VF in the News

2014 Vasculitis Foundation Fellowship Recipient


The Vasculitis Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Rennie Rhee, University of Pennsylvania, as the 2014 Vasculitis Foundation Fellowship Recipient. The Vasculitis Fellowship Program is made possible by the generous support of our donors. Thank you for your support.

Click here to watch an interview with Dr. Rhee.

Introducing Dr. Rennie Rhee

Dr. Rhee’s strong personal qualities, enthusiasm to understand vasculitis, and sophisticated and interesting research agenda make her an excellent choice for this fellowship. I’m privileged to mentor this intelligent and motivated researcher and am confident that she has the skills, desire, and opportunity to develop into a highly successful clinical investigator in vasculitis. She came to the University of Pennsylvania for her Rheumatology fellowship with the specific goal of pursuing training in clinical research. Now with the VF fellowship, she can continue to develop as a researcher and pursue goal of becoming an expert clinician in vasculitis. She is among the best Rheumatology fellows I have had the pleasure of working with. I am certain Dr. Rhee will have a productive career as a patient-oriented researcher in the field of vasculitis.

~Dr. Peter Merkel, Chief of the Division of Rheumatology and Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology, the University of Pennsylvania

“What drives me is knowing that I can make a positive impact on someone’s life.”

“I was always a bit of a science nerd so becoming a physician seemed like a natural application of that,” admits Rennie Rhee, MD, recipient of the 2014 Vasculitis Foundation Fellowship. She initially thought she’d become a primary care physician because she was interested in forming long-term relationships with patients. “As I learned more about rheumatology and the complexity of rheumatic diseases, I realized this was the area that fit me best,” she says.

The specialty enables her to pursue a robust research agenda and continue to work with patients. “The most rewarding part of my work is seeing patients get better—I think any physician would say the same,” she notes. “Whether I’m at the bedside or doing research, what drives me is knowing that I can make a positive impact on someone’s life.”

Rhee focused on vasculitis in part because there is so much still to be learned. “There are so many unanswered questions, which is enticing as a researcher,” she says.

Now an investigator at the University of Pennsylvania, Rhee works with Dr. Peter Merkel and Dr. Antoine Sreih, among others, to understand more about vasculitis. In particular, Rhee hopes to determine whether outcomes, such as survival and development of end-stage renal disease, are improving in patients with ANCA-associated vasculitis over the past 25 years. She also is interested in the impact of early diagnosis and treatment advances on these outcomes.

“Understanding the past helps us move forward,” she explains. “We want to know if all the advances in the field of vasculitis are translating into improvements in patient-important outcomes in a real-world setting. We can also evaluate which has had a larger contribution to better outcomes: earlier diagnosis or advances in therapy. Understanding this will help identify areas in need of more research.”

The VF fellowship is a difference-maker for researchers early in their careers. “I feel incredibly honored to have received this fellowship,” Rhee says. “As a young investigator, studying a rare disease such as vasculitis is challenging particularly in this financial climate. Yet I feel there is such a great need to better understand this disease. Obtaining this fellowship will provide me the needed training and mentoring to continue contributing to this field and ultimately benefit the many patients diagnosed with vasculitis. I also have the privilege to work with world-renown experts in the field who can train me in both clinical management and research investigation.”

Click here to learn more about the Vasculitis Foundation Fellowship Program.