Roger Yang, MD, began his Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium (VCRC)-Vasculitis Foundation (VF) Fellowship in September 2022. Dr. Yang’s training through the Penn Vasculitis Center at the University of Pennsylvania will focus on both clinical care of patients with all forms of vasculitis and research on the diseases. As vasculitis may affect blood vessels of any size, there is a wide spectrum of multisystemic manifestations, with possible involvement of vital organs, requiring individualized management among these patients. The Penn Vasculitis Center is among the world’s largest clinical and research program focused on vasculitis.
Dr. Yang’s goal during his VCRC-VF Fellowship is to be exposed to a large number of cases of vasculitis including initial evaluation and diagnosis, acute management, and longer follow-up care. He seeks to develop the clinical expertise needed to help him establish his own vasculitis center. For 10-months Dr. Yang will work under the guidance of several faculty members in the Penn Vasculitis Center, including Shubhasree Banerjee, MD, Peter Merkel, MD, MPH, Rennie Rhee, MD, MSCE, and Ms. Naomi Amudala, CRNP, another expert clinician in the center. Dr. Banerjee is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, Dr. Merkel is the Chief of the Division of Rheumatology and a Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology, and Dr. Rhee is an Assistant Professor of Medicine.
Before starting his VCRC-VF Fellowship, Dr. Yang completed an internal medicine residency followed by a rheumatology fellowship at the University of Montreal in Quebec, Canada. “My interest in research is reflected through my various projects ranging from a literature review on antibodies in systemic sclerosis and a retrospective study on fractures in rheumatoid arthritis to a cross-sectional study on the management of giant cell arteritis across Canada,’’ Dr. Yang explained. “However, I wish to develop my research skills further and learn from experts in the field to collaborate on studies of high caliber.”
Dr. Yang recently finished writing a review manuscript on “Systematic Manifestations of Giant Cell Arteritis” with Dr. Rhee that will be published in International Ophthalmology Clinics later this year. Additionally, he is currently working on two original research projects: 1) Effectiveness of treatment of sinonasal involvement in patients with granulomatosis with polyangiitis” also with Dr. Rhee, and 2) an analysis of immunomodulatory treatments for patients with relapsing polychondritis utilizing longitudinal cross-sectional data from the VCRC database, under the direction of Dr. Banerjee.
Dr. Yang sees the VCRC-VF Fellowship as not only offering him exposure to the clinical skills and expertise needed for his future practice in vasculitis, but also introducing him to more in-depth research involving ongoing clinical trials, a vast database, and new projects being conducted by the large research team at the University of Pennsylvania Vasculitis Center. “We are delighted to be hosting Dr. Yang for his vasculitis fellowship and appreciate his intellectual curiosity, growing expertise in the evaluation and management of patients with vasculitis, and eagerness to conduct clinical research that addresses important questions about vasculitis,” said Dr. Merkel.
After completing his VCRC-VF Fellowship, Dr. Yang will begin another fellowship in September 2023 for four months under the direction of Andreas Diamantopoulos, MD, PhD, MPH, in ultrasound imaging for the diagnosis of large-vessel vasculitis that will focus on giant cell arteritis (GCA/temporal arteritis) and Takayasu arteritis. Dr. Diamantopoulos is a consultant in the Department of Rheumatology at the Akershus University Hospital in Oslo, Norway, and he has a deep and long-standing interest in musculoskeletal and vascular ultrasound. He is also the founder and director of the International Ultrasound Workshop in Large-Vessel Vasculitis in Kristiansand, Norway.
After the completion of his fellowships, Dr. Yang will join the Rheumatology Department at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont in Montreal, affiliated with the University of Montreal. In 2024 he plans to set up a formal vasculitis clinic at the hospital to manage these complex patients and introduce the use of ultrasound of large arteries—an emerging diagnostic tool in vasculitis.
“I want to establish multidisciplinary clinics and meet with the nephrology, pulmonology, dermatology and internal medicine teams to optimize the management of vasculitis with multisystemic involvement,” Dr. Yang added. He intends to join the rheumatology team’s weekly ultrasound clinic to diagnose new cases and exacerbations of temporal arteritis as quickly as possible with the goal of establishing a fast-track clinic for GCA, focusing on early diagnosis and management of the disease.
“Since the start of my medical training, the specialty of rheumatology has always appealed to me,” Dr. Yang said. “I have always been passionate about caring for complex and acute cases throughout my internal medicine training where patients often require brief hospitalization and care from a multidisciplinary team.” Dr. Yang also wishes to pursue an academic career and contribute to scientific advances in vasculitis.
Author: Nina Silberstein