The advances that we have made in rheumatology are due in large part to the clinical research model at the Department of Medicine where we treat patients while conducting research. Every time I see a patient, I learn something. Their questions trigger ideas which trigger the work that leads to innovation. Another factor for our success is the culture of research in Alberta built over decades by the former Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research that has led to our community’s international competitiveness.
Rheumatologist and medical scientist Dr. Maksymowych was recruited from the UK to Alberta because of the province’s stellar research environment. Many of his achievements are world firsts, resulting in the advancement of the genetics of inflammatory arthritis, the novel use of imaging technologies in diagnosis and treatment, the identification of new biomarkers, and the creation of new therapeutics for several forms of arthritis. His research network is global, involving investigators and major partners in the pharmaceutical, imaging, and biomarker industries.
Leadership and Collaborations:
Dr. Maksymowych is co-founder and principal investigator the Spondyloarthritis Research Consortium of Canada (SPARCC) established to develop biomarkers and imaging technologies for this form of spinal arthritis. The consortium’s work includes development of a genetic screening test with collaborators in Newfoundland, where there is an increase in the disease and a related disease called psoriatic arthritis. He is founder and chief medical officer of Canadian Research and Education (CaRE) in Arthritis Ltd.
Dr. Maksymowych is a member of, and in many cases has chaired, committees of international associations and groups formed to advance rheumatology and arthritis related research and therapeutic development. These include the Alberta Rheumatoid Arthritis and Pharmacovigilance Program, Canadian Arthritis Network Centres of Excellence, Canadian Rheumatology Association, Outcome Measures in Rheumatology (OMERACT) Soluble Biomarker Group, Assessments in Spondyloarthritis International Society.
Dr. Maksymowych engages in global education initiatives to communicate the latest advances in the field of rheumatology and arthritis.
The imaging technologies Dr. Maksymowych developed quantifies the degree of inflammation in the spine, hip and knee for different forms of arthritis such as spondylitis (inflammation of the vertebrae) and osteoarthritis. The methodology shows the effects a drug is having on inflammation and is the industry standard for evaluation of new therapeutics in clinical trials.
Dr. Maksymowych co-discovered that blood protein 14-3-3n is a biomarker that indicates the presence of rheumatoid arthritis, the severity of the disease and a cause of joint inflammation. A blood test developed from the discovery was commercialized as JOINTstat™ and is used widely in North America.
Through the international RA BIODAM Study, Dr. Maksymowych integrated imaging data along with biological samples and clinical data from academic and community-based practices into the largest biorepository for rheumatoid arthritis research in North America. This resulted in an international database linking 35 academic and community-based sites in Canada and the United States, Europe and Israel in a collaborative effort to develop biomarkers and other precision technologies in rheumatoid arthritis. The University of Alberta site has been the major contributor to this initiative with respect to patient recruitment, biological samples and the systematic collection of imaging data. A spin-off benefit of the study has been the adoption of new standardized operating procedures for transporting biosamples across continents, now adopted by companies like Cryoport and FedEx.
He has instigated numerous international collaborative networks that have culminated in the development of multiple scoring systems based on his imaging and biomarker technologies for use in both diagnostic and therapeutic settings as well as clinical trials research.
Dr. Maksymowych has more than 400 publications to his name. He has served as reviewer for such publications as The Lancet, Arthritis Rheumatology, Arthritis Research and Therapy, Journal of Rheumatology, Rheumatology (Oxford) and Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. He is on the editorial boards for Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology and Journal of Rheumatology and is on the executive board of the Spondyloarthritis Research and Treatment Network. He is Chair of the International Biomarker Working Group for the Outcome Measures in Rheumatology Consortium . He serves as a clinical advisor at Augurex Life Sciences Corp, which has licensed the 14-3-3n biomarker discovery, and has served on numerous national and international steering committees for the pharmaceutical industry.
Dr. Maksymowych’s research is supported by provincial, Canadian and international funding organizations and global industries including Abbvie, Novartis, and Pfizer.
Dr. Maksymowych’s honours include the Distinguished Investigator Award from the Canadian Rheumatology Association.
ankylosing spondylitis, anti-TNF therapy, biologics, biomarkers, clinical trial, inflammation, MRI, osteoarthritis, prognosis, radiography, rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis