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.


Posts by Robert H. Shmerling, MD

And now for some good news on health

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Good news on health –– which seems hard to come by right now –– includes declines in the rates of six out of 10 major causes of death in the United States.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: An arthritis ad in 4 parts

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

An ad for the rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira is accurate about how the medication can help some people be more active, but as with most drug ads, there are also things left unsaid or expressed in ways worth questioning.

More sexual partners, more cancer?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A study of older adults found that those who had had more sexual partners were more likely to have developed cancer, but that does not mean there is a causal connection, and there are many ways that sexual behavior can affect cancer risk.

As the pandemic drags on, when can we get back to work?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, many people wonder when they can go back to their workplaces. The answers may depend on where a person lives and works, findings from antibody tests, and other factors.

Knee arthroscopy: Should this common knee surgery be performed less often?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

There is already evidence that knee arthroscopy for osteoarthritis does not help most people. A study attempted to determine if the results would be better for people with osteoarthritis and a torn meniscus.

Does CBD help with arthritis pain?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

If you have chronic arthritis pain, you may have been tempted to try cannabidiol as a treatment, or you may have tried it already. But is there any evidence that it works? Studies are finally addressing this question, and the results are just starting to come in.

What’s it like to be a healthcare worker in a pandemic?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Millions of healthcare workers on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus have a much higher risk of becoming infected, and are being put in further danger due to shortages of protective equipment, but they continue to do their jobs while adapting to current conditions.

Lifestyle changes are important even if you take medications

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

People who are prescribed medication for high cholesterol or high blood pressure may be more likely to gain weight and less likely to exercise, but for those who are on such medications, it’s even more important to commit to making healthier lifestyle choices.

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

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior 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

Senior 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.