New Rheumatologist at Minnesota Clinic
Meghan Scheibe, MD, is pleased with her new position at CentraCare Clinic Rheumatology and Infusion Services, a hospital-based practice in St. Cloud, Minn. “It’s a great practice,” says Dr. Scheibe. “Young, energetic partners and wonderful support staff. I’m seeing four to six new patients a day.” These are patients who had not been seen before because of staffing shortage.
Dr. Scheibe was drawn to rheumatology early in life. A family member was diagnosed with a rheumatoid condition while Dr. Scheibe was a high school student. “The fact that they could diagnose and treat the disease was life changing for both of us.”
When rheumatology was her second rotation as a resident, the die was cast. “I thought it was fascinating stuff. I liked the intellectual challenge.”
She completed her medical degree at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb. She completed her internal medicine residency at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and a rheumatology fellowship at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
Medical Practice in Pennsylvania Hires 1st Rheumatologist
Arif Shahzad, MD, has filled a need as the solo rheumatologist at Pocono Medical Center Physician Associates in Brodheadsville, Pa. In addition to new referrals from primary care physicians, he’s seeing patients who have transferred from doctors as far as 45 minutes away. Providing local care fits into his long-term goal for patients “to have good quality and function in life.”
Although he’s particularly interested in early-onset rheumatology, his current patients are all along the spectrum. That variety also suits his goals as a physician: “Unraveling the case, doing the detective work. That makes it very rewarding. We don’t cure, but we can control, the disease. We have long-term relationships with our patients and can help them be able to do the activities they want to do.”
Dr. Shahzad earned his medical degree from Saba University of Medicine, Netherlands Antilles, followed by his position at St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe, La., as a hospitalist, and a rheumatology fellowship at Ochsner Medical Center, New Orleans.
Nurse in England Lauded by Her Patients
Kelly Hayes-Head, senior rheumatology nurse at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, Keighley, West Yorkshire, England, has received Highly Commended in the Patients’ Choice Awards from the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS). Ms. Hayes-Head has been at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust since 2003.
“I originally worked in oncology and hematology. The rheumatology department needed help with the methotrexate injection clinics and asked me if I would help out for a few weeks. I became really interested in rheumatology and started my own research about the disease process, organ involvement and the other diseases that our rheumatology team covers. I felt a new surge of excitement and found learning fun again.”
When asked what might have led patients to rate her Highly Commended, she says, “It’s the small things that patients like, that they feel I am listening to them and that I am interested in them as individuals and not their disease. It’s about giving the right care at the right time to the right patient.”
HSS Rheumatologist among Newest National Academy of Medicine Members
Jane Salmon, MD, rheumatologist and the Collette Kean research professor at Hospital for Special Surgery, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). “Exceptional professional achievement and commitment to service” are recognized as qualifications for one of the top honors in the medical and health fields.
Dr. Salmon said that she was humbled and gratified “that the organization values translational work in my field of research.” Her research focuses on mechanisms of organ damage in rheumatic diseases, particularly pregnancy among lupus patients. She says, “Not enough is known about what causes problems in pregnancy, and less is known about how to prevent them. Lupus affects predominantly women, and they want to know if pregnancy is safe and if we can intervene if they get into trouble. We must find answers to these questions.”
She and her team have completed a multi-center, multi-racial prospective study of lupus pregnancies involving 700 patients followed monthly. The understanding they gained about clinical predictors and biomarkers of poor outcomes has allowed them to initiate the first interventional trial to prevent preeclampsia in lupus patients identified as high risk, a study with implications for pregnancy complications in all women.
NIH Physician Recognized for Cytokine Research
John O’Shea, MD, is one of three recipients of this year’s Seymour and Vivian Melstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research given by the International Cytokine and Interferon Society (ICIS). The award recognizes “premier scientists who have translated basic research findings into clinical benefit for thousands of patients,” according to the Society’s award announcement.
He says being honored by the Society is especially meaningful to him, because as a young medical student he was interested in fever—which naturally led to an interest in cytokines. Today, one area of his scientific interest is cytokine signal transduction. His research with the highest visibility is probably the discovery and development of tofacitinib—brand name Xeljanz—in collaboration with Pfizer.
“The dramatic advances in research are so exciting,” says Dr. O’Shea. “If you’ve been in this business long enough, you know the advances become faster the more we know. The research tools keep getting better. In drug development, for example, what you learn is that our understanding of biology changes as we learn more.”
Dr. O’Shea is the senior investigator and director of the Molecular Immunology and Inflammation Branch, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).
2016 Research & Hope Awards from PhRMA
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) recognized patient advocates and researchers with 2016 Research & Hope Awards at the annual dinner in Washington, D.C. PhRMA represents leading biopharmaceutical research companies. This year’s award recipients were honored for their tireless efforts to advance the treatment and care of patients with autoimmune diseases.
After an open-nomination process, the Scientific Advisory Board of the PhRMA Foundation selected six recipients of Research & Hope awards, five of which came from the rheumatology community.
The Award for Biopharmaceutical Industry Research went to the Humira team led by John Medich, PhD, vice president, immunology clinical development, at AbbVie (a 2013 spinoff of Abbott Laboratories). Before becoming vice president at AbbVie, Dr. Medich was the global project head for Humira, which is FDA approved to treat 10 autoimmune diseases. Dr. Medich says, “The future is in personalized medicine.” With a better understanding of patients and disease, he believes there could be a library of treatments to draw from, rather than pursuing treatment through trial and error.
Joan Merrill, MD, chief advisor, clinical development, Lupus Foundation of America (LFA), received the Award for Nonprofit Research. Dr. Merrill says because lupus is not just one simple organism, but rather multiple disorders of the immune system, clinical treatment design is difficult. She’s part of a collaborative group working on an outcome measure for lupus: LFA-REAL (Rapid Evaluation of Activity in Lupus). “This isn’t personal medicine like treating cancer. This will be precision medicine: finding the subset of patients that meds will most likely help,” says Dr. Merrill.
The Award for Government Research was awarded to Lisa G. Rider, MD, deputy chief, environmental autoimmunity group, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health. Dr. Rider’s research focus has been on juvenile myositis—developing validated assessments and trial response criteria, as well as defining major autoantibody phenotypes and associated outcomes. She says, “Finding the cure is a long and winding road with many forks and complex puzzles like looking at biomarkers, genetics and environmental factors.” Although the cure may not be just around the corner, she says, “The research for the cure provides information for developing new response treatments.”
Virginia Ladd, president and executive director, American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) Inc., was the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Advocacy & Activism. Ms. Ladd’s advocacy came from personal experience. She got involved with the beginning of the Lupus Foundation in Michigan after she came down with the disease at a young age. Then in 1991, she founded AARDA to bring national focus on autoimmunity. “Autoimmune diseases were not recognized as related.
The separate approaches to all the different diseases were bad for research,” says Ms. Ladd. She takes pride in AARDA’s annual in-kind contributions of about $1 million. “I try to find really good people and get them involved.”
The Award for Visibility & Progress recipient is Parker Lentini, patient and advocate. A 16-year-old high school student with systemic-onset juvenile arthritis and several overlap syndromes, Mr. Lentini has raised more than $105,000 for juvenile arthritis since his diagnosis at age 10.
When Mr. Lentini told fellow students he had arthritis, the typical response was, “My grandmother has arthritis.” No one seemed to know that kids could have arthritis.
After he made a video about “what I go through each week, the kids didn’t treat me as though I was different.” As for his future plans, Mr. Lentini says, “I see myself always being part of this community, because the community has helped me more than I can say.”
Ann-Marie Lindstrom is an independent writer and editor based in the Tucson, Ariz.