MICHIGAN MEDICINE DIVISION OF RHEUMATOLOGY
Spring 2019
Dear Alumni, Faculty, Staff and Friends,
 
I hope everyone is enjoying Spring so far since the warmer weather has finally arrived in Michigan. I'm pleased to say that the Division of Rheumatology has been busy since our last newsletter and we have so much to share with you.
 
Our faculty and staff have been highlighted in several news pieces, both internally and externally. This is wonderful as it brings a local and national spotlight to the excellent work we are accomplishing here in Rheumatology!
 
In this newsletter, we are highlighting several recent grants and funding awards received by our faculty. I hope you enjoy learning about some of the many research projects taking place in our Division.
 
I would like to take this time to congratulate our graduating fellows and welcome our new fellows, who will be joining us July 1st. We have included more information on where our graduating fellows are going below. We’re so proud!
 
The Division of Rheumatology has also said a fond farewell to some of our faculty members earlier this year. Dr. Amr Sawalha was recently appointed Director of the Division of Rheumatology at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh as of April 1, 2019. Dr. Steven Lundy left the University of Michigan for a position in Seattle, Washington. We also celebrated the retirement of Dr. Bruce Richardson after 36 years in the Division. He won’t be going far as he will stay on as an active emeritus with the ACE grant until 2020. Although we are sad to see them go, we are excited for their next adventures.
 
We hope you will share your comments and suggestions with us at umrheumatologydivision@umich.edu . And please visit our  Division of Rheumatology  website to learn more about our research, patient care, and education and training efforts.
 
Sincerely,
 
Interim Chief, Division of Rheumatology
Chief, Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine 
Professor of Internal Medicine
Bruce Richardson, MD, PhD
After an exceptional 36-year career, Dr. Bruce Richardson has announced his retirement from the University of Michigan Division of Rheumatology. Dr. Richardson graduated with MD and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago in 1977. He then completed three years of Internal Medicine training at the University of Michigan, two years as a Rheumatology Fellow at the University of California at San Francisco, two years as a Research Associate at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and as an Instructor in Medicine at UCSF. Dr. Richardson went on to become an Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan in 1982. His outstanding research contributions earned him a promotion to the rank of full Professor in 1997.

Dr. Richardson has maintained a lifelong commitment to lupus research and pioneered the study of epigenetics in autoimmune disease in a time when the term “epigenetics” was not widely known. The innovative direction of his research has made a remarkable difference in the study of lupus. Dr. Richardson also has a longstanding record as a research mentor and trainer of new investigators, and has inspired many rheumatologists to follow in his footsteps. Many of these trainees have since moved on to leadership positions in academia. While stepping into many critical roles at the University of Michigan, Dr. Richardson also served as Chief of the Rheumatology Section at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. His leadership roles also extended to national organizations and has lectured all over the world on the pathogenesis of lupus.

Please join us in wishing Dr. Richardson all the best in his retirement!
Amr Sawalha, MD
The Division celebrated Dr. Amr Sawalha’s new role at the University of Pittsburgh in March. Dr. Sawalha accepted a leadership role at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) as the Director of the Division of Rheumatology at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He will establish and lead a new Autoimmune Genomics Research Center at UPMC and will also be the Director of the Comprehensive Lupus Center of Excellence spanning the clinical and research enterprises of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh.

We have been privileged to have Dr. Sawalha work closely with the Division for the past 7 years at the University of Michigan. He has enhanced the research quality and depth for our faculty who have been fortunate to collaborate with him and his group.

Dr. Sawalha’s new leadership roles will provide additional opportunities to advance the field of rheumatology and we look forward to continued collaborations with him in the future.

Congratulations, Dr. Sawalha!
Research & Publications
Dinesh Khanna, MD, MSc publishes an updated Digestive System Involvement in Scleroderma Medical Report for the Scleroderma Foundation and co-authors the updated  Pulmonary Hypertension & Scleroderma brochure for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association.
Adam Kilian, MD and Seetha Monrad, MD publish chapter on “Workforce Trends in Rheumatology” in Best Practices and Challenges to the Practice of Rheumatology. Read more on Science Direct .
The Department of Internal Medicine Annual Research Symposium took place May 9-10. This symposium showcases the research projects completed by residents and provides an opportunity for fellows and students, as well as faculty, to present their work and interact with department members. Mirette Habib, BS ( UROP Student ); Sara Jaafar, MD ; Vivek Nagaraja, MBBS ; and David Roofeh, MD were selected to participate.

In the News
Pei-Suen (Eliza) Tsou, PhD; Phillip Campbell; M. Asif Amin, MD; Patrick Coit; Shaylynn Miller; David Fox, MD; Dinesh Khanna, MD, MSc; and Amr Sawalha, MD discover a specific molecule that could be contributing to the progression of scleroderma in patients. Read more on Michigan Medicine Health Lab .
Results from clinical trials FaSScinate and FocuSSced, led by Dinesh Khanna, MD, MSc, are recognized at the Basic and Clinical Immunology for the Busy Clinician symposium. Read more on Healio .

Dinesh Khanna, MD, MSc , who led development of a novel, recently endorsed scleroderma outcome measure, discusses current and future clinical trials and treatments on Michigan Medicine Health Lab .
Amber Young, MD; Kate Homer; and Dinesh Khanna, MD, MSc find that a significant proportion of patients have coexisting pulmonary hypertension that occurs early after SSc-ILD diagnosis. Read more on Rheumatology Advisor .
Puja Khanna, MD, MPH focuses on quality of life and outcomes in patients with chronic refractory gout. Read more on Department of Internal Medicine News .
Ramadan Ali, PhD and Jason Knight, MD, PhD discuss their new research on anti-inflammatory treatments that could provide a more targeted way to treat APS on Michigan Medicine Health Lab .
Wendy Marder, MD reviews the impact of telemedicine in the practice of rheumatology. Watch podcast on Rheumatology Consultant .
J. Michelle Kahlenberg MD, PhD is featured by The Rheumatologist in their Awards, Appointments & Announcements section.
Daniel Clauw, MD shares his perspective on prescribing and recommending marijuana for pain management. Read more on Annals of Internal Medicine .
Research Project Highlights
(L to R): Jason Knight, MD, PhD; Vivek Nagaraja, MBBS; Pei-Suen (Eliza) Tsou, PhD; Beth Wallace, MD
Jason Knight, MD, PhD
  • "Role of Neutrophil Extracellular Traps in Diabetic Cardiovascular Disease"
  • "Defibrotide as a Regulator of Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs) and Endothelial Cells in Antiphospholipid Syndrome"

Vivek Nagaraja, MBBS
  • "Integration of Patient-Reported Outcome Measurement into Clinical Rheumatology Practice"
  • "The ArthritisPoer Trial - A Multi-Center Cluster Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial to Determine the Impact of a Mobile Health Application on Rheumatoid Arthritis Shared Decision Making"

Pei-Suen (Eliza) Tsou, PhD
  • "BET Bromodomain Proteins in Scleroderma Fibrosis"

Beth Wallace, MD
  • "Rheumatologist Proclivity to Prescribe Glucocorticoids for Rheumatoid Arthritis Management"

Awards, Honors & Recognition
David Fox, MD is awarded early-stage funding from Michigan Drug Discovery to optimize and test compounds for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. Read more on Michigan Medicine Headlines .
J. Michelle Kahlenberg MD, PhD was an invited lecturer at the 13th International Congress on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in San Francisco, California, where she presented "Interferons and Innate Immunity in Lupus Skin".

In addition, she is on the Department of Dermatology's Skin Biology and Disease Resource-based Center (P30) team, which was selected for funding by the NIH. Dr. Kahlenberg will be the co-director of the Animal Modeling Core.
Wendy Marder, MD is inducted into the Michigan Medicine Clinical Excellence Society . The Society recognizes in an ongoing fashion those faculty who, by their peers and their division, exude and demonstrate clinical excellence towards their patients and colleagues.
Sonya Wolf-Fortune, PhD , an Immunology Program Graduate Student and research assistant in Dr. Kahlenberg's lab, presented her thesis "The role of Type I Interferons in TLR7-Mediated Lupus and UVB-Induced Immune Cell Responses".
Dinesh Khanna, MD, MSc; David Fox, MD; and J. Michelle Kahlenberg, MD, PhD were awarded a grant, up to $10.2 million, from the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Clinical Autoimmunity Center of Excellence . This grant will allow them to explore personalized approaches to treating autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and others.
Division News
David Roofeh, MD , a clinical lecturer and research fellow in the Division of Rheumatology, has been appointed as an instructor in the Division, beginning in July. He will be the newest member of the Scleroderma Program and is supported by the Division's T32 Grant. He is also the lead author of a recent state-of-the-art review on the management of scleroderma-associated lung fibrosis. Read more .
Hui Shi, MD, PhD is a new research fellow and the latest addition to Dr. Jason Knight’s lab . Prior to coming to Ann Arbor, Dr. Shi worked as a rheumatologist at Shanghai Ruijin Hospital, a well-known hospital in China. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Nanjing Medical University in Clinical Medicine. She then went on to receive her PhD degree in Rheumatology at Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine. Learn more about Dr. Hui Shi .
Expression of Gratitude

Below is an email that Dr. David Fox recently received from the husband of a patient, expressing gratitude for the care his wife received from Dr. Fox, Dr. Dinesh Khanna, and Dr. Andrew Vreede.

Dr. Fox,

I realize that you are no longer the director of rheumatology; however, you’ve had personal interactions with my wife Erica Goff, so I decided to address this to you.

Since becoming a patient at UofM, Erica’s health and stability has never been better. You, Dr. Khanna, and Dr. Vreede have been instrumental in this. Erica was diagnosed at age 17, so she’s known a few doctors over the years. Dr. Vreede is her favorite doctor in all that time. We trust his knowledge and medical judgement, but perhaps more importantly, his human interaction with her (us) as a patient is outstanding. Frankly, she feels that she’s not just a collection of diagnostic outcomes, but a person under his care. When Dr. Khanna told us that he’d be staying on full time after his fellowship, she was overjoyed.

Erica is a determined woman. She’s always been determined that this illness would never stop her. And to date it hasn’t: two master’s degrees and just a dissertation away from a doctorate while directing the grants office at a university from almost non-existent to more than $6M/year. We both know that her care at UofM over the last four years has been instrumental in helping her achieve what she has. We can’t thank you enough.

Lex Koltowicz
David Fox, MD, Professorship in Rheumatology
The David Fox, MD, Professorship in Rheumatology was created to honor Dr. Fox's remarkable accomplishments in the laboratory and his influence in the care of patients with rheumatic diseases locally and nationally. The professorship will forever celebrate Dr. Fox’s contributions, and will enable those who hold this endowed title to also make a profound impact in advancing knowledge, improving patient care, and training new generations of rheumatologists.

To make a gift, please visit the David Fox, MD Professorship in Rheumatology online giving page .
Education & Training
Rheumatology Fellowship Training Program

  • Adam Kilian, MD - Appointed Assistant Professor at George Washington University in Washington, DC
  • Andrew Lewandoski, DO - Joined the large multi-specialty practice Metro Health, affiliated with University of Michigan
  • Ryan Massey, MBBS - Obtained a position with St. Francis Health System providing care for the underserved area in Tulsa, OK
  • David Roofeh, MD - Appointed as Instructor in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Michigan, supported by our T32 Grant

Update in Rheumatic Diseases
Saturday, September 14, 2019
The Kensington Hotel, Ann Arbor, Michigan

This full day course, directed by Dinesh Khanna, MD, MSc, will educate health care providers on the most up-to-date management and treatment options for different rheumatic diseases, leading to improved patient outcomes. We hope you will be able to join us! Learn more and register .