Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Dr. Shmerling was born in Nashville, TN, and received his B.S. from Tufts University and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School (1983). He completed a medical residency at Beth Israel Hospital (1986) and Rheumatology fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (1989) and General Medicine & Primary Care Fellowship (1989) at Beth Israel Hospital. He’s been on staff at BIDMC since.

Dr. Shmerling enjoys a mix of clinical care, teaching and research. His practice includes challenging patients both in the clinic and inpatient consultation service. His research interests center on diagnostic studies in patients with musculoskeletal symptoms, rheumatic and autoimmune diseases. In addition to frequent presentations to trainees, colleagues and at invited lectures, he has studied diagnostic testing with novel approaches in his research. In a study of anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody, he has compared actual test ordering behavior with results that would follow from adherence to recently published guidelines. He has also assessed the predictive value of commonly ordered tests including synovial fluid analysis, rheumatoid factor, antinuclear antibodies and anti-cyclic citrullinated protein. He has participated as an Investigator in an NIH-sponsored research program entitled “The Course and Consequences of Musculoskeletal Pain in an Older Population.” Most recently, he and colleagues have been compiling a database regarding septic arthritis to assess outcomes with and without surgery, microbiologic profiles of the infections and features of culture-positive vs. culture-negative disease. He has extensive teaching responsibilities within BIDMC and HMS including precepting residents and fellows in the rheumatology practice. As the Robinson Firm Chief since 1998, he is part of the medical residency leadership and plays a key teaching role that includes Attending Rounds, Walk Rounds and leading Firm Conference. In 2011, he helped establish the BIDMC Rheumatology Fellowship Program and served as its first Program Director through 2016. He was member of the American College of Rheumatology’s Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for 6 years, including 3 years as its Chair. He has been fortunate to be able to work in a variety of clinical, teaching and research roles that help him share what he has learned with others.