Do a google search for “turmeric” and Janet Funk, MD’s name and you’ll come up with nearly 16,000 hits stretching back to 2006. On google scholar, you’ll find 30 more, including the paper, “Site-Specific Deglucuronidation of Turmeric-Derived Curcuminoids in Bone,” published in the April 2016 issue of The FASEB Journal.
Dr. Funk’s research into the Indian spice focuses on its potential as an integrative medical remedy for symptoms related to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and, separately, how breast cancer treatment affects bone loss. In December, UA News reported the start of clinical trials on her turmeric research related to RA. In July, it reported about a grad student on Dr. Funk’s research team, Laura Hopkins (pictured below left with Dr. Funk), with RA whose affliction fuels her participation in the research—click here to read more about her story—albeit not as a study subject.
If you watched Friday evening’s KOLD-TV 13 news broadcast, Aug. 11, you saw a report on the Dr. Funk, Hopkins and others on her team, including medical students Chelsea Alfafara (MS-2 - at left on right) and Janel DeSalvo (MS-3 - pictured far right), are working to verify their hypotheses on turmeric’s benefits in arthritis treatment.
DeSalvo worked on the ClaRA project—an acronym for the clinical trial based on turmeric’s botanical name (Curcuma longa L in Rheumatoid Arthritis)—last year as a second-year, including spending time sahdowing a rheumatoligist in the community, and this summer before she took her boards. Even though she just started her third-year clerkship, she continues to help recruit for the study, Funk said.
Alfafara, who worked on the project all summer, is a participant in the Medical Student Research Program (MSRP) at the UA College of Medicine - Tucson and and will be continuing on the same project as part of the Research Distinction Track.
In the KOLD-TV report, reporter Barbara Grijalva notes that RA patients take powerful drugs—some with serious side effects—to control the painful inflammation of arthritis. She noted Dr. Funk and her team hope turmeric allows patients to reduce the need for those medications.
If you are an RA patient or know someone who might benefit and would like to contribute to that effort, please click here.
If you'd like more information, or to see if you qualify, call 520-626-4744 or click here.