Interview with Nick Turkas, MS
Nick Turkas began his service with the Arthritis Foundation in 1999 as a local branch program director. After eight years, Nick left the Arthritis Foundation and worked for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, returning to the Arthritis Foundation in 2009. Since 2010, Nick Turkas has led the Arthritis Foundation’s health and wellness programs of the Mid-Atlantic Region. In his new role at the home office he oversees the Helpline, Arthritis Resource Finder data, the knowledge base and provides trainings and technical assistance to field staff. He now lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, son Cannon (6) and daughter Cleo (4). In his spare time, Nick Turkas is an active member at his church and F3, a fitness and service organization.
1. What do you think is the most important issue today in osteoarthritis?
The most important issue today in osteoarthritis (OA) is to improve the lives of people living with OA by relieving pain and increasing function. This can be accomplished by stimulating research and by developing new therapies. Breaking down barriers is crucial so that improved OA diagnostics and treatments can be developed. In addition, people with OA need tools and resources to help them live better.
2. How is your organization working to address this issue or other issues related to OA?
The Arthritis Foundation leads and funds cutting-edgescientific investigation to discover more about arthritis and what can keep it from developing in the first place. We are striving to deliver on scientific discovery by improving decision making, as well as making lives better through effective prevention measures, earlier diagnosis and new treatments.
The focus of our recent 2016 Accelerating Osteoarthritis Clinical Trials Workshop was firmly on the future, as we aim to identify ways to get new diagnostics and treatments to clinics faster. Discussion in the workshop showed that participants look to the Arthritis Foundation for our strong ties to the arthritis patient population. We can help bridge the gap between scientists and patients, which includes communicating drug and treatment feedback from patients, sharing what benefits of treatment patients prioritize, and learning which patient-reported outcomes are clinically meaningful to achieve these desired benefits.
In addition, the Arthritis Foundation offers trusted information and powerful health tracking tools to improve the quality of life of people with arthritis.
3. What is a headline you’d like to see about osteoarthritis in five years?
“Patient engagement has truly advanced the state of research.”
4. What is one interesting fact you’d like people to know about your organization?
The Arthritis Foundation recently awarded nearly $5.5 million in scientific research funding to 11 individuals we’re confident can accelerate the search for new solutions to arthritis. Our 2015 request for “Delivering on Discovery” proposals resulted in 167 submissions from across the United States and Canada. A panel of advisors selected the proposals they felt showed the greatest promise of achieving a faster cure for one or more types of arthritis.
What makes this solicitation process particularly unique is that we opened it up to virtually anyone who can provide bold, new ideas that will potentially speed up the discovery of a cure, whether or not the applicant has prior experience in arthritis research. We want to engage the most creative minds in our quest for solutions to arthritis.
5. What is your interest in the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance?
The Arthritis Foundation is a part of the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance because we are committed to making OA a national priority and improving the lives of people with OA.