Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Robert H. Shmerling, MD, is the former Clinical Chief 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 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. 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

COVID-19: If you’re older and have chronic health problems, read this

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Older people who have a chronic medical condition are at increased risk for severe disease and death if they contract COVID-19. Just how old is “older,” what constitutes chronic disease, and how can you lower risks?

OK, boomer: You’re not the only one who needs testing for hepatitis C

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Recent guidelines for screening for hepatitis C focused on baby boomers because that population had most of the undiagnosed infections, but because new infections are increasing fastest in those 20 to 39, the guidelines have been revised.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: What’s being cleansed in a detox cleanse?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The idea of a detox diet or cleanse seems like it might be beneficial, and the advertising is certainly compelling, but these products are not regulated in any way. Evidence of beneficial effects from using them is limited, and there are reports of side effects and complications.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: Are nutritional drinks actually good for you?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

If you believe ads for nutritional supplement drinks, you might think you can improve your health by drinking them. But for most people, their value is questionable and their cost adds up.

Is there any good news about the coronavirus pandemic?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the daily flood of news about the coronavirus and COVID-19. Here’s some positive news and reasons to feel optimism.

Time to redefine normal body temperature?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Is 98.6˚ F still the norm for body temperature? Data collected over almost 160 years show that the normal body temperature has been declining and is now roughly one degree lower.

Can stress really make hair (or fur?) turn gray?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Does stress really turn hair gray? Scientists conducted experiments that simulated stress and led to gray hair—in mice, which does not mean it’s true for humans, regardless of what you may have heard in the media.

Hands or feet asleep? What to do

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

It’s happened to all of us: a hand or leg temporarily “falls asleep,” usually from being in one position for too long. Why does it happen? Are there times when you should be concerned about it?

Good for your teeth, bad for your bones?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Could an ingredient in toothpaste be harmful to your bones? Triclosan, an antibacterial agent, has been banned from soaps and hand sanitizers by the FDA, and researchers have found that women with the highest levels of triclosan in their urine had low bone density measurements.

Be careful where you get your news about coronavirus

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

New information about the spread of coronavirus is coming at us seemingly every minute from many sources. But how much of this information is trustworthy? And which sources should you believe?