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Lupus Program

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE, or lupus) is autoimmune disease in which the immune system causes inflammation in the joints, skin, kidneys, lungs, and other internal organs. Rheumatologists are experts in the care and treatment of patients with lupus, and at the Yale Lupus Program, they also coordinate care with other specialists to provide comprehensive evaluation and treatment plans. Yale School of Medicine lupus researchers are also part of the Program, with the goal to advance the treatment and understanding of this complex disease. The Program thus provides unparalleled access to experts in the clinical care and treatment of patients with SLE, and the most up-to-date information about new therapies.

The clinical program is directed by Fotios Koumpouras, MD, who also is the principle investigator of the Yale Rheumatology Biorepository. The program offers the ability to follow patients with lupus over time using disease activity research tools (instruments).

Clinical Care

With sites on Yale St. Raphael’s Campus and the YNHH Interventional Immunology Center at North Haven, the Yale Lupus Program provides comprehensive evaluation and treatment of patients, and education about the disease for patients and their family members. Patients are evaluated and treated by rheumatologists and other specialists, including dermatologists and nephrologists. The Program provides multidisciplinary evaluations by experts in maternal-fetal medicine, neurology, pulmonary medicine, and cardiology. The Program also contains:

  • A state-of-the art Infusion Center for administration of the most up-to-date therapies.
  • A Lupus Wellness Program: Lupus can be a complicated condition to understand and education is the first step in empowering people to be an active part of their treatment decisions and improve the quality of their life.
  • A Transition Program for young adults with lupus that works towards each person’s individual goals emphasizing education and shared decision making.

Research

An essential part of the Yale Lupus Program is ongoing clinical and translational research, with the goal of reaching a better understanding the cause of lupus, and advancing treatment. Patients at the Program have access to novel therapies and the opportunity to participate in clinical research studies should they choose to do so.

Goals and Impact

Goals
  • Study SLE in a select group of patients that represent the diverse spectrum of disease
  • You will see our experts and become part of new discoveries for SLE
  • Deliver patient-centered care for SLE by a team of dedicated experts
  • Use our SLE registry to accelerate a cure for lupus
  • Expand our partnership with the Lupus Research Alliance (LRA) and the Lupus Clinical Investigator Network (LuCIN) to conduct high fidelity research in the best academic centers in the United States, all working collaboratively
  • Support pilot studies conducted in the basic science laboratories at Yale and cross disciplinary investigation in cardiology, Immunobiology, dermatology, gynecology and reproductive health.


Impact

  • Regional hub for SLE care and access to SLE related clinical trials
  • Member site LuCIN
  • Part of the investigative team that participated in the study of voclosporin recently approved by the FDA for lupus nephritis
  • Featured expert for the Lupus Foundation of America and the LRA
  • Development of the first rheumatology-dermatology clinic in Connecticut
  • Continuous LRA support since 2015
  • First ever clinical trials program for SLE at Yale
  • Development of clinical specimen biorepository for SLE supporting novel discoveries

Lupus Wellness Program

The Yale Lupus Program offers a comprehensive Lupus Wellness Program that provides lupus patients with knowledge about their disease, and methods and means to manage multiple aspects of their health. Meeting in a one on one session with the nurse practitioner, patients learn about how their disease affects their bodies and how to recognize and manage lupus symptoms. Lupus patients are also taught how to incorporate preventative health practices into their day to day lives, and improve self-advocacy and adherence. The Lupus Wellness Program empowers patients with tools to help maximize communication with their health care providers and use technology to maintain their own personal health records. The program also hosts support group meetings throughout the year where participants can not only meet other people with lupus, but also learn about nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction techniques together. The Lupus Wellness Program is an especially important resource for those newly diagnosed with lupus or those who are transitioning from pediatric rheumatology practice into the adult rheumatology setting. The program is also offered in Spanish.

To learn more visit:

Program Leader

  • Assistant Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology); Director of Education and Training, Rheumatology; Director Yale Lupus Program

    Dr. Fotios Koumpouras is Assistant Professor of Medicine and Director of the Yale Lupus Program. Dr. Koumpouras is a native of New York City and is a graduate of the Stuyvesant School at 16yrs of age. He completed his college education at State University of New York with honors in Chemistry and Biology, and was a member of the research team at the Wadsworth Center New York State Department of Health investigating cyclin E as a prognostic marker for breast cancer. In addition, he was part of the effort at the Albany Medical College to bio-engineer erythrocytes in search for a new blood substitute. Dr. Koumpouras attended St. George's University School of Medicine and was elected into Iota Epsilon Alpha, the international medical honor society, and graduated first in his class, completed post-graduate training in internal medicine and was Chief Medical Resident at Stony Brook University. He completed a clinical rheumatology fellowship program, as well as a program in Investigative Rheumatology, at Yale University School of Medicine. He was awarded the Physician Scientist Development Award from the American College of Rheumatology, and was co-PI for the ILAR project geared to improve access for rheumatologic services in East Africa.

    Dr. Koumpouras worked closely with Dr. Susan Manzi from 2007-2015 at the University of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Clinic, and was an integral member of the clinical research team. He was involved in both investigator initiated and pharmaceutical clinical trials for SLE and was principal site investigator for the ITN trial of Abatacept and Cyclophosphamide for Lupus Nephritis. He was also principal site investigator for the Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial of the Effect of Vitamin D3 on the Interferon Signature in Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Furthermore, he was site co-PI for the SLICC clinical research program, which resulted in improved criteria for the diagnostic assessment of SLE. He was co-investigator of the Safety and Effectiveness of Belimumab in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Registry (SABLE) clinical trial. Dr. Koumpouras was the site PI for BLISS 99 and co-PI for HGS 1006, the clinical trials that lead to approval of Benlysta for the treatment of systemic lupus.  Presently Dr. Koumpouras is the principle investigator for several active clinical trials in SLE at Yale and developed and is principle investigator of the Yale Rheumatology BioRepository.

    Dr. Koumpouras is board certified in both internal medicine and rheumatology. He is an active member of the American College of Rheumatology, the Arthritis Foundation, and the Lupus Foundation.  He is an committee member for the ACR RheumPAC, often going to Washington to advocate for arthritis in congress.  In addition to SLE, Dr. Koumpouras has an interest in lupus biomarkers, new lupus therapeutics, clinical trial management and execution, rheumatology education, diagnostic and treatment dilemmas, and adolescent arthritis.

Our Team

  • Instructor

    Dr. Chock completed her MD degree at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada.  She completed her residency at New York Presbyterian in Queens, New York.  Dr. Chock joined the Section of Rheumatology for her fellowship in 2016, she recently received her MPH degree from Johns Hopkins University. She has a strong interest in data synthesis, systematic reviews and meta- analysis. Her current research endeavor includes investigation of drug effects and outcomes using large health survey or administrative data. 

  • Assistant Professor

    Dr. Dong completed medical degree at Wuhan University School of Medicine before pursuing PhD study at University of Connecticut Health Center. Her PhD work focused on chemoattractant signaling in leukocyte homing and activation at sites of infection and injury including atherosclerosis. Following the PhD work, she joined Dr. Joseph Craft’s laboratory at Yale for postdoctoral training. She studied transcriptional factors in immune cell development in murine lupus under the auspices of a postdoctoral Brown-Coxe Fellowship and an Arthritis Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. During rheumatology fellowship training at Yale, she investigated the role of STAT4-guided expression in driving pathogenic cytokine production in human lupus. Her current research focus is to understand cardiovascular diseases in systemic lupus erythematosus. 

  • Professor; Director of Allergy & Immunology, Internal Medicine

    Dr. Insoo Kang is Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology) at Yale University School of Medicine. He completed his post-graduate training in rheumatology and immunology research at Yale. He has been on the faculty at Yale School of Medicine since 1999. He is a physician scientist with a research interest in understanding the human immune system using biological samples and clinical data. In particular, Dr. Kang has defined subsets of T cells with distinct cellular characteristics based on the expression of cytokine receptors on T cells in health and disease as well as the interactions of such cell subsets with monocytes and other immune cells.

  • Assistant Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology); Director of Education and Training, Rheumatology; Director Yale Lupus Program

    Dr. Fotios Koumpouras is Assistant Professor of Medicine and Director of the Yale Lupus Program. Dr. Koumpouras is a native of New York City and is a graduate of the Stuyvesant School at 16yrs of age. He completed his college education at State University of New York with honors in Chemistry and Biology, and was a member of the research team at the Wadsworth Center New York State Department of Health investigating cyclin E as a prognostic marker for breast cancer. In addition, he was part of the effort at the Albany Medical College to bio-engineer erythrocytes in search for a new blood substitute. Dr. Koumpouras attended St. George's University School of Medicine and was elected into Iota Epsilon Alpha, the international medical honor society, and graduated first in his class, completed post-graduate training in internal medicine and was Chief Medical Resident at Stony Brook University. He completed a clinical rheumatology fellowship program, as well as a program in Investigative Rheumatology, at Yale University School of Medicine. He was awarded the Physician Scientist Development Award from the American College of Rheumatology, and was co-PI for the ILAR project geared to improve access for rheumatologic services in East Africa.

    Dr. Koumpouras worked closely with Dr. Susan Manzi from 2007-2015 at the University of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Clinic, and was an integral member of the clinical research team. He was involved in both investigator initiated and pharmaceutical clinical trials for SLE and was principal site investigator for the ITN trial of Abatacept and Cyclophosphamide for Lupus Nephritis. He was also principal site investigator for the Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial of the Effect of Vitamin D3 on the Interferon Signature in Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Furthermore, he was site co-PI for the SLICC clinical research program, which resulted in improved criteria for the diagnostic assessment of SLE. He was co-investigator of the Safety and Effectiveness of Belimumab in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Registry (SABLE) clinical trial. Dr. Koumpouras was the site PI for BLISS 99 and co-PI for HGS 1006, the clinical trials that lead to approval of Benlysta for the treatment of systemic lupus.  Presently Dr. Koumpouras is the principle investigator for several active clinical trials in SLE at Yale and developed and is principle investigator of the Yale Rheumatology BioRepository.

    Dr. Koumpouras is board certified in both internal medicine and rheumatology. He is an active member of the American College of Rheumatology, the Arthritis Foundation, and the Lupus Foundation.  He is an committee member for the ACR RheumPAC, often going to Washington to advocate for arthritis in congress.  In addition to SLE, Dr. Koumpouras has an interest in lupus biomarkers, new lupus therapeutics, clinical trial management and execution, rheumatology education, diagnostic and treatment dilemmas, and adolescent arthritis.

  • Associate Professor of Medicine; Associate Program Director - Nephrology Fellowship, Nephrology

    Dr. Luciano has expertise in treating patients with glomerular disease (a kind of kidney disease that affects the filtering aspect of the kidney) and kidney-related vasculitis. Additionally, Dr. Luciano treats patients with, but not limited to, minimal change disease, membranous nephropathy, FSGS, renal amyloidosis, Lupus nephritis, IgA nephropathy, and ANCA mediated vasculitis. He is directly involved in the diagnosis (through biopsy) and treatment of patients with glomerular disease. In addition, he coordinates several clinical trials to help further progress the treatment options for these diseases.    

  • Staff Affiliate - YNHH; Family Nurse Practitioner

    "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about."- Wendy Mass, "The Candymakers".

    Jacinta Renaldi MSN is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner working in the section of Rheumatology at Yale. Beginning her career in nursing in 2004, Jacinta has worked with diverse populations ranging from newborns to geriatric patients in a variety of settings. She began practicing rheumatology in 2009 and joined Yale Rheumatology in 2015. She has a special interest in the treatment of Lupus and other Connective Tissue Disorders and has worked extensively in the development of the Yale Lupus Wellness Program. Jacinta is also a key member in the section of Rheumatology’s Transition of Care Program for young adults with rheumatic disease.

  • Assistant Professor; Chief, Division of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences

    Yale gynecologist Dr. Alla V. Vash-Margita focuses her practice on the medical and emotional needs of children and adolescent girls. It’s a subspecialty, she notes, that represents “a grey zone, where pediatricians may not have enough expertise and ‘adult’ gynecologists may be out of their comfort zone.”

    As an assistant professor in the department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Vash-Margita also teaches medical and midwifery students how to care for women of all ages. “I take great pride in working in close collaboration with a group of excellent students and midwives,” says Dr. Vash-Margita. “We care for women ages 11 to 90.”

    Dr. Vash-Margita’s clinical interests include office hysteroscopy and office saline hysterograms, abnormal Pap tests, female pelvic pain, gynecological laparoscopy, breech vaginal deliveries, TOLAC (trial of labor after cesarean section) and forceps-assisted deliveries.

    Dr. Vash-Margita received her MD from Uzhgorod State University Medical School in Ukraine and went on to complete her Ob/Gyn residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. Dr. Vash-Margita speaks seven languages (English, Ukrainian, Slovak, Polish, Russian, Serbian, and Hungarian). Her fluency in multiple languages allows her to be an active contributor to numerous global humanitarian organizations, including the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee and Yale’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Education Program, which provided psychological counseling to victims of the 2014 Ukraine Revolution.

For Referring Physicians

New patients are seen on a referral basis only using the new patient referral form which should be faxed to 203-785-7053 or for patients who are currently seen within the Yale New Haven Health and its partner organizations, a referral must be entered into EPIC by choosing the YNH Arthritis & Rheumatology option.