR) – Collaborator and Organizational Partner
    • ANSWER 1 & 2 – Collaborator and Organizational Partner
    • CIHR Project Grant (evaluation of multidisciplinary rheumatology nursing care for people with complex rheumatic diseases) – Co-Investigator
    • Making it Work (CIHR) – Key consumer informant

    In her leadership role at Arthritis Consumer Experts, Ms. Koehn has led the development of numerous information and education innovations to the arthritis community, including the Arthritis ID and Arthritis ID PRO iPhone apps, Arthritis Broadcast Network blog, the annual JointHealth™ Arthritis Medications Report Card and Canada's Best Workplaces for Employees Living with Arthritis Award, among many others.

    Along with co-authors Dr. John Esdaile and Taysha Palmer, Cheryl Koehn authored Rheumatoid Arthritis: PLAN TO WIN, published by Oxford University Press.

    Ms. Koehn lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she enjoys ocean swimming, cycling, and walking her faithful dog, Molly.

  • Dr. Linda Li

    Photography of Dr. Linda LiDr. Linda Li is Professor and Harold Robinson/Arthritis Society Chair at the Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia. She holds a Canada Research Chair in Patient-oriented Knowledge Translation. Dr. Li’s research centers on improving care for people with arthritis and empowering patient self-care. Her work focuses on integration of online, mobile, and wearable tools in health care. Example includes the use of fitness trackers and apps in patient coaching to promote physical activity. Dr. Li’s work in knowledge translation has also led to new studies on the benefits of engaging patients in the full spectrum of research process.

  • Nevena Rebic

    r/thritis: investigating patient-centred questions using data from social media sources

    Photography of Dr. Nevena RebicNevena Rebić is a 2nd year MSc graduate trainee at Arthritis Research Canada and the University of British Columbia Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, where she previously completed a Bachelor of Pharmacy. In her research, she uses her clinical expertise to develop patient-centered approaches to examine how women with rheumatoid arthritis make medication decisions for family planning and pregnancy. She is also a mentor to undergraduate PharmD trainees and supervises student research projects employing data from social media sources. She is a recipient of the CIHR Drug Safety and Effectiveness Cross-Disciplinary Training.

  • Mathew Veras

    Regulators of ectopic calcification in a mouse model of DISH: A multi-omics perspective

    Photography of Dr. Mathew VerasMatthew Veras is a PhD Candidate in his final year in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Western University. He is also affiliated with the Bone & Joint Institute at Western University where he has served as the Chair of the Trainee Leadership Committee. Matthew's PhD project is investigating regulators of ectopic calcification in a mouse model of Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH). This project has involved the integration of transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic datasets in addition to behavioral assays of pain. To date, he has co-authored 4 publications related to intervertebral disc degeneration and DISH.

  • Dr. Igor Jurisica

    Explainable AI for data-driven medicine: From data to models and treatments

    Photography of Dr. Igor JurisicaIgor Jurisica, PhD, Dr Sc is a Senior Scientist at Krembil Research Institute, Professor at University of Toronto and Visiting Scientist at IBM CAS. He is an Adjunct Professor at Pathology and Molecular Medicine at Queen's University, an adjunct scientist at the Institute of Neuroimmunology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, and an Honorary Professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Since 2015, he has also served as Chief Scientist at the Creative Destruction Lab, Rotman School of Management.

    He has published extensively on data mining, visualization and integrative computational biology, including multiple papers in Science, Nature, Nature Medicine, Nature Methods, J Clinical Oncology, J Clinical Investigations, and has over 13,876 citations since 2014, including 788 highly influential citations (SemanticScholar). He has been included in Thomson Reuters 2014, 2015 & 2016 lists of Highly Cited Researchers (, and The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2015 & 2014 Reports. In 2019, he has been included in the Top 100 AI Leaders in Drug Discovery and Advanced Healthcare list (Deep Knowledge Analytics,

Dinner with industry presentations by AbbVie and Janssen

February 25, 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Registration, Travel & Accommodation


Registration opens on November 29th, 2019 and will close Friday February 14th, 2020.
Tickets: $250


For those planning to attend the CRA & AHPA ASM:
Separate registration is required.  

Register for the CRA & AHPA ASM

For current Arthritis Society trainees:
Currently funded Arthritis Society trainees must email for trainee-specific registration and accommodation information. 

Hotel Information & Reservations

721 Government Street
Victoria, British Columbia
V8W 1W5
TEL + 1 250 384 8111

Room rates can be found on the 2020 CRA & AHPA Annual Scientific Meeting website.

Reservations can be made by using this online reservation link. Reservations must be made prior to Thursday, January 23, 2020. After that date, reservations will be subject to prevailing rates and availability.

Poster Session

CARC 2020 Poster Session Booklet [1MB]

  • Call for Abstracts

    The Arthritis Society, Canadian Rheumatology Association and the Canadian Institutes of Research - Institute of Musculoskeletal Heath and Arthritis invite researchers to submit abstracts for poster presentation at the inaugural Canadian Arthritis Research Conference. Researchers at all career stages – including PI’s and trainees – are encouraged to submit abstracts. Abstracts describing original biomedical, clinical, health systems and population health related to the broad area of arthritis and rheumatic disease may be submitted.  

    The conference will feature a range of exciting presentations, discussions, and networking opportunities with experts, researchers, consumers and up-and-coming leaders in the field of arthritis.

    This is an opportunity to share your arthritis research with colleagues from across Canada who are actively pursuing advances in arthritis research.

    There is limited space and abstracts will be selected based on the order in which they are received and may be peer reviewed.

  • Important Dates

    CLOSED: All abstracts must be received via email ( by 5:00 pm EST on January 22nd, 2020. Incomplete or late submissions will not be accepted. Authors will receive an email confirming the receipt of their submission and confirming it meets minimum requirements. 

    IMPORTANT: Space is limited. We are only able to accept the first 50 abstracts submitted via email. Please submit your abstract as soon as possible. 

    CLOSED: Notification of acceptance for a poster will be emailed to authors on Monday, January 27th, 2020. 

    February 25, 2020: Poster presentations will take place on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 between 6 and 8 pm. 

  • Prizes

    Top posters presented by trainees will be selected to receive prizes. Attendees will also be able to vote for their favourite trainee poster.

  • Requirements

    All submissions must include:

    • A clear and concise abstract of no more than 400 words in English that satisfies requirements for scholarly rigour
    • A title
    • A list of all authors using their full names and include their most current email address
    • Institution affiliations for each author
    • Indication of CIHR pillar (I biomedical; II clinical; III health systems and services; or IV population, societal, cultural, environmental)
    • Disclosure of any conflicts of interest
    • Note: All accepted abstracts may be made available to conference attendees and on-line after the conference. Please share your preference for your work to be included on-line.

    Organize content in sections as follows:

    • Background/purpose
    • Methods
    • Results
    • Discussion/Conclusion
  • Presentation Details
    • Please keep the dimensions no more than 4’ high x 8’ wide. Please ensure that it is a one-piece poster presentation or that you bring fasteners for a multi-page presentation. We encourage you to size the title and the text so that it can be read from 1 meter away (approximately 60 point font for the title and 24-36 font for the body text), avoid large sections of text, and use images, charts figures and bulleted lists when possible.  
    • QR Codes will be allowed on posters. The QR code should allow participants to view the poster online without any form of advertising or promotional material.
  • Disclosures

    Authors are responsible for reporting any real or perceived financial conflict of interest. A brief disclosure and conflict of interest statement should be submitted with the abstract and viewable on the poster. Any potential for financial gain that may be derived from reported work may constitute a possible conflict of interest. Disclosure is required in any case in which an individual or company stands to benefit financially from research performed. Therefore, each author must indicate any benefit to an individual or company that may potentially lead to financial reward.

    A “financial interest” may include but is not limited to:

    • being a shareholder
    • receiving research funding or other support
    • receiving fees or other benefits for any role (including speaking at CPD activities)
    • being a paid employee or consultant

    An “affiliation” may include but is not limited to:

    • holding a position in the organization
    • sitting on an advisory committee
    • playing some other role of benefit to the organization

    Disclosures should appear on the bottom left corner of the poster and may follow the recommended format: "Disclosures: None" or "Disclosures: The author(s) disclose a relationship with..."


The Arthritis Society, Canadian Rheumatology Association (CRA) and CIHR-IMHA would like to thank our corporate sponsors for their generous support of this program.

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