Dr. Alicia Rodriguez-Pla’s New Role: Director of the Vasculitis Program at Mayo Clinic Arizona

Alicia Rodriguez-Pla, MD, PhD, MPH, has taken on the role of Director of Mayo Clinic Arizona’s new vasculitis program. Set to launch in fall/winter 2020, the program will include a team of physicians from different specialties with expertise in all types of vasculitic diseases, delivering comprehensive and coordinated care.

The program will provide an integrated approach in the diagnosis and treatment of vasculitis patients, offering consultation services for Mayo Clinic Hospital patients, facilitating post-discharge and continuous care for patients living in Arizona and the Phoenix-metro area, and consulting with patients outside the state.

Co-leading the efforts are pulmonologist Rodrigo Cartin-Ceba, MD, and rheumatologist Lester Mertz, MD. The team will also include specialists in nephrology, otolaryngology, ophthalmology, neurology, dermatology and dermatology pathology, neurosurgery, vascular pathology, wound care, vascular medicine, and allergic diseases.

The goal is to develop a comprehensive vasculitis research program, focused on translational, epidemiological, and clinical research to improve understanding of the cause and development of these rare diseases, said Dr. Rodriguez-Pla. The team also hopes to conduct clinical trials to develop more targeted and less toxic therapeutic options, teach and train medical residents and fellows about vasculitis, and hold clinical conferences to discuss complex cases.

“I think there’s a clear need for a vasculitis center in the Southwest,” Dr. Rodriguez-Pla noted. “Scottsdale-Phoenix constitutes a large metropolitan area in expansion. Many patients from other regions are now moving and retiring to Arizona, and many have or could develop vasculitis,” she said.

The program will offer two types of clinic visits—one of which includes a comprehensive evaluation of out-of-state vasculitis patients. “For those patients, we plan to coordinate most of the visits with different specialists and their tests within four or five consecutive days,” Dr. Rodriguez-Pla said.

“We will also evaluate and follow local patients on a regular basis in clinic through advanced practitioners to help with the clinical demands of these patients, and assist with patient education and follow-up care,” she added.

The program is currently accepting vasculitis patients, whether they are referred by their primary care physician, a specialist, or self-referred. Patients can call the clinic’s general office number at 480-301-8368 to schedule an appointment.

Dr. Rodriguez-Pla was one of the first four rheumatologists awarded the Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium (VCRC)/Vasculitis Foundation (VF) fellowship. She completed the two-year, mentored training program through The Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center and then served as a clinical fellow in rheumatology at Boston University. She was then appointed Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, Rheumatology, University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, and was co-Founder/co-Director of the Scleroderma Center, and Founder/Director of the vasculitis center. She joined Mayo Clinic Arizona in October 2019 as Senior Associate Consultant in Rheumatology and Assistant Professor of Medicine.

Author: Nina Silberstein