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Release: March 9, 2000

UI Health Care specialist to lead online chat on arthritis

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Richard D. Sontheimer, M.D., professor and head of the University of Iowa department of dermatology, will lead an hour-long, online question-and-answer discussion on skin problems in patients with arthritis-related diseases with a nationwide audience from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. (CST) on Friday, March 10.

The online chat will be hosted by and can be accessed by entering through the home page under "Upcoming Events."

Arthritis can occur in males and females of all ages. Almost 40 million people (about one out of every seven people) in America have arthritis of some kind. Skin problems are common in a number of arthritis-related diseases such as lupus erythematosis, which involves skin, joints, muscles and sometimes internal organs, and scleroderma, a systemic disease that involves the skin but may include problems with blood vessels, joints and internal organs.

After receiving his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern) in Dallas, Sontheimer completed his residency training in internal medicine at University of Utah Affiliated Hospitals in Salt Lake City and then returned to UT Southwestern for his residency training in dermatology. He also completed a research fellowship in immunodermatology at UT Southwestern. Sontheimer joined the staff of UI Health Care in the summer of 1998, where he currently heads the Rheumatic Skin Disease Clinic.

Sontheimer has been listed in "Best Doctors in America" (Naifeh & Smith) since its inception in 1992 and was the founding president of the Medical Dermatology Society. His clinical expertise is in skin problems experienced by patients with rheumatic diseases such as lupus erythematosis, dermatomyositis and scleroderma. He is currently a member of the Medical Advisory Council of the Lupus Foundation of America.

A calendar of other upcoming chats by UI Health Care professionals and dialogue from past chats can be accessed by logging on to and clicking on the logo at the bottom of the page.

UI Health Care's partnership with is part of an increasing trend in health care toward enhancing consumer services through the Internet. According to recent statistics compiled by Cyber Dialogue, a New York firm that tracks Internet commerce, there are approximately 22 million World Wide Web users seeking health information over the Internet. Cyber Dialogue projects that number to increase to 33 million over the next year.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.