Panlar Science

PANLAR Innovation Award: Fostering Advances in Rheumatology

By : Laura Lozano
Periodista Científica Global Rheumatology

22 September, 2023
Cite as:
Lozano L. PANLAR Innovation Award: Fostering Advances in Rheumatology. Global Rheumatology. Vol 4/ Jul - Dic [2023] Available from: 

"Rheumatology, a constantly evolving specialty, faces significant challenges in addressing rheumatic diseases. In this context, the PANLAR Innovation Award stands out as an annual recognition that values and promotes the generation of innovative knowledge and advancements in rheumatology. This award fosters collaboration among professionals, inspires young researchers, and addresses financial and training challenges in the field, thereby contributing to the improvement of care for patients with rheumatic diseases."

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E- ISSN: 2709-5533
Vol 4 / Jul - Dic [2023]

Panlar Science 

PANLAR Innovation Award: Fostering Advances in Rheumatology

Autor: Laura Lozano. Scientific Journalist Global Rheumatology,


Cite: Lozano L. PANLAR Innovation Award: Fostering Advances in Rheumatology. Global Rheumatology. Vol 4/ Jul - Dic [2023] Available from: 

Received date: August 15
Accepted date: August 14
Published Date: September 22

In 2016, the Pan-American League of Associations of Rheumatology (PANLAR) instituted the PANLAR Innovation Award with the primary goal of promoting the generation of innovative knowledge and significant advancements in the field of rheumatology (1) . In this article, we will explore how this award encourages collaboration, stimulates young researchers, and addresses challenges in rheumatological research.

The PANLAR Award is an annual recognition given to specialists who have proposed or created innovative and transformative projects with a unique focus in the field of rheumatology, promoting continuous and innovative updates in this discipline. This encompasses clinical research, medical diagnostics, technological developments, improvements in patient care and quality of life, as well as the implementation of new strategies in the management of rheumatic diseases, always with the central goal of benefiting patients.

The creation of this award was based on the need to recognize innovation as a fundamental element in PANLAR's culture. This association stands out as the first and only to institute an award specifically dedicated to innovation. The PANLAR Award was established as an integral part of PANLAR's strategic development plan in 2016, with the intention of fostering an institutional culture oriented towards change and innovation.

The primary purpose of these awards is to recognize and reward those who have dedicated years of effort to make a significant difference in the field of rheumatology, highlighting research actions and motivating professionals to delve into the generation of precise treatments to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and personalized care of patients in the region.

Since rheumatology is a constantly evolving specialty, it is essential that it offers innovative treatments and solutions. From its inception to the present day, the PANLAR Innovation Award has strived to provide a platform to showcase and share projects with the entire Pan-American medical community. This fundamental belief facilitates the dissemination of knowledge, the exchange of ideas, and promotes proposals that demonstrate how thinking innovatively is the best choice for refining work and improving the quality of life of patients.

Fostering Research and Collaboration

PANLAR recognizes the power of research and, for this reason, promotes clinical, epidemiological, and basic research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases. By supporting emerging researchers, it provides recognition through awards such as the innovation award, grants, and training opportunities for those who apply year after year.

The PANLAR awards not only seek to recognize innovative researchers but also aim to foster the creation of networks of professionals who share their experiences and discoveries with the community. This translates into a better understanding of rheumatic diseases and more effective medical care.

For Yimi Medina, the winner of the PANLAR Innovation Award in 2019, receiving this recognition was a unique experience. The award highlighted his work and dedication, providing deep satisfaction both personally and professionally.

The organization strives to disseminate knowledge and scientific advances in the field of rheumatology through the planning of events such as congresses, symposia, publications, and educational activities. In these spaces, awardees have the opportunity to present their findings, further enriching shared knowledge in the medical community.

These events are aimed at professionals from across the Pan-American region who significantly contribute to a better understanding of rheumatic diseases in the medical community and among the general public. This promotes the participation of emerging researchers, fostering collaboration and the exchange of knowledge, fundamental aspects of Pan-American Rheumatology."

Stimulating the New Generation

The PANLAR Innovation Award is granted to those who have demonstrated an innovative and transformative approach in various areas, including clinical research, technological advancements, medical education, patient care models, among others.

One of the most outstanding achievements of this recognition lies in its ability to inspire the next generation of researchers in rheumatology. Awardees gain access to scholarships, training, and various collaboration opportunities that stimulate their careers and expose them to the highest standards of excellence.

For this reason, the selection process for the award involves the nomination of projects or works that are evaluated based on their originality, creativity, and the solution they offer to relevant challenges.

To select the winners, nominations must first be submitted through direct nomination or by other members of the association. Then, an initial evaluation is conducted, with a selection committee responsible for assessing the innovation, impact, originality, and relevance of the projects or works submitted. The winners are publicly recognized at the annual PANLAR Congress, in a dedicated space to acknowledge their contribution to the field of rheumatology.

According to the experience of Dr. Yimi Medina, "applying for this recognition opens up possibilities to explore different approaches and stimulates research. Furthermore, upon receiving the award, it facilitates the execution of the proposed project and encourages exploration of new research fields related to the topic."

In this way, the PANLAR Innovation Award contributes to ensuring the continuity of research in rheumatology and addresses current and future challenges."

Beneficiaries of the Award

The Award has benefited various researchers, including Dr. Yimi Medina, the winner in 2019, who standardized the examination of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. There is also the case of Dr. César Graf, the winner in 2020, who designed 3D support products for patients with rheumatic diseases and has continued to provide support to those in need. Finally, we have the experience of Dr. Gerardo Quintana, the winner in 2022, who developed an artificial intelligence application to interpret the radiographic index in rheumatoid arthritis.

In the case of Dr. Medina, there was no standardized method for examining patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This resulted in many academic settings, programs, or rheumatology services not formally teaching techniques for examining the joints of RA patients.

Faced with this need, Dr. Medina conducted research that involved "a process to identify joint examination techniques in the literature, establish important elements for performing the techniques, and then make consensus definitions to determine the techniques,"(2) as explained by the specialist.

Thanks to Dr. Medina's innovative research, it is now possible to identify affected joints and the disease activity status. "This allows for the most appropriate treatment to be given for the patient's condition. Moreover, it is a defined and standardized method for undergraduate and postgraduate students, which has improved joint assessment," he added.

On the other hand, the greatest beneficiaries of Dr. César Graf's innovative advancement are his own patients. As he recounted, "more than a thousand patients have received our 3D devices, either through our laboratory, our foundation, or through public schools and universities that have integrated our devices into their educational programs in different provinces of Argentina."

Dr. Graf's research focused on creating support products to enhance the autonomy and independence of patients with rheumatic diseases that limit hand mobility.

"With the funding from the grant, we were able to acquire two machines to manufacture the five planned devices. We designed them, printed them, and validated them with different occupational therapists in the country. Once they were approved by them, we produced the first series of devices that were delivered to patients."

To date, Dr. Graf has trained several public schools in more than 14 Argentine provinces, where students have learned to produce the 3D devices using provided print files and corresponding training. This has resulted in the printing of more than 4,000 devices by public schools (3).

This experience demonstrates that innovation in rheumatology seeks to recognize researchers, but, above all, aims to improve the quality of life of patients.

Finally, we have the case of Dr. Quintana, who designed an artificial intelligence application "to interpret the radiographic index in rheumatoid arthritis and compare it with the assessment made by the human eye to validate concordance and correlation," as he explained.

His proposal is still in development, but thanks to the financial support of the award, he is training postgraduate students to, in turn, instruct the engineering component and advance the proposal.

For those who have been awarded, this award is not only a recognition of their idea and academic trajectory but also an opportunity to continue enhancing their knowledge. Below, we present a table of winners by country and project (Table 1).

Promoting Excellence and Motivation

The PANLAR Innovation Award has served as a significant motivator for young researchers in the field of rheumatology. It acts as an incentive to achieve excellence, as, in addition to recognition, the award opens doors to professional development opportunities such as scholarships, training, collaborations, and partnerships.

Recipients of the PANLAR Innovation Award benefit from greater visibility at high-level events and conferences, such as the annual PANLAR Congress. This not only enriches their own careers but also fosters collaboration and networking among professionals in the field.

Dr. Gerardo Quintana, the winner of the award in 2022, shares his enthusiasm for the PANLAR 2024 Congress in Barranquilla, Colombia, as he believes these events are essential for presenting advances in work and benefiting the new generations of colleagues, with the aim of improving Pan-American rheumatological practice.


The challenges in rheumatological research are numerous and significant. The lack of financial resources and opportunities limits the ability to conduct high-quality studies, which, in turn, hinders progress in this field. Additionally, the training of new specialists in rheumatology is threatened by the shortage of resources and training opportunities, further restricting research in this area.

Another fundamental challenge lies in the effective implementation of new clinical therapies. The lack of dissemination and adoption of evidence-based clinical guidelines can delay the improvement of patient care and hinder access to these therapies.

The PANLAR Innovation Award aims to address these challenges by stimulating research, promoting collaboration, and supporting the growth of scientific careers. These efforts contribute to overcoming financial and training barriers, paving the way for faster advancement in the field of rheumatology and ultimately improving the care and access to innovative treatments for patients.


The PANLAR Innovation Award highlights the importance of the relationship between learning and innovation in the field of rheumatology. Its main foundation is the promotion of collaboration and the exchange of knowledge among professionals in this medical specialty.

PANLAR is one of the pioneering institutions in recognizing innovation as an engine of excellence in the rheumatological field. Through these annual recognitions, an environment conducive to fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange is created, driving progress in this field and addressing common challenges for the benefit of the medical community and, more importantly, patients.

By supporting research, promoting collaboration, and stimulating innovation, the award reinforces PANLAR's commitment to advancing knowledge, diagnosis, and treatment of rheumatic diseases. These efforts help overcome financial and training obstacles, paving the way for a better understanding and treatment of these medical conditions, ultimately improving the quality of life for those suffering from rheumatic diseases.

Table 1

Winners of the PANLAR Innovation Award








Massive Online Course (MOOC) on the appropriate use of basic diagnostic imaging in rheumatology for Ibero-American non-rheumatologist physicians


EDUMEDICA. Dr. Rafael Valle


Rheumatology Training Program for Nursing Professionals


Genesis Maldonado and Carlos Ríos Acosta


Interactive application for various mobile devices


Sergio Mora and Daniel Fernández


Educational intervention based on virtual reality and augmented virtual reality for early diagnosis and timely referral of patients with joint pain and clinical suspicion of rheumatoid arthritis or spondyloarthritis in Colombia


Yimy Medina


Unified and standardized joint physical examination method for incorporation into clinimetry and determination of rheumatoid arthritis activity in PANLAR countries


Cesar Graf


3D printing of devices to improve the lives of patients with rheumatic diseases


Carlos Pineda


Viscosupplementation With Medical-grade Honey: An Innovative Approach For Knee Osteoarthritis.


Gerardo Quintana


Radiographic remission, Fractal geometry and Artificial Intelligence in Rheumatoid Arthritis: RaFAI-RA


Ilka Lineburger


RHEUPP - A Rheumatological Follow-up Management APP





  1. Caballero-Uribe, Carlo V. (n.d.). Es la Innovación. Retrieved from
  2. Medina, YF., Ruiz, AJ., Rondon, MA. (2023). A Standardized Physical Examination Method for Joints to Determine Rheumatoid Arthritis Activity Using the Modified RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method. J Multidiscip Healthc, 16, 1287-1299. doi: 10.2147/JMDH.S397038
  3. La tecnología como herramienta para mejorar la calidad de vida – Facultad de Ciencias de la Vida y la Salud. Retrieved from


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