Cory Perugino, DO
Post-doctoral research fellow, Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass.
Background: Coffee. Red Bull. Quinoa. Berry-beet-wheat grass smoothies. Some need a little help to stay focused at work. Not Dr. Perugino.
“Positive patient outcomes and new discoveries in research are the two key sources of fuel for me,” he says. “I felt a natural and very palpable affinity to this specialty from the moment I learned about it my first year of medical school.”
Dr. Perugino trained at Cleveland Clinic and completed fellowship at Massachusets General Hospital, working closely with Dr. John Stone and currently in Dr. Shiv Pillai’s lab at the Ragon Institute. His research focuses on immunoglobin G4-related disease (IgG4-RD). “The goal is to better understand the nature of this disease, if it is in fact autoimmune, and which B cell subpopulations are integral to the disease process,” he says.
He’s published on the varied vascular manifestations to help clarify IgG4-RD as a distinct cause of large vessel vasculitis. He is hoping by year’s end to publish some of his work identifying the antigens the immune system targets in IgG4-RD.
‘Carving out a career as a physician-scientist is a poorly defined career path.’ —Dr. Perugino
Q: What’s the most challenging part of rheumatology?
A: Overcoming the many barriers to transitioning from a full-time clinician to a basic science-oriented investigator. Carving out a career as a physician-scientist is a poorly defined career path. Identifying the land mines that riddle that process remains an ongoing challenge.
Q: What lessons have you learned from your mentor(s)?
A: Mentorship, in my opinion, is probably the single most important aspect of training and career advancement. Through wisdom and insight, a good mentor understands the needs and strategies a mentee should take to achieve their goal.
Q: What advice do you have for the next generation of rheumatology fellows?
A: Actively seek out and identify mentors as early as possible. Diversify your mentors and synthesize the varying—sometimes conflicting—advice you receive. Rather than focusing on what disease you’re most interested in, understand what type of questions you ask most often. From there, determine which career path in rheumatology is most suitable to answer that type of question. What disease you apply this thinking to may prove inconsequential.
Q: What does it mean to be recognized by your peers?
A: It’s an incredible honor. I find myself to be highly self-critical, and just being nominated for an award like this really validates my diligence and work ethic.