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

Is tramadol a risky pain medication?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Tramadol is a unique prescription pain medicine similar to opioids. Research finds people taking it had a higher risk of dying than those taking other pain medicines. But a confounding factor may make tramadol seem more risky than it really is.

FDA curbs unfounded memory supplement claims

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Considering memory supplements? Think again. In the US, prescription medicines are rigorously tested, but supplements are not and manufacturers can make claims that may or may not be true. But even supplement makers must follow certain rules, and recently the FDA announced a plan to revamp its regulation of dietary supplements.

Beer before wine? Wine before beer?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Ever wonder whether order matters if you switch between drinking wine and beer? Well, researchers asked this question. The answer may surprise you (or not).

The latest deadly superbug — and why it’s not time to panic

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Infections from a drug-resistant fungus have been occuring around the world for the past decade. It’s not cause for panic, but it’s wise to understand the facts and ways to protect yourself.

The trouble with new drugs

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Although drugs have to pass clinical trials before being approved, sometimes side effects do not become apparent until a wider population has used them. The FDA monitors medications after they are available to the public, and issues alerts and warnings when appropriate.

Is obesity a reason to avoid joint replacement surgery?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Overweight people are often turned down for joint replacement surgery, or told to lose a lot of weight first. But a new study found that having obesity should not be a deterrent to having joint surgery.

Why the wheelchair? Could it be gout?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Though only a small percentage of the population has gout, that number is on the rise. While dietary choices have long been believed to be a major cause of gout, a new study found that genetic factors matter much more.

How long does a joint replacement last?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A person considering a knee or hip replacement needs to weigh how long the new joint will last as part of the decision-making process. Analyses of hundreds of thousands of hip and knee replacements show encouraging results for those facing this decision.

Can vaping help you quit smoking?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

While the long-term health consequences of using e-cigarettes are still unknown, a study comparing vaping with nicotine replacement therapy found that it may be useful as a tool to help some smokers quit.

Sweeteners: Time to rethink your choices?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Non-sugar sweeteners are popular, but there have been questions about their safety, so are they worth it? Researchers examined dozens of studies to assess the risks and benefits of various sweeteners available.