As a pediatric rheumatologist and researcher, I specialize in treating autoinflammatory disorders, juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), systemic JIA, and complications of systemic JIA such as macrophage activation syndrome and lung disease.
I've always enjoyed working with children and families. I find the passion of parents inspiring and love the energy, humor and honesty of kids. I was drawn to rheumatology because we are asked hard questions, such as how to solve disease puzzles and how to find the best treatments. I also enjoy the long-term relationships with families and patients.
My interest in how the immune system works and how it fails led me to my research. My graduate work was in microbiology and how highly virulent microbes subvert the host immune system. In rheumatic diseases the immune system has become dysregulated to overreact or attack the body itself.
Broadly, I am interested in autoinflammation — how the body’s first line of defense becomes dysregulated in inflammatory diseases. More specifically, my principle interest is in the complications of systemic JIA such as macrophage activation syndrome and systemic JIA-associated lung disease.
My colleagues and I are trying to determine what causes severe complications of autoinflammatory disorders such as systemic JIA, how do we best treat and control hyperinflammation and how can we use novel biomarkers and genomics to direct our treatments.
I was extremely honored in 2018 to receive the Gold Medal Suzanne Dehoche Prize from the Kourir Association, a French organization for families of children with JIA. They present this prize to researchers whose work is most likely to lead to new treatments for juvenile arthritis. This was an amazing recognition of what we hope to do: Use genomics techniques to accelerate treatments.
Pediatric rheumatology; juvenile idiopathic arthritis; macrophage activation syndrome; autoinflammatory syndromes; periodic fevers
Systemic JIA; macrophage activation syndrome; innate immunity; monocyte and macrophage functions; whole exome sequencing
Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics