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 engaged in a mix of patient care, teaching, and research. His practice 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. Having retired from patient care in 2019, Dr. Shmerling now works as a Senior Faculty Editor for Harvard Health Publishing.

Twitter: @RobShmerling


Posts by Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Can gout be prevented?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Gout, a debilitating form of arthritis, is on the rise compared with rates in prior decades. Obesity is probably a significant factor in this increase. Now, a new study suggests that three-quarters of gout cases in men might be completely avoidable by following certain protective health habits.

Good news: Deaths due to HIV are way down

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A new study cites a remarkable decline in deaths due to HIV infection, and dramatically fewer new cases of HIV infection in the US over the past decade. But there is still a long way to go before declaring victory over HIV/AIDS.

Will eating more chilis help you live longer?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A new report suggests eating chili peppers regularly could lower the risk of dying of cancer or cardiovascular disease. One theory attributes such health benefits to capsaicin, an antioxidant that brings the heat. But just how strong are these findings?

Treating neuropathy: Which medication is best?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Millions of people suffer from the burning, tingling, and numbness of a form of neuropathy called idiopathic sensory polyneuropathy. A recent study directly comparing four medications produced disappointing results, but is a step in the right direction.

Masks save lives: Here’s what you need to know

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Early in the pandemic, there was confusion and skepticism about whether wearing masks would be helpful for the general public, but a rapidly expanding body of evidence shows that mask-wearing leads to lower rates of infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Migraine headaches: Could nerve stimulation help?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Millions of people suffer from migraines, and research has been trying to understand what causes them. A current theory involves branches of the trigeminal nerve. Now the FDA has cleared an over-the-counter device to prevent or treat migraine by stimulating this nerve with mild electrical shocks.

Does lupus or arthritis affect your prognosis if you get COVID-19?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

People with certain chronic conditions are at increased risk for severe COVID-19. These include a compromised immune system, which can happen for a number of reasons. Many people with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus take drugs that suppress the immune system, and new research examined the risks associated with such a situation.

It’s still true: Not all the news about COVID-19 is bad

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

We’re more than nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and continue to face new challenges every day. But there are still positive developments in the fight against the virus, which should be recognized.

Aspirin and breast cancer risk: How a wonder drug may become more wonderful

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Over the years, the list of aspirin’s potential benefits has grown: a number of studies suggest that taking aspirin regularly can lower the risk of certain types of cancer. Now recent studies suggest that aspirin may also reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Stopping osteoarthritis: Could recent heart research provide a clue?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Currently no medication can slow the progress of osteoarthritis. And while a reanalysis of a study of people with heart disease suggests a promising approach, more definitive research will be necessary to confirm this.