Rheumatology Fellowship Research

Research opportunities are available in areas of immunology, biochemistry, and clinical trials.  Fellows may undertake projects in association with faculty throughout The Mount Sinai Health System, which are described in further detail here.

Each spring, the Department of Medicine hosts its Annual Housestaff Research Day to showcase the collaborative research efforts between faculty and trainees.  All Medicine Housestaff members who are pursing basic or clinical research submit an abstract and present their work on posters.  Participants present their work to the Research Day Advisory Committee, consisting of interdisciplinary faculty as well as colleagues and other members of the academic community and administration.  During the day’s festivities, a keynote lecture is given, and members of the housestaff are pre-selected by the Research Day Advisory Committee to give oral presentations.

The major basic science research component of the Division of Rheumatology is the laboratory of Dr. Percio Gulko, Division Chief.  Research in the Gulko lab focuses on the discovery of new genes implicated in rheumatoid arthritis, identifying prognostic biomarkers and generating new targets and more effective therapies to cure autoimmune diseases. Over the past twenty years, Dr. Gulko and his team have published a number of studies demonstrating the importance of modulating severity and joint damage in RA. The genetics and biology of fibroblast-like synoviocytes are areas of particular interest.

Clinical research endeavors currently underway in the Division of Rheumatology include:

Peter Gorevic, MD (PI)
Efficacy and Safety of ISIS-TTR Rx in Familial Amyloid Polyneuropathy
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01737398

Familial Amyloid Polyneuropathy (FAP) is a rare, hereditary disease caused by mutations in the transthyretin (TTR) protein. Under normal circumstances, TTR is made by the liver and secreted into the blood.  However, TTR mutations cause the protein to misfold and deposit in multiple organs, causing FAP.  ISIS-TTR Rx is an antisense drug that is designed to decrease the amount of mutant and normal TTR made by the liver. It is predicted that decreasing the amount of TTR protein will result in a decrease in the formation of TTR deposits, and thus slow or stop disease progression.  The purpose of this study is to determine if ISIS-TTR Rx can slow or stop the nerve damage caused by TTR deposits. This study will enroll late Stage 1 and early Stage 2 FAP patients. Patients will receive either ISIS-TTR Rx or placebo for 65 weeks.

Yousaf Ali, MD (PI)
Efficacy and Safety of Belimumab in Black Race Patients With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) (EMBRACE)
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01632241

Study participants receive stable standard therapy for lupus in addition to receiving either placebo (no active medicine) or belimumab. The controlled period of the study is 52 weeks. The random assignment in this study is "2 to 1" which means that for every 3 participants, 2 will receive belimumab and 1 will receive placebo. Participants who successfully complete the 52-week study may enter into a 6-month open-label extension. All participants in the open-label extension receive belimumab plus standard therapy.

New collaborations to expand research have been established with the Immunology Institute and the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology to discover and study new arthritis, autoimmune and inflammation regulatory genes. Rheumatology has also taken a center role in establishing a new Autoimmune Disease Research Group, and the division is establishing a strong partnership with the dermatology division to study and treat psoriatic arthritis.

Fellows may also choose to avail themselves of research training opportunities in the Department of Medicine and the Icahn School of Medicine.

Emily Carroll, Amanda Leiter, Danielle Brooks, Jennifer Ben Shimol, Elliot Eisenberg, Matthew Galsky, Emily Gallagher, and Margrit Wiesendanger
Complications of Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor Therapy in Patients with and without Pre-Existing Rheumatologic Disease, abstract presented at the Department of Medicine Research Day, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY (April 2019) and at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA (November 2019)

Sean Murray, Varun Bhalla, Seema Malkana, Ana Arevalo, Gustavo Contreras and Margrit Wiesendanger
Checkpoint Inhibitors: When T-Cells Attack, abstract presented at the Graduate Medical Education Research Day, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY (June 2019)

Maddalena Allegretta, Varun Bhalla, Seema Malkana, Margrit Wiesendanger and Peter Gorevic, Alert the PRES: An Unusual Cause of Headache in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, abstract presented at the Graduate Medical Education Research Day, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY (June 2019)

Sharon H Barazani, Weiwei Chi, Renata Pyzik, Adam Jacobi, Tom O'Donnell, Zahi Fayad, Venkatesh Mani and Yousaf Ali, Detection of Uric Acid Crystals in the Vasculature of Patients With Gout Using Dual-Energy Computed Tomography, abstract in Circulation. 2018;138:A11821 (November 2018)

Anil Mankee, Michelle Petri and Laurence S Magder
Lupus anticoagulant, disease activity and low complement in the first trimester are predictive of pregnancy loss, in Lupus Sci Med; vol. 2 (2015)

Daniel Bunker, Klaus Meinhof, Robert Hiensch, Olivia Ghaw and Christian Becker
Case based discussions: A 26-year-old woman with respiratory decompensation in the immediate postpartum period at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, in
Thorax 70:11; 1095-1097 (2015)

Daniel Bunker and Leslie Dubin Kerr
Case Report: Acute Myopericarditis Likely Secondary to Disseminated Gonococcal Infection, in Case Reports in Infectious Diseases; vol. 2015 (2015)

Daniel Bunker and Peter Gorevic
AA Amyloidosis: Mount Sinai Experience, 1997–2012, in Mt Sinai J Med 79:749–756 (2012)

Micaela Bayard, Farahaz Hassanshahi, Leticia Domínguez and Migdalia Rivera-Goba
Emerging Hispanic Leaders in Health Care: Forging Relationships to Maximize Personal and Professional Development, in Hispanic Health Care International, vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 226-236 (2008)