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Release: May 4, 2000

UI Health Care specialist to lead online chat on arthritis

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Robert F. Ashman, M.D., University of Iowa professor of internal medicine and director of the department's rheumatology division, will lead an hour-long, online question-and-answer discussion on arthritis with a nationwide audience from 2 to 3 p.m. Friday, May 5.

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. About 37 million, or about one in seven, Americans have arthritis of some kind. Arthritis, or joint inflammation, which causes redness, swelling, pain and sometimes loss of motion, is a body's normal reaction to damage or the presence of a foreign agent in that area. Altogether, there are more than 100 kinds of arthritis and many different diseases that can cause it. Autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are diseases in which something goes wrong with the immune system and it attacks healthy parts of the body.

After receiving his medical degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York, Ashman completed a residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Ashman also completed fellowships in rheumatology at UCLA, in arthritis at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and in immunology at the National Institute for Medical Research in London, England. He joined the UI faculty in 1980.

Ashman is board-certified in medicine and rheumatology. He has been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (a national research honorary society) and the Association of American Physicians (an honorary society for medical school faculty). He chairs the Immunology Medical Research Advisory Group for the Veterans Administration. His clinical expertise is in arthritis and autoimmune disease.

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.