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Rheumatology Education and Training

From division chiefs to professors of medicine, many leaders across the field trained at Brigham and Women's Hospital. At the Division of Rheumatology, Inflammation, and Immunity, we are proud to extend this legacy through our fellowship training program, along with educational courses on rheumatologic and musculoskeletal research.

Rheumatology and Immunology Fellowship Training Program

Program Director Simon M. Helfgott, MD, leads our three-year fellowship training program, designed for individuals with an MD or MD/PhD who seek to be at the forefront of rheumatologic clinical care, basic science research and clinical science research. Since its inception in 1974, the program has trained academic rheumatologists and basic and clinical scientists who are experts and leaders in the treatment of rheumatic diseases.

As a fellow here, you will engage in an intensive program that focuses on the acquisition of clinical, diagnostic and therapeutic skills. You will emerge as a highly skilled expert in the field of rheumatology and inflammation.

With over 60 full-time faculty, ours is one of the nation's largest rheumatology programs. Our rich academic environment provides a wealth of clinical and research opportunities. Our faculty are strongly committed to providing mentoring opportunities for trainees. Most importantly, our program is close-knit, collegial and supportive, helping you to achieve your personal and professional goals.

To learn more about the Brigham Rheumatology Fellowship, or to apply, please email Dr. Helfgott.

Year 1

You will spend your first year of training immersed in clinical rheumatology, both on the Brigham Consult Service and in our clinics. During the year, you will spend about 16 to 18 weeks on the Consult Service, a busy service that averages 15 to 20 new referrals per week. We draw patients from the Brigham, an 800-bed hospital that has large cardiology, oncology and general medical services.

In addition to the Consult Service, you will establish two weekly continuity clinics in rheumatology — one on campus and the other at one of our satellite locations. In these clinics, you will follow your cohort of patients for the entirety of your training.

You will also rotate through several of our specialized rheumatology-focused care clinics, which cover interstitial lung disease, dermatology, oncology, neurology, spine, VA and pediatric-to-adult rheumatologic care. Fellows may gain additional expertise by working in our lupus and vasculitis clinics. We also provide opportunities to acquire skills in diagnostic ultrasound.

Finally, the program director will work with you to identify a research mentor for the following two years of fellowship. You may join a research laboratory as early as the first year, with the understanding that clinical responsibilities remain the primary focus of that year.

Years 2-3

The second and third years of fellowship are primarily devoted to pursuing independent research projects in conjunction with basic or clinical research mentors along with continuity clinics. During this period, you will join the research lab that you selected in your first year. You will spend less time on the inpatient Consult Service during this period of time.

Research training encompasses a broad spectrum of basic, translational and clinical science techniques and concepts, including molecular and cellular immunology, genomics and other big data," cellular metabolism and bone/joint biology. Both animal models and human samples are utilized, the latter often obtained from large, hospital and division-managed biobanks. Through their mentors, clinical research fellows are able to access rich datasets, including electronic medical records, cohort studies, disease registries and administrative claims databases.

Visit our Research page to learn about our faculty and their research labs.

VERITY Courses

Director Daniel H. Solomon, MD, MPH, and Associate Director Jeffrey A. Sparks, MD, MMSC, head the educational component of Value and Evidence in Rheumatology using bioinformaTics and advanced analYtics (VERITY). The group trains and mentors early-career translational and clinical investigators in conducting rheumatologic and musculoskeletal research that has a direct impact on patient care.

VERITY periodically offers educational courses to bring the Brigham's expertise in rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases to a wider community. These multi-day events are led by Brigham faculty who are international leaders in the field and donate their time to nurture the next generation of investigators. The courses, which feature a mix of didactic, small-group and one-on-one sessions, cover topics such as research methods, scientific writing and grantsmanship.

Early investigators who participate in VERITY courses are typically fellows or junior faculty interested in pursuing a career in investigation. They often refine their own research projects or grants with expert feedback from VERITY faculty.

The first VERITY course in 2018 hosted 15 participants from throughout the country for a six-day immersive experience at the Brigham. The second VERITY course, which took place virtually in 2020, drew over 75 virtual participants from five continents for a four-day experience. VERITY will continue to offer courses periodically to support bright young investigators pursuing a career in rheumatologic and musculoskeletal research.

Current Fellows and Recent Graduates

First Year Fellows

Gregory McDermott, MD, received his medical degree from Cornell University and completed his internal medicine residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. His fascination with immunology and rheumatology started in medical school, and he is especially interested in patients with systemic autoimmune disease that affects multiple organs. His research background is in the development of genetic testing to enhance the care of patients with inherited diseases and cancer. He is eager to apply similar techniques to better understand the mechanisms of autoimmunity and improve treatments for patients with rheumatic disease.

Michelle Robinette, MD, PhD, completed her graduate and medical degrees at Washington University in St. Louis prior to her internal medicine residency at the Brigham. During her graduate work in immunology, Dr. Robinette studied a class of cytokine-producing cells called innate lymphoid cells that reside in tissues and trigger the early immune response to tissue damage. She is particularly interested in mechanisms by which well-recognized epidemiologic drivers of autoimmunity — such as primary immunodeficiency, cancer and aging — hijack the normal immune response and lead to the development of autoimmune disease. Her ultimate goal is to develop better treatments for patients with rheumatic disease.

Second Year Fellows

Tiffany Hsu, MD, PhD, is studying the regulation of innate immune sensors that detect self or non-self nucleic acids. She works in the labs of Drs. Sun Hur at Boston Children's Hospital and Ellen Gravallese at the Brigham, where her mechanistic studies will inform the development of diagnostic assays and small-molecule drug discovery platforms to tackle diseases like lupus.

Siobhan Case MD, MHS, is a combined medicine-pediatrics fellow in rheumatology at both the Brigham and Boston Children's Hospital. She provides care for patients with autoimmune diseases as they transition from pediatric to adult care, including through the Center for Adults with Pediatric Rheumatic Illness, led by Dr. Peter Nigrovic. Her research with mentors including Drs. Karen Costenbader, Candace Feldman and Mary Beth Son is aimed at improving care for patients with childhood-onset rheumatic disease.

Third Year Fellows

Amy ("Kiki") Cunningham-Bussel, MD, PhD, is pursuing a career at the intersection of rheumatology and oncology. Immunotherapy unleashes the body's defenses to destroy tumors but can also create autoimmune issues such as inflammatory arthritis as a side effect. Dr. Cunningham-Bussel is investigating rheumatic immune-related adverse events that occur after immunotherapy given for cancer treatment, such as immune checkpoint inhibitors. She is also collecting data to shed light on who is susceptible to these conditions and how best to treat them. Under the guidance of Dr. Jeffrey Sparks, she is performing epidemiologic and patient-oriented studies to understand risk and outcomes of rheumatic immune-related adverse events.

Alisa Mueller, MD, PhD, is working in Dr. Michael Brenner's lab, where she uses her expertise in regenerative medicine to investigate the biology of fibroblast populations in synovium and characterize their impact on tissue maintenance and disease pathology. This knowledge will serve as the foundation for developing novel disease diagnostics and creating new biologic and stem cell-based therapies.

Jessica Williams, MD, MPH, is especially interested in examining outcomes in patients with lupus and studying healthcare disparities in that population. She is working with Dr. Karen Costenbader, director of the Brigham's Lupus Center, to conduct research aimed at identifying risk factors and novel therapeutics for autoimmune diseases. In addition, she is working with Dr. Candace Feldman to identify socioeconomic disparities in the delivery of healthcare for women with lupus.

Recent Graduates

Medha Barbhaiya, MD, MPH
Hometown: Glasgow, Scotland
Medical School: Weill Cornell Medical College
Residency: New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY

Sarah Kim Chen, MD, MPH
Hometown
: Los Angeles, CA
Medical School: University of California, Los Angeles
Residency: Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital

Amish Dave, MD, MPH
Hometown
: Bloomingdale, IL
Medical School: University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, IL
Residency: Stanford

Julia Ford, MD
Hometown
: Detroit, MI
Medical School: Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA
Residency: Brigham

Paul Hoover, MD, PhD
Hometown
: Tucson, AZ
Medical School: Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto & San Francisco, CA
Residency: Brigham

Selena Huang, MD, MS
Hometown: Shenyang, China
Medical School: University of Toronto
Residency: Vancouver Coastal Health

Anna (Helena) Jonsson, MD, PhD
Hometown: Sweden
Medical School: Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
Residency: Brigham

Cianna Leatherwood, MD, MPH
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Medical School: Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Residency: University of Southern California

Lindsey MacFarlane, MD, MPH
Hometown: Acton, MA
Medical School: Albany Medical College, Albany, NY
Residency: Brigham

Erin Penn, MD
Hometown: Poughkeepsie, NY
Medical School: Sidney Kimmel School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA
Residency: Brigham

Deepak Rao, MD, PhD
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Medical School: Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
Residency: Brigham

Sara Tedeschi, MD, MPH
Hometown: Livingston, NJ
Medical School: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN
Residency: Brigham

Kevin Wei, MD, PhD
Hometown
: Houston, TX
Medical School: Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto & San Francisco, CA
Residency: Brigham

Nicole Yang, MD
Hometown: Acton, MA
Medical School: Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore
Residency: Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island

MaryAnn Zhang, MD, MPH
Hometown: Fort Wayne, IN
Medical School: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY
Residency: Boston University Medical Center

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