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Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology

July 11, 2023

Richard Bucala, MD, PhD, section chief

Christina Price, MD, clinical chief (allergy & immunology)

Vaidehi Chowdhary, MBBS, MD, clinical chief (rheumatology)

Yale Rheumatology and the American College of Rheumatology

Deborah Dyett Desir, MD, was sworn in as the American College of Rheumatology’s president-elect in November 2022. She is one of only a handful of women to hold that position and the first woman of color to hold it. Among the issues Desir plans to address as ACR president is the shortage of rheumatologists in the United States to care for both children and adults with rheumatic diseases. Desir

plans to expand the ACR’s efforts to develop innovative solutions for expanding the workforce, and to increase and diversify ACR membership so that the demographics of ACR’s membership reflect those of the patient population.

Evelyn Hsieh, MD, PhD, served as co-chair of the ACR’s strategic planning task force. Hsieh and her colleagues introduced the ACR’s 2022–2027 strategic plan in May 2022. The plan’s three main areas of focus are: innovations in rheumatology; nurturing an inclusive culture; and expanding the rheumatology workforce.

Lisa Suter, MD, is co-chair of the ACR’s Quality Measurement Subcommittee. Suter collaborated with the ACR in 2022 to improve patient care and advance the subspecialty of rheumatology by joining the ACR’s Rheumatology Informatics System for Effectiveness (RISE) national registry. RISE is “the first and largest electronic-health-record-enabled rheumatology registry in the United States,” helping clinicians and health care providers optimize patient outcomes and make significant research discoveries. Eugenia Chock, MD, MPH, assisted Suter.

Allergy and Immunology

Allergy and immunology successfully recruited new faculty members, including Elise Liu, MD, PhD, and Jake Kuster, MD, who have completed their clinical and research training in the section’s fellowship program. Liu has investigated the immune mechanisms of food allergies using animal models and human samples. Kuster has a keen interest in studying genetics in primary immunodeficiencies.

In addition, Jason Kwah, MD, MSc, furthered his research program in drug allergies, which serves as an important educational and research platform for allergy and immunology fellows. Junghee Jenny Shin, MD, PhD, and Insoo Kang, MD, director of allergy and immunology, have reported clinical and immunological predictors of poor immune responses to COVID‑19 mRNA vaccines in patients with primary antibody deficiency, in collaboration with other members of the section.

Hsiao Receives Rheumatology Research Foundation’s Innovative Research Grant

Betty Hsiao, MD, received the national award for her proposal, “Overcoming Barriers to Treat-to-Target in Rheumatoid Arthritis Using Tailored Patient Videos.” Hsiao plans to further her research into the discrepancies between how rheumatologists and their patients think about rheumatoid arthritis treatment, specifically “treat-to-target,” which has low uptake in the United States. To address this hesitancy, Hsiao seeks to learn how to implement videos of people with rheumatoid arthritis sharing

their treatment experiences with other patients who are unsure about initiating or escalating medication use. The videos were developed in a previous study.

Yale Rheumatology/Dermatology Clinic

Diversifying clinical trials for people with rheumatic and dermatologic diseases is a goal of the faculty leaders of Yale School of Medicine’s rheumatology/dermatology clinic. Rheumatologist Fotios Koumpouras, MD, and dermatologist Sarika Ramachandran, MD, are the clinic’s cofounders.

Koumpouras is also the director of the Lupus Program at Yale School of Medicine, overseeing clinical and translational research. The clinic was the first of its kind in Connecticut when it began five years ago. Hundreds of patients have been treated for skin disease due to such systemic disorders as lupus, which selectively affects people of color.

Yale Scleroderma Program

Six clinical trials for people with scleroderma, a rare connective tissue disease also known as systemic sclerosis, are taking place at Yale. Monique Hinchcliff, MD, MS, a national scleroderma expert, is the director of Yale Medicine’s scleroderma program. Yale was designated as a Scleroderma Center of Excellence by the Scleroderma Foundation in 2019.

Yale Rheumatology International State-of-the-Art Symposium

The 2023 symposium, “Do No Harm: Risk Mitigation in Rheumatic Disease Patients,” is planned for April 28–29, 2023. The annual International State-of-the-Art Symposium, now in its third year, demonstrates Yale Rheumatology’s leadership and commitment to improving the health of people with rheumatic diseases. The 2022 event, which focused on reactive arthritis—a disease that appeared with increasing frequency in patients diagnosed with COVID-19 during the pandemic—drew more than 200 attendees from around the world.

Submitted by Julie Parry on July 07, 2023