One of the NDB’s many wonderful employees, Janice Anderson, will retire this year. We thought the occasion was a good reason for everyone to meet her.

In her current role at the NDB, Director of Outcomes Assessment, Janice keeps things running smoothly, organizing the thousands of paper and online questionnaires that constantly arrive at the office, and the staff who process them. You may have talked to her if you needed help or had a mix up with your questionnaire.

Janice AndersonJanice started at the NDB after using her biology training as a teacher for 26 years teaching science to students in junior high school up to community college. Her first NDB assignment was intended to be short-term, but now she looks back on more than 19 years in arthritis research.

The changes over the years have been numerous, especially in the growth of the NDB and the technology we use.

Janice explained, “When I arrived, the two or three of us involved did a little bit of everything. We printed and mailed questionnaires, coded each page manually and called participants with questions. Today, mailing, coding and phoning are all done by different people and questionnaires, whether completed on paper or electronically online, are read by people sitting at computers.

Her favorite part of the job is seeing the final reports of projects, whether they described a new relationship, confirmed the existence of a side effect, or acknowledged the safety of a new drug, and knowing that she was part of making that news.

Janice’s retirement plans sound more relaxing, however. “I’ll be moving to an old family home in Nebraska, where I can refurbish the gardens established by my grandmother, read the huge stack of books I always intended to get to someday, and volunteer and travel as opportunities arise,” she said.

Janice often gives exit interviews to NDB study participants who need or want to leave the study. Because NDB data depends on people staying in the study, we wanted to include her best pitch for them to stay in. Her answer contained a short history of arthritis treatment:

We have a group of about 20 participants who have completed questionnaires each 6 months for almost 30 years. They’ve reported to me how their initial treatment was mostly aspirin because there was little else available. Then along came methotrexate and it was the new miracle drug, but the thought of side effects was scary. Now it’s the old standby and a plethora of new drugs for arthritis and fibromyalgia are on the market. These people are proud to have been a part of the history that studied their effectiveness.

Participants coming on board now need to realize they are closer to effective treatment, maybe even a cure, than anyone has ever been before. With thousands of people reporting their experiences, the steps will be taken faster than would be possible without them.

There is a good chance that participants or their family members will have arthritis or fibromyalgia 30 years from now, and wouldn’t they like to spend some time with questionnaires now if they could improve treatment for their loved ones?

We hope you agree that the answer is "Yes."

Janice concluded the interview, explaining that her work at the NDB has been enjoyable and rewarding, and the decision to retire has been difficult. “Working with the researchers and the staff here has been a real pleasure and I’ll continue to watch for news of their efforts.”