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Yvonne Claire Lee, MD, MMSc
Associate Physician, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Brigham and Women's Hospital
Department of Medicine
Rheumatology, Immunology
75 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02115

Research Location: Boston Lying-In


Research Narrative:

My research focuses on the inflammatory and non-inflammatory components of pain in the rheumatic diseases.  Pain is the most common reason patients seek rheumatologic care.  However, little is known about the mechanisms of pain in rheumatic diseases, and the best ways to treat pain are still unknown.

To examine the many components of pain among patients with rheumatic disease, we supplement data from validated instruments of clinical pain severity with quantitative sensory testing methods to assess experimental pain sensitivity.  Using different testing paradigms, we are able to examine the contributions of peripheral mechanisms (e.g., inflammation and damage at joint sites) and central mechanisms (e.g., modulation of pain by the brain and spinal cord) to overall pain sensitivity.  Current research activities include: 1) a study to examine differences in central pain processing among rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients compared to healthy controls and 2) a clinical trial of milnacipran, a serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, in the treatment of pain in RA.

We also collaborate with prospective observational cohorts, such as the Brigham Rheumatoid Arthritis Sequential Study, to examine relationships between pain and inflammation in large rheumatic disease populations.  We are currently conducting a study to examine the effects of widespread pain on functional status.  We are also working with a separate cohort of early inflammatory arthritis patients to describe the acute to chronic pain transition.  We are particularly interested in defining clinical predictors of the development of chronic pain.

Harvard Medical School, 2009, MMSc
University of Michigan Medical School, 2003, MD

Publications (Pulled from Harvard Catalyst Profiles):

1. Lee YC, Bingham CO, Edwards RR, Marder W, Kristine P, Bolster MB, Clauw DJ, Moreland LW, Lu B, Wohlfahrt A, Zhang Z, Neogi T. Pain Sensitization is Associated with Disease Activity in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: A Cross-Sectional Study. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2017 Apr 24.

2. Kim H, Cui J, Frits M, Iannaccone C, Coblyn J, Shadick NA, Weinblatt ME, Lee YC. Fibromyalgia Predicts Two-Year Changes in Functional Status in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2017 Feb 09.

3. Cohen EM, Dossett ML, Mehta DH, Davis RB, Lee YC. Factors associated with complementary medicine use in pediatric musculoskeletal conditions: Results from a national survey. Complement Ther Med. 2017 Apr; 31:53-58.

4. Berna C, Kirsch I, Zion SR, Lee YC, Jensen KB, Sadler P, Kaptchuk TJ, Edwards RR. Side effects can enhance treatment response through expectancy effects: an experimental analgesic randomized controlled trial. Pain. 2017 Feb 04.

5. Rao DA, Gurish MF, Marshall JL, Slowikowski K, Fonseka CY, Liu Y, Donlin LT, Henderson LA, Wei K, Mizoguchi F, Teslovich NC, Weinblatt ME, Massarotti EM, Coblyn JS, Helfgott SM, Lee YC, Todd DJ, Bykerk VP, Goodman SM, Pernis AB, Ivashkiv LB, Karlson EW, Nigrovic PA, Filer A, Buckley CD, Lederer JA, Raychaudhuri S, Brenner MB. Pathologically expanded peripheral T helper cell subset drives B cells in rheumatoid arthritis. Nature. 2017 02 01; 542(7639):110-114.

6. Cohen EM, Morley-Fletcher A, Mehta DH, Lee YC. A systematic review of psychosocial therapies for children with rheumatic diseases. Pediatr Rheumatol Online J. 2017 Jan 17; 15(1):6.

7. Dave AJ, Selzer F, Losina E, Usiskin I, Collins JE, Lee YC, Band P, Dalury DF, Iorio R, Kindsfater K, Katz JN. The association of pre-operative body pain diagram scores with pain outcomes following total knee arthroplasty. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2017 May; 25(5):667-675.

8. Lee YC, Karlamangla AS, Yu Z, Liu CC, Finkelstein JS, Greendale GA, Harlow SD, Solomon DH. Pain Severity in Relation to the Final Menstrual Period in a Prospective Multiethnic Observational Cohort: Results From the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation. J Pain. 2017 Feb; 18(2):178-187.

9. Boyden SD, Hossain IN, Wohlfahrt A, Lee YC. Non-inflammatory Causes of Pain in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2016 Jun; 18(6):30.

10. Lee YC, Agnew-Blais J, Malspeis S, Keyes K, Costenbader K, Kubzansky LD, Roberts AL, Koenen KC, Karlson EW. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Risk for Incident Rheumatoid Arthritis. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2016 Mar; 68(3):292-8.