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The Norwegian Study on Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (NorJIA) is a large, prospective cohort study performed by an interdisciplinary team at UNN and the Clinical Competence Center for Dental Health for Northern Norway (TkNN) in Tromsø, Mid-Norway in Trondheim and Western Norway in Bergen, as well as St Olav University Hospital and Haukeland University Hospital. 

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is a major public health problem, affecting around 1-2 in 1000 children under the age of 16. In 2009 more than 2700 children in Norway and more than 25000 in the UK required aggressive treatment and follow-up to reduce the development of later joint damage. Current classification, based on clinical criteria, is still unsatisfactory as many of the identified subgroups appear too inhomogeneous. Furthermore, it is difficult to distinguish, early in the disease course, between patients who are most likely to develop joint damage, and who therefore require a more aggressive treatment at an early stage, from those who will have a mild disease course. Finally, in clinical trials drug efficacy is judged only on clinical parameters, since measures that can allow the early identification of the progression of joint damage, and therefore of drug efficacy on disease progression, are not available in children.

Since 2006 our research group has established a unique, longitudinal, “JIA-phenobank”, which includes detailed clinical data and standardised radiographs, MRI and ultrasound examination of 330 children with wrist and/or hip JIA from four large paediatric centres in London, Paris, Genoa and Rome (EU FP6 Health-A-Child). We have also established normal standards for MR and radiographs of the wrist (The Tromsø Wrist Cohort; PhDs Ording-Müller 2012 and Avenarius 2017, both UiT).

In 2012 we established a national, interdisciplinary group (PI Prof. Rosendahl, UiT/UNN), inlcuding paediatric radiologists, rheumatologists and dentists from Tromsø (Prof. Ellen Nordal), Trondheim (Prof. Marite Rygg) and Bergen (Prof., dentist, Marit Skeie) to elaborate on normal standards and to establish valid imaging scoring systems for active and chronic disease with a focus on temporo-mandibular joints; the NorJIA study. Currently, there are 9 PhD fellows involved.

Collaborative centers for the EU FP6 funded HeC study: Great Ormond Street Hospital in London (PI’s Prof Rosendahl / Catherine Owens), Genova (PI Prof Alberto Martini), Rome (PI Prof Paolo Toma) and Paris (PI Prof Francis Brunelle).

Additional collaborative groups: OMERACT JIA group (Prof Andrea Doria, Sick Kids Toronto, Prof Mario Maas, AMC Amsterdam).