The Vasculitis Foundation held its annual membership meeting on June 21 in Jacksonville, Florida. The meeting was held in conjunction with the 2015 International Vasculitis Symposium which drew over 220 patients with vasculitis, their families and health care professionals. During the meeting the VF membership elected three new members to its board of directors, including two physician-scientists and a psychologist. All three of the new board members embody the spirit of community and bring talent, expertise, and energy to the VF.
Dr. Jeffrey Fishbein is a clinical and sports psychologist with Fishbein Performance Consulting in Deerfield, Illinois. Dr. Fishbein works with individuals, families, athletes and teams on overcoming adversities in their lives, among many other things of course. He teaches others the need to find the positive in an otherwise negative event, to interpret life events optimistically, and to find purpose and meaning in the most uncertain times. Dr. Fishbein also writes the column Fish’s Focus on Health for the VF website and bimonthly newsletter. He and his family will host the Second Annual Golf Open on September 2, 2015 in Chicago. The 2014 Golf Open raised almost $75,000 for the VF’s Fellowship and Research Programs.
Dr. Peter Grayson is the Assistant Clinical Investigator at the National Institutes of Health and director of the NIAMS Vasculitis Translational Research Program in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Grayson is interested in whole-genome gene expression profiling made possible by bioinformatics, the acquisition, analysis and interpretation of large volumes of biological data. The goal of this emerging field of study is to discover novel aspects of disease. “We’re able to study what’s happening at the molecular level inside specific groups of cells by profiling the expression of 30,000 genes simultaneously within those cells,” he explains. “It will redefine what we know about vasculitis and other diseases over the next few decades.” Dr. Grayson hopes his new position at the NIH will create opportunities for vasculitis patients to participate in the institute’s cutting-edge research.
Dr. Jason Springer is the director of the newly opened Vasculitis Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The center includes a group of sub specialists with an interest in vasculitis. Dr. Springer has also organized educational vasculitis meetings for other physicians at the university and recently presented at the KU Department of Medicine Grand Rounds regarding Giant Cell Arteritis and the Nephrology Research Conference regarding ‘Updates in ANCA-associated Vasculitis’. He is currently involved in both translational and epidemiologic studies in the field of vasculitis at KU.
Also returning to the board of directors are Grace Eisen, RN, MSN, Karen Hirsch and Bob Sahs.
Grace Eisen joined the VF Board of Directors in 2009 and served as president from 2013-2015. She has worked as a staff nurse and is on the faculty of the MidMichigan Community College Nursing School. She was diagnosed with Wegener’s in 2004 and has been actively involved in the VF as a chapter leader, area contact, Education and Awareness Council member and board member. Her goal is to support and educate patients with vasculitis and their families so they may acquire improved quality of life. She has given several presentations to nursing organizations to raise awareness and understanding of vasculitis in the medical community.
Karen Hirsch joined the VF Board of Directors in 2012 after a family member was diagnosed with GPA/Wegener’s. She has a background in health care administration and coordinated strategic planning and marketing at Children’s Memorial Hospital and was previously at Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center and the Illinois Hospital Association. In 2013 she created the annual V-RED Award, which recognizes early diagnosis of vasculitis in our patient community. The annual competition seeks nominations from patients honoring the physicians who helped them get diagnosed with vasculitis.
Bob Sahs joined the board in 2006. He is retired from his position as sales and marketing representative in the textile industry and as former owner of “All About Golf”, a golf accessory distributorship. Bob is a “Snowbird” – spending summer months in New Jersey and winter months in Florida playing golf with his lovely wife Elaine; a vasculitis survivor since 1999. In addition to being an avid golfer and caregiver to Elaine, Bob, a Vietnam Veteran, spends his retirement years doing volunteer work for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Kiwanis International, and the Vasculitis Foundation.