The Future of Immune-mediated Inflammatory Diseases


Lisa B. Samalonis, Managing Editor

Joseph F. Merola, MD, MMSc, discusses his involvement with the 2018 Interdisciplinary Autoimmune Summit (IAS) meeting, and the future of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs) with The Dermatologist. He is one of the co-chairs of the meeting and is professor, Harvard Medical School, director, Clinical Unit for Research Innovation and Trials (CUReIT), Dermatology, and co-director, Center for Skin and Related Musculoskeletal Diseases, Department of Dermatology and Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, Associate Program Director, Combined Medicine-Dermatology Residency Program, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Q. Why is it beneficial for dermatologists to attend the IAS?

A: There is an ever-increasing overlap and complexity between specialties with regard to pathophysiologic mechanisms of immunologic disease, associated co-morbidities, drug mechanism and drug-induced complications and considerations. The IAS is an incredibly unique opportunity to communicate with colleagues across the boundaries of traditional disciplines.  The dermatologist is at the forefront of cutaneous toxicities of immuno-oncologic therapy, cutaneous manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and connective tissue disease. Dermatologists attending the IAS will learn about the cutting edge of disease diagnostics and therapeutics at the interface of GI-Derm, Rheum-Derm, and related fields. 

 Q. Why are you involved with the IAS meeting?

A. As a rheumatologist and dermatologist, I am particularly committed to education at the interface of these specialties and have come to appreciate the benefits to patients, trainees, and providers of interdisciplinary care models and education. Facilitating communication between our specialties is required for improved patient care outcomes and the IAS provides a forum unlike any other to accomplish this goal.

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Q. Where do you see the future of treatment of psoriatic disease?

A. The treatment approach to psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and its associated co-morbidities is complicated and often requires a multi-disciplinary approach to care. These collaborative care models deliver the highest quality of care to our patients—facilitating appropriate, targeted therapy to treat patients to their improvement goals. 

Q. Any research or highlights about your work you would like to share?

A. The mission of the IAS is very much aligned with that of our PPACMAN consortium (Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Clinics Multicenter Advancement Network). I am president and chair of PPACMAN. Our mission is to nucleate psoriasis-psoriatic arthritis combined clinics and centers to advance a multi-level approach to psoriatic patients. Our educational goal is to facilitate interdisciplinary care and co-management through combined clinics and other educational efforts.

For more information and news related to the 2018 Interdisciplinary Autoimmune Summit (IAS), please visit