2019 VCRC/VF Fellow Joins UPMC as Vasculitis Center Director

Note: Sebastian Sattui, MD, MS, completed his Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium-Vasculitis Foundation (VCRC-VF) fellowship at the end of June 2021. Dr. Sattui was at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City for four years and during the first two years, he focused on his general rheumatology training. The last two years, he concentrated on his vasculitis training sponsored by the VCRC-VF fellowship award. In his second and third years of training, he also completed a master’s degree in Clinical Epidemiology and Health Services Research at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences located in New York City. 

Dr. Sattui joined the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, on July 1, 2021, and serves as an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and as the Director of UPMC’s Vasculitis Center. His goal is to help build on the existing center by amplifying the work on three pillars: patient care, research, and education. “The center has existed for some time and was actively involved in VCRC research,” Dr. Sattui said. “Although I will have some general rheumatology practice, my main efforts and time will be devoted to clinical care and research in vasculitis and polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). The institution’s plan (and mine) is for me to work toward significant growth of our center to better take care and improve the lives of patients with vasculitis.”

For the patient care pillar, the aim is to continue to provide optimal and timely care to patients with vasculitis who will benefit from the integration of multiple specialties. UPMC is a large health system and there is already ongoing teamwork between the different centers of excellence and multidisciplinary services. “We’re going to capitalize on this to build an established multidisciplinary team for the management of vasculitis,” Dr. Sattui said. “Dr. Syeda Ahmad, from the Division of Renal-Electrolyte, is a glomerulonephritis-trained nephrologist and will be working in the center with us. We will continue to involve highly trained specialists for the care of patients.”

In terms of research, Dr. Sattui and the team plan to enhance the vasculitis center’s research infrastructure and collect longitudinal data to allow both internal and inter-institutional collaborative research. Although Dr. Sattui is initially focusing on PMR, giant cell arteritis (GCA), and anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody vasculitis, his work will extend to the whole spectrum of vasculitis. He is also working with the Vasculitis Patient-Powered Research Network (VPPRN) as the principal investigator for the VascStrong: Vasculitis Strength Study on frailty and vasculitis. “My research is focused on better understanding the process of frailty and other age-related conditions in patients with vasculitis, to better design interventions to prevent these conditions, and improve patients’ quality of life and secure a healthier aging in patients with vasculitis,” he said. John Stadler is the patient-partner/co-principal investigator for the VascStrong study. “I’m very pleased to work with Dr. Sattui, who is passionate in learning about the physical effects of vasculitis and quality of life,” he said. “I’m happy to see his sincere interest in this study and I hope it brings about ways to help patients maintain their physical abilities despite having vasculitis.”

To participate in the VascStrong study you need to be a member of the VPPRN first and you will then receive an invite to participate. You can join the VPPRN HERE. You can learn more about the VascStrong study HERE.

The vasculitis center will also participate in pharmaceutical trials, giving patients access to new therapeutics, which are key in the management and treatment of vasculitis. “Trials not only allow patients to have access to cutting-edge treatments, but also builds on the knowledge for the treatment of vasculitis and, most importantly, empowers patients to be part of this,” Dr. Sattui added.

The teaching and education component will be aimed at both physicians and patients/caregivers. There will be an effort to build the clinic by including trainees (students, residents, fellows) from the school of medicine by exposing them to patients with vasculitis to help them better understand these conditions, as well as take part in patient care. “My goal is to spark interest in young trainees in a similar way to what happened to me,” Dr. Sattui said. “We plan on giving talks to other specialists, focusing on the care of vasculitis patients, as well as to patients [themselves] through outreach and education programs with help of the VF.”

In addition to all this, as part of Dr. Sattui’s work with the VF, planning is underway for creating educational videos and materials in Spanish, to better reach Latinx patients and caregivers.

UPMC covers a large area that goes beyond western Pennsylvania and extends to West Virginia and Ohio. The UPMC Vasculitis Center will see patients with all forms of primary systemic vasculitis and work with local or other specialties as needed to provide individualized care. This includes patients with immunoglobulin G4-related disease and relapsing polychondritis. Patients can call and schedule appointments but referrals may be necessary, depending on individual insurance coverage. Dedicated urgent slots for GCA and other vasculitis referrals are available as well.

VascStrong Study is now closed.

UPMC Vasculitis Center
UPMC Lupus Center of Excellence
UPMC Shadyside Plaza
580 South Aiken Ave.
Suite 430
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

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