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Brian Walitt, MD
Medical Director
Fibromyalgia Evaluation and Research Center (FMeRC)
Washington, DC

About Brian T. Walitt, MD, MPH, FACR

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Georgetown University Medical Center
Research Director, Section of Rheumatology

Washington Hospital Center
110 Irving Street, NW
Washington, DC 20010
Office: (202) 877-8535

To participate in research, call Patrice Thompson at (202) 877-0890 or (202) 877-6274.

Dr. Walitt first contacted our support group in the summer of 2008. Since, we hosted two very interesting and provocative lectures by him. We are looking forward to a lecture on CFS/ME in 2012. Several of our members are participating in research with Dr. Walitt.

Brian Walitt is a Rheumatologist at Washington Hospital Center. He is actively involved in both clinical and investigative rheumatology. His research foci include chronic pain disorders and the epidemiology of rheumatic disease. He is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology.

Training and Education

Dr. Walitt completed his medical training at SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1998. He completed a categorical internal medicine residency at The George Washington University Hospital in 2001. He completed a clinical fellowship in rheumatology in 2004 and a research fellowship in rheumatology in 2006 at Washington Hospital Center. He completed a master of public health in epidemiology at The George Washington University in 2006.


Dr. Walitt primarily researches fibromyalgia and the epidemiology of rheumatology. He is considered a national expert on the fibromyalgia syndrome and is an active participant in fibromyalgia research groups such as the National Databank of Rheumatic Disease, OMERACT, and the Cochrane review groups. He has performed several investigator-initiated studies in fibromyalgia using neuroimaging techniques, neuropsychological instruments, gene expression analysis, and cytokine profiles as well as participated in several pharmaceutical trials for the treatment of fibromyalgia.

Dr. Walitt is actively recruiting for his ‘The effects of exercise therapy on brain function in fibromyalgia’ protocol which is funded by an American College of Rheumatology Investigator Award. Also, in September 2001, he opened the Fibromyalgia Evaluation and Research Center (FMeRC) to conduct longitudinal research. He has active research collaborations in the field with research labs at Georgetown, the National Institutes of Health, and the University of North Carolina.

Dr. Walitt also provides oversight for the rheumatology special interest group of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) through a grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). He initially became involved with investigations into the effects of postmenopausal hormone therapy in rheumatic disease, which was funded by an American College of Rheumatology Research and Education Foundation Clinical Investigator Fellowship Award. As part of that project, he conducted a diagnostic validation of rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and osteoarthritis which has enabled investigators nationwide to use the WHI database to answer questions about rheumatic disease. He currently a co-investigator on an ancillary study looking at the relationship between rheumatic serologies, inflammatory cytokines, and health outcomes. His collaborations in the WHI have involved wide-ranging subjects including pesticides, coffee and tea, vitamin D, body morphometry, narcotic medication use, and DEXA.

Honors, Awards and Society Memberships

He is a fellow of the American College of Rheumatology and a member of the American College of Physicians. He has been awarded multiple honors at the local and national level in recognition of his research, including being named a CHORD fellow, a young investigator of the US Bone and Joint Decade, and a Pfizer Pain Scholar.

Meeting Notes 
Dr. Walitt presented "Fibromyalgia 201" in April 2009 to the Loudoun FM & Chronic Pain Support at Lansdown Hospital in Leesburg, VA. Some information presented included:

Modern Fibromyalgia:

– About 4% of women and less than 1% of men in the US
  have the symptoms of fibromyalgia
– Fibromyalgia is as common in rural areas as it is in cities
– Risk factors for fibromyalgia include:
           female gender, increasing age, distress,
           a history of sexual or physical abuse, smoking, and obesity
– Fibromyalgia does not:
         - cause other types of illnesses
         - cause a premature death
– Fibromyalgia causes higher rates of work disability and
           increased health care costs
– The cost of fibromyalgia to society is estimated to be
           12 to 14 billion dollars

So what is a person with FM to do?

1. Establish a relationship with a doctor
2. Learn to accept and adjust to your symptoms
3. Learn to be aware of your mind and body issues
     in order to maximize comfort
4. Use medication rationally to help with symptom management

Pharmacologic therapy in FM should be considered short term*

–To date there are no long-term studies have taken place with any
    medication in FM.
–Tendency to habituate to particular medications.
–Consider drug holidays or cycling of agents.
–Reduce polypharmacy.
–Match the medication to the symptoms.
–Learn to self-adjust dosing.
–Remember that drug therapy is not commonly the final answer
    in FM treatment.

*: Exceptions to this rule are patients with clinical depression or anxiety disorders.

Understand that fibromyalgia is ambiguous

–You may have different ideas about the nature and treatment of
       fibromyalgia than your doctor.
–What is ‘right’ is not what you or your doctors think, but what works.

"What is Fibromyalgia?" was presented to CFSupport / CFSnova at our January 2011 meeting at the Sully Governmental Center in Chantilly, VA. An audio recording of that almost 3 hour event is available to members upon request.


Web Links for Brian Walitt MD, MPH

Dr. Walitt at Work:
  • Washington Hospital Center Faculty Bio
  • 2011: Understanding “Invisible” Disorders
    An unusual “virtual” clinic has been established at Georgetown University Medical Center that has given a home to patients who have what seems like invisible disorders.  5/16/2011, GUMC News
  • Study: Exercise may help memory of Fibromyalgia patients - USA Today
    "However, he noted, some people with the condition can't tolerate exercise. Working out "is not going to be the answer for everybody and it's not going to fix anybody," [Walitt] said.
  • 2013: Drugs to Treat Fibromyalgia Just as Likely to Harm as Help - CFAH
    "The medical field does poorly with the treatment of fibromyalgia in general,"" says Brian Walitt, M.D., M.P.H., a co-author of the review and an expert in pain syndromes at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. "Chasing [a cure] with medicine doesn't seem to work.The people who seem to me to do best sort of figure it out on their own by thinking about things, getting to know themselves, and making changes in their lives to accommodate who they've become," concludes Walitt.
  • 2013: Painful Debate Over Fibromyalgia - everyday Health
    Some doctors are calling for a reclassification of fibromyalgia, switching it from a "categorical illness" to a "symptom disorder." The change could potentially impact the diagnostic procedure.
    "It doesn't matter what the cause is - it's the suffering that matters," Walitt adds. "That's what should drive the funding."

Webpages mentioning Dr. Walitt or his work:
Research Articles, Presentations, Comment by Brian Walitt, MD

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Updated July 2, 2013