There are numerous reasons for me to be very pleased to re-introduce Dr. Eamonn Molloy to the VF readership. First, Eamonn is among a still small group of doctors world-wide who are dedicated to the care of patients with vasculitis. Indeed, he is the only formally trained vasculitis specialist in all of Ireland. Second, I know him to be a superb care provider. We would like to believe that is in large measure related to learning his vasculitis skills over 3 years in our Center. But that would be over-stating our impact. Eamonn came to Cleveland already quite accomplished and only his parents can take credit for his IQ and charming personality. During his time with us, we came to know him as a most effective teacher and predicted the impact he is now having in training other doctors. Add to that, Eamonn is also an excellent researcher, who earned an additional degree in Clinical Research during his stay in the US.
Dr. Molloy’s vasculitis research interests include new drug evaluation and utility, unusual infections caused by certain immunosuppressive treatments, markers of disease activity and remission and changes in the biology of affected blood vessels upon inflammatory injury.
He is eager to meet and serve new patients who heretofore may have not had access to vasculitis specialty care. As his once academic “parents”, then colleagues and now students and collaborators, we look forward to seeing the tremendous impact he will have in serving you, our vasculitis patients.—
Gary S. Hoffman, MD, MS, MACR
Cleveland Clinic, Lerner College of MedicineProfessor of Medicine
Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Diseases
Center for Vasculitis Care and Research
After returning to Ireland in 2010, Eamonn Molloy established a vasculitis clinic and began forming a collaborative group of clinicians and researchers interested in vasculitis. To date, the vasculitis clinic at Dublin’s St. Vincent’s University Hospital has seen more than 200 vasculitis patients.
“For many years, Prof. Con Feighery in St James’ Hospital was the standard-bearer for Irish vasculitis research, performing translational research and participating in many EUVAS clinical trials,” explains Molloy, consultant rheumatologist and the clinic’s head. “Now that there are a number of other interested clinicians, an Irish vasculitis network is taking shape, with the aim of developing a national vasculitis registry and increasing participation in multi-center studies, including randomized controlled trials of new therapies for vasculitis. The registry can help us generate epidemiologic data for Ireland, which may help leverage dedicated funding for vasculitis centers of expertise.”
Focusing on GCA
Exposure to patients with vasculitis and the complex diagnostic and therapeutic challenges they provide was a major factor in Molloy’s decision to pursue a rheumatology fellowship in Ireland. He then undertook a vasculitis fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic and earned an MS in clinical research from Case Western Reserve, funded in part by the Vasculitis Foundation. Molloy later worked at the Center for Vasculitis Care and Research and Center for Clinical Immunology at the Cleveland Clinic.
Molloy’s current translational research focus is giant cell arteritis (GCA), in collaboration with Prof. Conor Murphy (ophthalmology) and Dr Ursula Fearon (rheumatology). GCA is the most common form of primary systemic vasculitis.
“There are significant unmet needs in GCA, including more accurate markers of disease activity, and the identification of safe and efficacious treatments to minimize steroid use,” he notes. “With a better understanding of the pathogenesis of the disease, these unmet needs can be addressed. Our prospective GCA registry recruited 40 newly diagnosed GCA patients in the first 12 months.
We are obtaining fresh temporal artery specimens and serum, PBMC and DNA on all patients,” Molloy says. “laboratory work to date has focused on establishing a novel ex vivo temporal artery culture model, which is being used to investigate inflammatory and angiogenic mechanisms in GCA.”
Assisting patients and families
Molloy also collaborates outside the medical community, working with Irish vasculitis patient and advocate Julie Power, who has GPA (Wegener’s).
“Julie has been the driving force behind Vasculitis Ireland Awareness, a support group for vasculitis patients and their families in Ireland,” Molloy says. “The issues patients face are myriad, including coping with a chronic illness, side effects of medication, the worry about the potential for relapse, the loss or change in employment and reduced income, and reduced ability to participate in family activities and hobbies. All are compounded by the lack of awareness among the general public and many physicians about vasculitis, which can contribute to a lack of understanding by employers, neighbors and the wider community. The key value of patient support groups is to help patients with vasculitis and their families realize that others share these experiences and to help to deal with them. I encourage my patients to connect with Julie’s group and many have found this support very helpful in dealing with their vasculitis.”
Molloy is an avowed optimist and sees many opportunities for better care and understanding going forward. “Major advances in the field of vasculitis have ensued from the collaborative work of clinicians, researchers and patients and in particular networks such as EUVAS and VCRC,” he says. “The outcome of the planned randomized trial of tocilizumab for treatment of GCA will be of great interest, given the dearth of proven therapies currently available. I believe much more is yet to come.”