We at the Pennsylvania Rheumatology Society hope you and your family are well. These indeed are troubled days with everything from the pandemic, to racial tensions, to political divisions that seem more polarized than ever. Our patients are afraid since they are at higher risk due to their autoimmune disorder as well as their medications they have to take to manage their disease. Rheumatologists have had to embrace telemedicine and distance learning. Small private practices and large health care systems have taken large financial losses and had to borrow money to sustain their businesses and keep their doors (and their tele-videos) open. As I pen this, COVID-19 cases are surging in Pennsylvania and schools are struggling to find a safe way to open in several weeks. We in Rheumatology have been fortunate the American College of Rheumatology has convened taskforces: one to advise members on how to guide our patients through the pandemic and to safely open our offices and; a second to provide members with practice and advocacy resources to mitigate the economic impact of COVID. I recommend you review these guideline/resource documents if you have not already. We shall persevere I remain confident. But it may take a year or more to come out of this.

The ACR has also posted a statement about healthcare disparities and inclusion which the PRS fully supports. Please consider nominating yourself to be on the new Diversity-Inclusion Taskforce the ACR is forming. In addition, we hope to soon add an additional statement on our website from Brian Williams, MD, a speaker at last year’s PRS Annual Scientific Meeting. Stay tuned.

The 7th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Pennsylvania Rheumatology Society will be “virtual” this year occurring on the last weekend of September live, but we hope to have enduring materials available for meeting registrants.

We again are offering up to $1000 one-time scholarships to reimburse rheumatology fellows in the state for participation in any ACR course/meeting.

New this year, the PRS board has approved the initiation of a scholarship program to reimburse Advanced Practitioners (physician assistants, nurse practitioners) who take an ACR course designed for Advanced Practitioners (either online or in person). Despite COVID, there is a deepening shortage of rheumatology providers in Pennsylvania and we would like to provide resources to help attract, train, and retain advanced providers to the field of rheumatology. As a pilot, we will have 5 scholarships available in October. For more information, please contact Rebecca Doctrow at

Finally, I would like to thank our staff, the Annual Scientific Meeting Planning Committee, our Advocacy Committee members, the Board, and our corporate partners without whom none of this would be possible. Stay safe. 
Al Denio, MD
Advanced Practitioners Scholarship
The Pennsylvania Rheumatology Society is offering 5 scholarships of up to $1,800 to advanced practitioners, such as Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners, working in the field of rheumatology. The scholarship will help pay for the Advanced Rheumatology Course through the American College of Rheumatology. The self-paced course is designed to expand the knowledge and practical skills of providers in rheumatology practice, academic training and primary care. As Dr. Denio mentioned above, our hope is that offering this scholarship will help address the deepening shortage of rheumatology providers in the state of Pennsylvania. More information on the course can be found on the ACR website. Please help us spread the word to your colleagues who may be interested in the course and applying for our scholarship next month. 
For information on the course, visit the ACR website.

Application Process
  • Application is open from October 1 – November 1.
  • Application link will be listed below starting on October 1.
  • Applicants will be notified of the outcome of the scholarship process by November 15.
Applicant Requirements
  • Applicant must be an affiliate member of the Pennsylvania Rheumatology Society. Membership pricing, details, and application can be found at the Join PRS link on our website
  • Applicant must be sponsored by a current member of the Pennsylvania Rheumatology Society. If they are not a current member, they can also apply at the Join PRS link on our website.
  • Applicant does not need to be a member of the ACR, but the course is less expensive for ACR members.
  • Recipients of scholarship must, to the best of their current knowledge, intend to stay in Pennsylvania and practicing in a rheumatology setting for 3 years.
  • PRS will follow up with the recipient following course completion for 3 years to monitor impact of the course.
2020 Annual Meeting Preview
As we hope you have all seen by now, this year’s annual meeting will be held virtually September 26-27. As you have come to expect in past years, we will have the same great programing and learning opportunities for attendees, complete with 7 educational speakers and our annual Thieves Market presentation – 8.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™! Don’t forget to visit our exhibit hall in between sessions for a chance to win a $500 Apple gift card. While we wish we could be meeting in person this year, join us from the comfort of your couch for just $50 (member rate)!
PRS has a great line-up of speakers and education sessions planned for the virtual 2020 meeting. More details on the sessions and the meeting can be found on the Virtual Annual Meeting Agenda.
This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and polices of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint providership of the Pennsylvania Medical Society and the Pennsylvania Rheumatology Society.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The Pennsylvania Medical Society designates this live activity for a maximum of 8.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physician should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
Dr. Michelle Petri, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology and Co-Director of the Lupus Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, discusses “The Unrecognized Impact of Organ Damage in SLE” in a webinar can be accessed on demand via the following links:

If you have questions or would like to speak with a GSK Medical representative about the topic, go to to chat or request a follow-up meeting.
Tanmayee Bichile, MD
Councilor - West
10/1/19 – 9/30/21

I was born and raised in Mumbai, India. My mother, who is a rheumatologist in Mumbai, had a major influence on me becoming a physician and ultimately a rheumatologist. I came to Evanston IL for an Internal medicine residency in 2010 from St. Francis Hospital and completed my rheumatology fellowship in 2016 from Johns Hopkins University. I have an interest in lupus which I was able to pursue for an additional year there. I am currently working as a Rheumatologist at Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh. I was given the opportunity to be involved with PRS as the Early Career Representative for Western PA. I share PRS’ vision to engage younger rheumatologists from across the state. I am confident that further engagement of younger rheumatologists in the society would provide them with a voice that can be heard to better understand their issues and receive the support/solutions they need. 
Kanchana Herath, MD
Councilor - Central
10/1/19 – 9/30/21

I am originally from Minnesota. I did my Internal Medicine residency at Medical College of Wisconsin and completed my Rheumatology fellowship at UPMC in 2018. I am currently practicing at Lancaster General Health. 
The Pennsylvania Rheumatology Society helps me connect with other practicing rheumatologists in the state. As a rheumatologist in the community my exposure to residents and fellows is limited. PRS provides me the opportunity to be involved in educating and providing resources along with support to the next generation of rheumatologists. 
Janelle Witters
Meeting Manager

Janelle Witters joined the PRS Team in April of 2019. Coming from a background in hospitality and events management, Janelle has worked at several different types of venues over the last 17 years and brings her experience to assist in improving the PRS Annual Meeting experience for attendees and exhibitors, as well as any other additional needs. Originally from Wilkes-Barre, PA, Janelle moved to Central PA in 1986. She is an avid sports fan who loves the outdoors, hiking with her husband and dog, as well attending concerts and comedy shows. She also spends some of her spare time and resources to Animal Shelters in need. 
If you are interested in posting a job, please contact us at (717) 558-7750, extension 1599 or Postings are complimentary.
Ideas or suggestions for newsletter articles can be submitted to the PRS staff office, or by telephone, (717) 558-7750, ext. 1599.