Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Robert Shmerling, M.D., is associate physician and clinical chief of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an associate professor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is an active teacher in the Internal Medicine Residency Program, serving as the Robinson Firm Chief. He is also a teacher in the Rheumatology Fellowship Program and has been a practicing rheumatologist for over 25 years.


Posts by Robert H. Shmerling, MD

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.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: What you should know about direct-to-consumer ads

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Direct-to-consumer advertising for health treatments pops up everywhere, yet the information shared is often incomplete, confusing, or biased. Our new Ad Watch series will help you understand adspeak and when to be wary.

Can vaping damage your lungs? What we do (and don’t) know

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Reports of severe lung illness experienced by hundreds of people who were using e-cigarettes again raise questions about the safety of vaping. While evidence suggests vaping can help some people stop smoking, potential health risks likely outweigh any benefit.

Do employee wellness programs actually work?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Do employee health programs lead to healthier, more productive employees? A large study shows little or no impact, although results might vary based on workplace, offerings, and other factors.

Are antibacterial products with triclosan fueling bacterial resistance?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The FDA has banned the antibacterial agent triclosan from soaps starting in 2020. It’s still used in mouthwash, cosmetics, toothpaste and other household products and there are still concerns that striving to rid our environment of bacteria and germs helps fuel bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

Should you see a chiropractor for low back pain?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Nearly everyone has experienced some sort of back pain, but unfortunately there is no single best treatment for it. Researchers seeking to evaluate the worth of chiropractic care as an option for back pain treatment studied military personnel, but the study did have some limitations.