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DIR Researcher Profile: Dr. Brian Walitt

Brian Walitt, MD, MPH

Brian WalittMedical Officer
Symptom Management Branch
Division of Intramural Research
Building 10, Room 2-1341
10 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892


Research Topics

Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. Fatigue is likewise a common complaint, with an estimated prevalence in the general U.S. population between 6.0 and 7.5 percent. Adverse symptoms such as pain and fatigue can complicate the treatment of medical conditions, as seen with chemotherapy-related fatigue, or can occur without any clear cause, as seen with fibromyalgia. Such symptoms can persist over the course of a person’s lifetime, leading to suffering, vocational disability, economic loss, and increased use of health care resources.

Dr. Brian Walitt’s research seeks to better define the nature of chronic symptoms. His expertise in epidemiology allows for the characterization of symptom disorders and their impact on society. He also has experience with a variety of scientific methods, including psychophysical testing, patient-related outcome measurement, functional magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, and genetic and gene expression analysis, which are used to better elucidate the physiology of symptoms.

As NINR’s Medical Officer, Dr. Walitt collaborates with the scientists in the Division of Intramural Research in their efforts to understand the biological mechanisms for a wide array of symptoms, including their effects on patients and how patients respond to interventions. Increasing scientific understanding of the nature of symptoms will provide these individuals and their families with more clarity about their symptoms and potentially translate into meaningful interventions.


Dr. Walitt obtained his medical doctorate from the State University of New York at Syracuse (Upstate) Medical School. He completed his Internal Medicine residency training at George Washington University Hospital and his Rheumatology fellowship training at the MedStar Health Washington Hospital Center. He also received a Masters of Public Heath from George Washington University with a concentration in epidemiology and is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor at Georgetown University.

Dr. Walitt has worked in academic medicine since the beginning of his career and has received many awards and accolades for his work. He was awarded several extramural grants prior to working at NIH, including both the American College of Rheumatology Young Investigator and Investigator awards. He is internationally known for his clinical and research work with fibromyalgia patients. He is current lead associate investigator on the National Institutes of Health Myalgic Encephalitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome protocol:

Selected Publications

  1. Wolfe F, Clauw DJ, Fitzcharles MA, Goldenberg DL, Häuser W, Katz RL, Mease PJ, Russell AS, Russell IJ, Walitt B. 2016 Revisions to the 2010/2011 fibromyalgia diagnostic criteria. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2016 Dec;46(3):319-329
  2. Walitt B, Katz RS, Bergman MJ, Wolfe F. Three-quarters of persons in the us population reporting a clinical diagnosis of fibromyalgia do not satisfy fibromyalgia criteria: The 2012 National Health Interview Survey. PLoS One. 2016 Jun 9;11(6):e0157235. PMID: 27281286
  3. Walitt B, Ceko M, Gracely JL, Gracely RH. Neuroimaging of central sensitivity syndromes: key insights from the scientific literature. Curr Rheumatol Rev. 2016;12(1):55-87. PMID: 26717948
  4. Walitt B, Čeko M, Khatiwada M, Gracely JL, Rayhan R, VanMeter JW, Gracely RH. Characterizing "fibrofog": Subjective appraisal, objective performance, and task-related brain activity during a working memory task. Neuroimage Clin. 2016 Feb 2;11:173-80. PMID: 26955513
  5. Walitt B, Nahin RL, Katz RS, Bergman MJ, Wolfe F. The prevalence and characteristics of fibromyalgia in the 2012 National Health Interview Survey. PLoS One. 2015 Sep 17;10(9):e0138024. PMID: 26379048
  6. Häuser W, Ablin J, Fitzcharles MA, Littlejohn G, Luciano JV, Usui C, Walitt B. Fibromyalgia. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2015 Aug 13;1:15022. PMID: 27189527
  7. Wolfe F, Michaud K, Busch RE, Katz RS, Rasker JJ, Shahouri SH, Shaver TS, Wang S, Walitt BT, Häuser W. Polysymptomatic distress in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: understanding disproportionate response and its spectrum. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2014 Oct;66(10):1465-71. PMID: 24497433
  8. Kuller LH, Mackey RH, Walitt BT, Deane KD, Holers VM, Robinson WH, Sokolove J, Chang Y, Liu S, Parks CG, Wright NC, Moreland LW. Determinants of mortality among postmenopausal women in the women's health initiative who report rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2014 Mar;66(3):497-507. PMID: 24574208
  9. Häuser W, Walitt B, Fitzcharles MA, Sommer C. Review of pharmacological therapies in fibromyalgia syndrome. Arthritis Res Ther. 2014 Jan 17;16(1):201. PMID: 24433463
  10. Wolfe F, Walitt B. Culture, science and the changing nature of fibromyalgia. Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2013 Dec;9(12):751-5. PMID: 23820862
  11. Walitt B, Mackey R, Kuller L, Deane KD, Robinson W, Holers VM, Chang YF, Moreland L. Predictive value of autoantibody testing for validating self-reported diagnoses of rheumatoid arthritis in the Women's Health Initiative. Am J Epidemiol. 2013 May 1;177(9):887-93. PMID: 23492764
  12. Wolfe F, Walitt BT, Katz RS, Lee YC, Michaud KD, Häuser W. Longitudinal patterns of analgesic and central acting drug use and associated effectiveness in fibromyalgia. Eur J Pain. 2013 Apr;17(4):581-6. PMID: 23169685
  13. Walitt B, Fitzcharles MA, Hassett AL, Katz RS, Häuser W, Wolfe F. The longitudinal outcome of fibromyalgia: a study of 1555 patients. J Rheumatol. 2011 Oct;38(10):2238-46. PMID: 21765102
  14. Wolfe F, Hassett AL, Walitt B, Michaud K. Mortality in fibromyalgia: a study of 8,186 patients over thirty-five years. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2011 Jan;63(1):94-101. PMID: 20662040
  15. Walitt B, Pettinger M, Weinstein A, Katz J, Torner J, Wasko MC, Howard BV, Women's Health Initiative Investigators. Effects of postmenopausal hormone therapy on rheumatoid arthritis: the women’s health initiative randomized controlled trials. Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Mar 15;59(3):302-10. PMID: 18311749

 For Dr. Walitt's full bibliography, please visit PubMed.

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