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Biomarkers in Rheumatoid Disease

February 20, 2019 in Awareness, Education

By Kathryne Marks

Why are biomarkers important?

Looking for certain markers in a blood sample is a method that is helpful in the diagnosis many conditions, including Rheumatoid Disease (RD) and other autoimmune diseases. These biological markers—biomarkers— are increasingly helpful as we work to get to earlier and earlier diagnoses in order to hopefully get people treatment sooner—even before obvious symptoms—to improve outcomes.

There are a few different markers to know about, the most important of which are antibodies. Antibodies are produced by B cells, one of the most important types of cells of the adaptive immune system. Each B cell produces antibodies that are specific for, or capable of binding to, a particular other molecule. You don’t need to be an immunologist to understand why it is essential to identify these antibodies.

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imaware™ Partners with Rheumatoid Patient Foundation to Promote Awareness and Early Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis

January 28, 2019 in Awareness, Press Release, RPF News

Makers of at-home health test for RA offer a $10,000 matching grant for Rheumatoid Awareness Day

Houston, TX - January 29, 2019imaware™, an at-home testing platform for chronic illness and disease, including rheumatoid arthritis, designed by healthcare company Microdrop, today announced it has partnered with the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation (RPF), working together toward earlier diagnoses and improved patient outcomes.  The newly formed partnership of the at-home testing platform and leading patient advocacy organization for people with rheumatoid disease coincides with the arrival of the 7th annual Rheumatoid Awareness Day on February 2. To further support patients and RPF’s mission, imaware™ is sponsoring Rheumatoid Awareness Day by offering a matching grant for all donations to RPF from now through February 12, 2019, up to $10,000 USD. Donations can be made on the RPF website at:

"RPF's mission is to improve the lives of people with rheumatoid disease,” says RPF Founder and President, Kelly O’Neill Young. “With the medications available today, nothing improves outcomes as much as early diagnosis and treatment. The imaware™ test has the potential to help millions of people have more successful treatment and a better life."

“We believe that the imaware™ at-home rheumatoid arthritis test will help reduce the number of undiagnosed people with RA,” said Jani Tuomi, co-founder, imaware. “With a partner like the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation, we will be able to better engage with the patient community to educate, screen, and ultimately help patients engage their doctors sooner for diagnosis.”

Rheumatoid arthritis, or rheumatoid disease, is a progressive inflammatory disease causing damage to joint and organ tissues, resulting in severe pain, frequent disability, and increased mortality. Rheumatoid Arthritis Day was established in 2013 by the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation as a way to address public lack of understanding of rheumatoid arthritis. The  goal of the partnership is to improve speed-to-diagnosis and treatment to help those impacted by the disease to access treatment faster and improve their health outcomes.

How imaware™ Rheumatoid Arthritis test works:

Three biomarkers commonly associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis are measured: rheumatoid factors (RF) and cyclic citrullinated peptides (CCP) biomarkers. The combination of these biomarkers has been demonstrated to identify the disease in its early development, even before symptoms may show. Available online at for $99.00 USD, the test uses a small amount of blood obtained by a finger prick and is collected in a vial. People then mail the sample back in and within five days will receive their confidential test results via a secure portal.  The new imaware™ Rheumatoid Arthritis test expands upon the lineup of Celiac Disease screening and monitoring tests, and is currently available in the United States.

About the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation:
The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with rheumatoid disease. RPF was founded in 2011 to address a significant lack of disease education, comparatively low levels of research funding, and difficulty obtaining adequate treatment. RPF is committed to creating pathways to better clinical care and disease outcomes through education, awareness, and patient-centered research. For more information, visit or follow RPF on Facebook or Twitter.

About imaware™

The imaware™ mission is to provide patients with the tools to drive awareness to chronic illness and empower patients to live a better and healthier life - sooner. Each imaware test is designed and validated alongside world-renowned doctors from the most prestigious medical research facilities including Dr. Timothy Niewold, Director of the NYU Colton Center for Autoimmunity, Dr. Kevin Deane, Endowed Chair for Rheumatology Research, University of Colorado Denver, Dr. Stefano Guandalini of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, and Dr. Margaret Spitz and Dr. Melissa Bondy of the Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Baylor College of Medicine.
For more information, visit us online at

ACR 2018 – Coming Full Circle

November 6, 2018 in Advocacy, Awareness, Encouragement, Events

by Dana Symons

Seven years ago, I had my first volunteer experience with the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. It was also my first time attending the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, which was held that year in Chicago. It was an experience that changed my life. It was eye-opening and exciting as I saw so many people from multiple disciplines coming together with the goal of helping people with rheumatic diseases. It was also where I got to meet some long-time internet friends face-to-face, including RPF Founder, Kelly Young, several other patients, and some rheumatologists that I knew from around the globe. The experience gave me hope that by working together, we really can improve the lives of people with rheumatoid disease and work toward a cure.

This year’s ACR Annual Meeting brought us back to Chicago – and me to my sixth time attending this annual conference with RPF. Looking back, it’s fun to see the progress that has been made since that trip seven years ago. Back then, we were just about the only patients to be found at the conference. Over the years, that has begun to change and the ACR has been more open to involving patients in the conference, even having a special section of patient poster presentations in the poster hall, and having more conversations and sessions that are patient-centric.

There seemed to be a general attitude shift, where a number of years ago we received push back from some people who seemed to think that we had “arrived” at the pinnacle of what was needed in rheumatoid disease treatment and that patients were doing just fine. Whereas this year, we received no push back, and instead were embraced with open arms by other attendees (doctors, researchers, biotech and pharmaceutical employees) who see the need for more and better resources for people with RD and for heightened education and awareness of the true nature of this systemic disease. We offered free copies of the book, Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked, and educational “Treat to Target” posters for doctors’ exam rooms. We had an overwhelming response, with requests for resources from doctors in nine different countries!

Other things have changed, too. New drugs have come on the market – including new oral medications, auto-injector pens for methotrexate, and biosimilars. Biosimilars have been a huge topic of conversation for the last few years. A biosimilar is kind of like a generic version of a drug, except that since these medicines are made biologically rather than chemically, they are not exactly the same as the branded drugs. They offer a potential cost savings and theoretically similar response rates as their branded counterparts – though there’s some debate about whether the branded and biosimilar drugs would work the same way in a particular individual. There are also new drugs still in the pipeline that offer future hope to people who have not responded to current treatments on the market.

On the whole, this year was a very positive experience, and it feels like we have come full circle back to Chicago, and back to a place of hope and possibilities. We set things in motion in 2011 and have made some strong headway toward our goals of patient involvement, recognition of RD as not just arthritis, and support for our educational and awareness campaigns. There is lots of work yet to do on all fronts, but it seems that in many ways, things are headed in the right direction. Let’s fight together to keep this momentum going until we reach our final vision: a world where no one suffers from rheumatoid disease.

Rheumatoid Disease Billboard Campaign

September 11, 2018 in Awareness, Exciting, RPF News

In 2017, RPF launched what is to our knowledge the first-ever Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign for rheumatoid disease -- utilizing donated billboard space from Lamar Advertising. Lamar has been a great media partner, participating with us in Rheumatoid Awareness Day, and helping us place longer-term PSAs on billboards throughout the country. Each of the ads may change locations within the given city as space becomes available, with each city running the ads for up to a year. Below is a list of cities that have or are running our billboard campaigns, along with some images of the ads. If you spot one of our billboards, let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram -- and if you can snap a photo, even better! We'd love to hear your feedback and are excited to have this opportunity to bring awareness to the public through this program. RPF uses donated photos from actual rheumatoid patients in all of its ads. If you'd like a chance to be featured on one of our billboards, click here to donate a photo!


Milwaukee, WI -- 2019-2020

Reno, NV -- 2019-2020

Detroit, MI -- 2019-2020

Lancaster, PA -- 2018-2019

Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Billboard for Rheumatoid Disease - Public Service Announcement Lancaster Pennsylvania

Dallas, TX -- 2018-2019

Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Billboard for Rheumatoid Disease - Public Service Announcement Dallas Texas


Boise, ID -- 2018-2019

Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Billboard for Rheumatoid Disease - Public Service Announcement Boise Idaho

Chicago, IL -- 2017-2018

Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Billboard for Rheumatoid Disease - Public Service Announcement Chicago Illinois

Orlando, FL -- 2017-2018

Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Billboard for Rheumatoid Disease - Public Service Announcement Orlando Florida

Seattle -- 2017-2018

Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Billboard for Rheumatoid Disease - Public Service Announcement Seattle Washington

Kansas City -- 2017-2018

Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Billboard for Rheumatoid Disease - Public Service Announcement Kansas City

An Awareness Day Tribute, In Loving Memory of Nancy Lee Bush

February 2, 2018 in Awareness, Memorials

by Ashley Bush

Today is Rheumatoid Awareness Day. A day that my family and I were not even aware existed until this past fall, for a disease that my mother battled for 26 years as we fought beside her. This photo is of me holding my mom’s hand in one of her last hospital visits of many. I took it for myself and never thought I would share it, but today I feel I want to. This disease, and frankly all autoimmune diseases, are devastating to millions with such little understanding and awareness, even in the adjacent medical fields. No mass marketing campaign with pink ribbons. No online challenges. Just as many people suffering and a fraction of the information.

When my mother began getting sick, I was 9 years old. I was witness as some days she would wake up not able to move and as a busy mother she would drag herself across the floor to a hot bath, that she asked for me to run in order to ease her stiffness and have a chance at moving that day. And sometimes once she got going it was like she was as healthy as anyone else. There were not outward signs of her inward struggle and the symptoms came and went without any warning. She took heavy medications that she was told were really the only options but would harm her bones and organs in the long term, to which she replied “I have games to watch, shows to see, kids to raise -- I'll worry about that later when it comes. Give me whatever I need to take.”

The crippling of her hands came quickly after her diagnosis and was the first outward sign to show. I remember feeling embarrassed about them. I don’t think I was embarrassed of her, but I was embarrassed for her when I saw people stare at her hands or shake them and feel how fragile they were. I could see them wondering what was wrong with her but not knowing how to ask. As a child it broke my heart. As an adult it made me angry. It was quickly that the strength left her hands and wrists. She was unable to open jars, or carry anything of weight – but despite those limitations that only increased over the years, these hands were strong. The strongest ones that have and likely will ever touch me. These are the hands that held me through my first heartbreak, and every one that followed. They pushed me to be my best. They scolded me when I was wrong. They wiped my tears away. They clapped the loudest at every performance. They cooked all the meals that were hot on the table when I lived at home and fed my soul when I came back to visit. They waved wildly to greet me when I walked in the door. They held my hair when I was sick. In later years sent me daily texts of encouragement and even wrote long-winded posts on Facebook for her friends to enjoy. They held onto my own hand through so many moments, giving me the courage I couldn’t find in myself. They did all that while facing immense pain day in and day out. And in the last moments this tiny, mangled hand grabbed my hand in hers, looked into my tear filled eyes and told me without weakness in voice that it was time for her to go and not to cry because she would always be with me and she knew I was strong enough now to do it without her.

This disease has shaped who I am. Through the years and countless complications and hospital visits it became a master education for me of our very flawed medical and insurance systems. It taught me the overwhelming importance of being your own advocate. The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation is an organization that is working to have the name of this disease changed from Rheumatoid Arthritis to Rheumatoid Disease. It is my experience that not only the public is unaware of the large numbers devastated by autoimmune diseases (RA being at the top), but that patients, specifically of RA, and medical professionals have a lack of understanding that can be related back to lack of funding due to the downplaying the word "arthritis" brings to this cause. I believe this is the first in a very important step as the word "arthritis" is a misconception of the disease. It does damage the joints, but it is a disease that attacks the body, affecting the tissues and other major systems as well. A large percentage of people are diagnosed in their late 30s and early 40s. In the last 2 weeks alone, I have heard “rheumatoid arthritis” used as a punchline in two TV shows, emphasizing why a very old person can’t move as quickly. That would be osteoarthritis, or commonly called just arthritis - which is the wearing down of joints over time. Rheumatoid Disease is an autoimmune condition where the body is attacking its own tissues including the joints and internal organs, and over time also leads to bone erosion and deformity. It affects people of all ages, including children. You see the commercials for medications on TV and you likely know someone that might be struggling with flare-ups in silence. So today, the first year that I am aware of a day dedicated to this rotten disease, I decided to share my mom’s hands affected by RA and share a little bit of info and a small window into an epic battle with the disease. Thanks for reading my contribution to awareness. It’s my sincere hope that even one person diagnosed or a family member with a loved one diagnosed will have an easier journey because we share our stories and make more knowledge and understanding possible.

In Loving Memory of Nancy Lee Bush - RA Warrior.

Post & Win! Show Your #RheumDay Support

January 31, 2018 in Awareness

February 2nd is Rheumatoid Awareness Day, and we need your help to spread the word and heighten awareness! Click here for list of ways that you can get involved. Use the hashtag #RheumDay on social media as you share awareness images, our petition for a National Proclamation, a snapshot of your local Awareness Day billboards, or photos and videos of yourself showing how YOU are participating and helping to bring awareness.

A Special #RheumDay Giveaway!

This year, we are asking you to share your own personal photos of how you are celebrating rheumatoid disease awareness, and your own videos telling the world why we need this special day of recognition. Post your photos and videos publicly on social media with the hashtag #RheumDay, and you'll be entered to win a prize from our Awareness Gear Store! We'll select three random winners to pick out the prize of their choosing! Here are some ideas of what you can post to enter:

  • A photo of yourself wearing indigo & gold or other awareness gear
  • A photo of one of our digital billboards in your own town
  • A photo of our #RheumDay poster or Awareness Cards that you are sharing with others
  • A video of yourself sharing why you signed the petition for National Proclamation and why others should do the same
  • A video of yourself sharing a part of your RD journey or what a day with RD looks like for you
  • A video of yourself sharing what you most want others to know about RD
  • A video of yourself sharing why Rheumatoid Awareness Day is important to you
  • Your own special celebration - we've seen photos with gathered friends & family celebrating, decorated awareness cupcakes, and workplace gatherings, tattoos and dedicated songs, to name a few. Get creative, celebrate in your own way and share photos and videos with us!

Giveaway Rules
Must be 18 or older and a resident of the United States to win. Must be an original photo or video with relevant content as outlined above, shared publicly on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #RheumDay. Entries must be received between February 1, 2018 at 12:00am ET and February 3, 2018 at 11:59pm ET. Winners can choose any one item from the RPF Awareness Gear Store as their prize.

Lamar Advertising Partnering with Rheumatoid Patient Foundation in Support of Rheumatoid Awareness Day

January 23, 2018 in Awareness, Exciting, Press Release, RPF News


Outdoor Advertising Company Donating Billboards to Help Organization Raise Awareness and Spur Greater Funding and Research


Baton Rouge, LA – January 23, 2018 – Lamar Advertising Company (Nasdaq: LAMR), one of the largest out of home media companies in the world, is supporting Rheumatoid Awareness Day through the donation of more than 200 billboards in 29 states across the country which will feature messaging designed to raise awareness of this life-shortening disease. Taking place on February 2nd, Rheumatoid Awareness Day is designed to address the lack of awareness for rheumatoid disease, a crippling affliction affecting millions. Lamar’s involvement in the effort was initiated by one of its own employees suffering from the disease.

“As a medium, outdoor advertising has tremendous power to drive awareness of important issues and inspire action,” said Barbara Campbell, real estate manager at Lamar Advertising of Milwaukee. “Two million Americans like me suffer from this progressive disease. We are proud to support the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation and join with many of their partners to mark the day and help bolster education efforts that hopefully will lead to earlier diagnoses and better treatments.”

Rheumatoid Awareness Day was created in 2013 to, in part, generate support for increases in much-needed funding for crucial research toward effective treatments and a cure. Rheumatoid Arthritis currently receives only 8% of government funding per patient of comparable diseases. In years past, the organization has primarily used digital channels to spread its message. This year, Lamar is making selected billboards in high-trafficked locations available to help the organization reach a wider and more captive audience.
“We are so grateful for this partnership with Lamar Advertising, which has allowed us to broaden our rheumatoid disease awareness efforts across the country,” said Dana Symons, Vice President of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. “Our community has responded with tremendous enthusiasm to the billboards as they help bring this misunderstood and often invisible illness into the public light.”

The billboard creative, designed by the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation, features the faces of actual rheumatoid disease patients who have donated their photos for awareness purposes. The campaign began earlier this month and will culminate on February 2nd.

About Lamar Advertising Company
Founded in 1902, Lamar Advertising Company (Nasdaq: LAMR) is one of the largest outdoor advertising companies in the world, with more than 340,000 displays across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Lamar offers advertisers a variety of billboard, interstate logo and transit advertising formats, helping both local businesses and national brands reach broad audiences every day. In addition to its more traditional out-of-home inventory, Lamar is proud to offer its customers the largest network of digital billboards in the United States with over 2,800 displays. Please feel free to explore our website or contact us at for additional information.

About the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation
The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation is a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with rheumatoid disease. RPF was founded in 2011 to address a significant lack of disease education, comparatively low levels of research funding, and difficulty obtaining adequate treatment. RPF is committed to creating pathways to better clinical care and disease outcomes through education, awareness, and patient-centered research. For more information, visit or follow RPF on Facebook or Twitter.

Press Contacts:

Greg Kalish
GK Communications
(917) 592-1942

Allie McAlpin
Communications Director, Lamar Advertising Company
(225) 926-1000

Dana Symons
Vice President, Rheumatoid Patient Foundation
(616) 443-1998

Billboards for Rheumatoid Awareness Day

December 18, 2017 in Advocacy, Awareness, Exciting, RPF News

Rheumatoid Awareness Day is February 2nd! This year, we are doing something BIG. Really, big. I'm talking rheumatoid awareness messaging in HUGE letters on billboards across the country! Early in 2017, we launched the first ever Public Service Announcement campaign for rheumatoid disease through the help of Lamar Advertising. Through that program we have placed physical billboards in several major cities across the U.S., including Chicago, Orlando, Kansas City and Seattle. The billboards are run on donated space from Lamar, so that all we have to pay for is the printing cost to get our messaging onto the vinyl. The printed vinyls are good for about a year and will go up and down around these cities as space becomes available.

However, with this being the digital age, we are now also in the world of digital billboards. Besides running our PSAs throughout the year, Lamar has already gotten commitments from over 40 different cities to run digital billboards supporting Rheumatoid Awareness Day, in nearly 200 digital billboard locations. Phoenix and Kansas City also started running digital awareness ads for us. Check out the images below that are running and will be running across the country. We'll also post a list of participating cities below and update that as more are added. A huge thank you to Lamar Advertising (especially Barbara who has coordinated all of this for us). If your city is listed below, be sure to thank your local Lamar office for their support!

Want YOUR face to be featured on a billboard? All of the images we use are donated photos from actual rheumatoid patients. Click here to donate your photos for RPF's use.







Abilene, TX
Amarillo, TX
Arlington, TX
Atlanta, GA
Austin, TX
Beaumont, TX
Billings, MT
Boston, MA
Bridgeport, WV
Bristol, TN
Brownsville, TX
Brownwood, TX
Cape Cod, MA
Cedar Rapids, IA
Central OH
Cleveland, OH
College Station, TX
Columbus, MS
Corpus Christi, TX
Dallas, TX
Dayton, OH
Daytona Beach, FL
Decatur, IL
Des Moines, IA
East Missouri, MO
Green Bay, WI
Hammond, LA
Harrisburg, PA
Hannibal, MO
Indianapolis, IN
Jackson, MS
Johnson City, TN
Kingsport, TN
Lake Charles, LA
Lancaster, CA
Laredo, TX
Las Vegas, NV
Lexington, KY
Los Angeles, CA
Lubbock, TX
Madison, WI
Midland, TX
Milwaukee, WI
Mobile, AL
Monroe, LA
New Hampshire
New Mexico/El Paso
New York, NY
Ocala, FL
Odessa, TX
Oklahoma City, OK
Omaha, NE
Phoenix, AZ
Pittsburgh, PA
Providence, RI
Rapid City, SD
Rockford, IL
Rocky Mount, NC
Salem, OR
San Angelo, TX
Temple, TX
Toledo, OH
Topeka, KS
Tulsa, OK
Tyler, TX
Victoria, TX
York/Lancaster, PA