Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Robert H. Shmerling, M.D., is a member of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. He was program director for the BIDMC rheumatology fellowship program for six years, and served for more than two decades as the Robinson Firm Chief in the teaching program of the BIDMC internal medicine residency. As a practicing rheumatologist for over 30 years, Dr. Shmerling has engaged in a mix of patient care, teaching, and research. His practice has included challenging patients, both in the clinic and the inpatient consultation service. His research interests center on diagnostic studies in patients with musculoskeletal symptoms, rheumatic, and autoimmune diseases. In addition to frequent presentations to trainees, colleagues, and as a speaker by invitation at lectures, he has published research regarding infectious arthritis and how well diagnostic tests perform in patients with suspected rheumatic disease.


Posts by Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Are polypills and population-based treatment the next big things?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Combining multiple medications into a single pill, or polypill, is one approach to improving adherence (taking medication as prescribed). Depending on the conditions being treated, it may be easier for people to take a single pill, but there are also downsides to this approach.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: When marketing puts your health at risk

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Can health marketing be harmful? Watch out for health ads that make misleading or even dangerous claims that an unproven product or treatment is better than a proven one.

Why medical research keeps changing its mind

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

When a medical study announces findings that seem to say the opposite of what’s been understood and accepted about a particular condition or treatment, it can make you question all medical news. A study aimed to determine just how frequently this happens, and with which conditions.

A new look at steroid injections for knee and hip osteoarthritis

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A new report questions the effectiveness of steroid injections for osteoarthritis, but does this mean that everyone who is already receiving these injections, or may be a candidate for them, should avoid them?

Harvard Health Ad Watch: A fibromyalgia treatment (“But you look so good!”)

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A commercial for the fibromyalgia medication Lyrica gets certain points right, yet important information is missing, such as other vital aspects of treatment and how this drug compares to other medications.

Curcumin for arthritis: Does it really work?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Could a naturally-occurring substance derived from a common spice provide relief from osteoarthritis of the knee? A new study suggests curcumin might help, but the research has some important limitations.

HPV and cancer: The underappreciated connection

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Human papilloma virus (HPV), a common viral infection, has been linked to cancer of the genitals, anus, mouth, and throat, as well as cervical cancer. Yet a survey of US adults found that many people are not aware of this connection.

Plant-based diets are best… or are they?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Researchers analyzing stroke risk found that vegetarians were slightly more likely to have a hemorrhagic stroke, though less likely to have other types of heart disease compared to people who did not follow a plant-based diet.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: A new treatment for knee arthritis

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A TV ad for a procedure to treat arthritis of the knee claims that relief lasts for up to a year, but not much research has been done on its effectiveness. Studies are small and show little to support the claim.

If you have migraines, put down your coffee and read this

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Sometimes not having coffee can cause a headache, but caffeine is also a trigger for migraine headaches. A small study examining caffeine consumption and migraines found that people who tended to consume more caffeinated beverages were more likely to have a migraine.