Department of Rheumatology
Department of Rheumatology

The Department of rheumatology in Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hospital was founded in 2001. Leading by Prof. Dai Lie, it has developed into one of the most important center for rheumatic and autoimmune diseases in South China. Our department is the Guangdong Provincial High-level Key Clinical Specialty and the Best Department in Guangdong Province. Since 2015, our department has been continuously ranked as the fourth of the top rheumatology departments in south China according to the Hospital Management Institute of  Fudan University. It is a national center of clinical trial where we have finished many international or domestic multi-center clinical trials of original or generic drugs.

The department owns in-patient’s ward of 34 beds, rheumatology clinic for outpatients (including chronic disease management clinic, specific disease clinic such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, lupus, gout, Sjögren’s syndrome, etc.), therapeutic center for patients with rheumatic diseases, follow-up center for patients with rheumatic diseases, and rheumatology laboratory. There are 34 staffs in our department, including 13 rheumatologists (1 professor and chief physician, 2 associate chief physicians, 2 attending physicians and 2 assistant scientists), 14 nurses (3 supervisor nurses and 1 nurse specialist), 3 technicians (1 supervisor technician), 1 chronic disease manager, 1 rehabilitation physiotherapist, and 2 clinical assistants.

Featured Medical Technology

Comprehensive diagnosis system for various arthropathies: Our department firstly applied Parker-Pearson needle biopsy of synovium for histological synovitis assessment and firstly applied crystal analysis of synovial fluid for diagnosis of crystal arthritis in China since 2006. Combined with the newest musculoskeletal ultrasound, MRI or dual-energy CT examinations, we have set up a compre0hensive system for early diagnosis of various arthropathies, including the clinical, laboratorial, imagological and histopathologic assessments. We also promoted Chinese experience of the risk prediction and prevention strategy for hepatitis B virus reactivation in patients with arthropathies.
Chronic rheumatic diseases management: Our department has organized a chronic disease management team (including rheumatologists, nurses, rehabilitation physiotherapist, chronic disease manager and clinical assistants), therapeutic center and follow-up center for patients with rheumatic diseases, and established chronic disease management clinic by the team. With the application of the big data from internet, the management team connects patients on line or off line for guidance and support, and developed a novel system of chronic disease management with integrated and extended medical pattern of doctors, nurses and patients.
Diagnosis and treatment of rare and refractory rheumatic diseases: Sun Yat-Sen Memorial hospital is the member of the collaboration network for rare diseases by National Health Commission of the People’s Republic China. As one of the important components of the center, our department has successively diagnosed and treated many patients with various rare diseases, including systemic sclerosis, IgG4 related diseases, relapsing poly-chondritis, eosinophilic granulomatous poly-vasculitis (EGPA), SAPHO syndrome, PAPA syndrome, kimura disease, POEMS syndrome, Erdheim-Chester disease, primary mixed cryoglobulinemia, glycogen storage disease, maturity-onset diabetes mellitus of the young (MODY), type 5 and etc.
Rescue of severe patients: As the Guangdong Provincial High-level Key Clinical Specialty, our department undertakes the task of diagnosis and treatment for patients with severe rheumatic diseases. By using hemo-ultrafiltration, plasmapheresis, immunoadsorption, and stem cell transplantation, we have successfully rescued many patients with lupus crisis, dermatomyositis associated rapidly progressive interstitial lung disease, macrophage activation syndrome, renal crisis of scleroderma, and etc.
Novel techniques for diagnosis and treatment. Our department has developed various novel techniques for diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases, such as intra-articular injection at different joints, pain point injection, botulinum neurotoxin type A injection, physical therapies, rehabilitation training and so on. Rheumatology laboratory set up detection of new autoantibodies, crystal analysis of synovial fluid, T-SPOT for tuberculosis screening, etc.

Scientific Research Results

Our department has undertaken various teaching tasks ranging from education for undergraduate and graduate students, standardized training for residents and general practitioners, specialist training for rheumatologists and advanced students to post-graduation continuing education. Teaching content contains diagnostics, internal medicine, and theory of rheumatology. The teaching subjects include students of probation, internship, clinical and scientific research training. In our department, there are more than 500 students under education every year, and teachers achieved good scores in the teaching competition of university and hospital.
Besides keeping the glorious teaching tradition of “three basic and three strictness”, our department keep constantly innovation in response to the new requirements of national and social development for medical education. Applications of problem-based learning (PBL), team-based learning (TBL), TBL practical training based on real cases, combination of flipped classroom and TBL have been performed on early education of medical theoretical teaching, training of probation and internship. Prof. Dai and her team have developed a series of network courses of rheumatoid arthritis on Blackboard platform, established a repository and a series of micro-lectures, and constructed a complete platform for extracurricular learning. All these practices are important components of the educational achievement Practice and effectiveness of TBL on medical education, and Prof. Dai was granted the second prize of National Award for Higher Education Teaching as well as first prizes in Guangdong province and Sun Yat-Sen University as the third member.
For scientific research, our department mainly focuses on the clinical and basic researches on rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Sjögren's syndrome and gout. We have set up the largest prospective cohort of RA patients in China, and established a comprehensive system of disease assessment and prognostic prediction. We focused researches on the regulatory mechanisms of immunometabolism in osteoclasts and the aggressive phenotype of fibroblast-like synoviocytes in RA. Combined with stomatology, ultrasound, ophthalmology and pathology, we applied AI techniques and set up a clinical multidisciplinary platform of standardized diagnosis and treatment for Sjögren's syndrome. Prof. Dai led the development of specialist consensuses on off-label uses of anti-rheumatic drugs in the treatment of RA, systemic lupus erythematosus and ankylosing spondylitis. She is also the first to introduce diet therapy in gout in China, and participated in the development of Chinese guideline for the management of gout in 2016 and Chinese multi-disciplinary consensus on the diagnosis and treatment of hyperuricemia and its related diseases in 2017. Up to now, our department has acquired 11 projects of National Natural Science Foundation of China, 12 projects of Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province, 7 projects of Guangdong Medical Scientific Research Foundation, 2 projects of Scientific Program of Traditional Chinese Medicine Bureau of Guangdong Province, 2 projects of Science and Technology Program of Guangzhou, 2 projects of Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities. There are 4 rheumatologists acquiring Yat-Sen Scholarship for Young Scientist. Totally, our department has published 58 papers published in international journals including 29 articles as first author or corresponding author (IF>10: 2 papers, IF>5: 13 papers). It has also published 176 articles in local Chinese journals.

Expert Team
chief physician
Doctoral Supervisor