Editor’s Note: Since we profiled her last year, Dr. Tanaz Kermani has completed her vasculitis fellowship program through the Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium (VCRC). She has relocated from the Mayo Clinic to UCLA. She is building her clinical practice there and hopes to embark on research projects in the future. In the meantime, she remains involved in the projects she started with her mentors at Mayo and the VCRC.
I joined the faculty in the Division of Rheumatology at UCLA in February 2012. In general, there is still an unmet need for centers with expertise in vasculitis on the West Coast. This was a great opportunity for me to bring my experiences from my previous training at Mayo Clinic and the two-year fellowship with the VCRC.
As a clinician-educator, I enjoy spending my time in patient care and educating physicians-in-training. Whenever I mention my interest in vasculitis, our residents and fellows are intrigued and start asking questions. Educating them on how to recognize, evaluate and treat a patient with vasculitis is important and rewarding. I also have opportunities to raise awareness about vasculitis to the non-medical community via health talks sponsored by UCLA.
My current focus is to build a practice in rheumatology with an emphasis in vasculitis. Being part of an outstanding academic center like UCLA means that patients have access to an integrated approach with multiple specialists who are adept at caring for people with complex conditions.
Through my work at Mayo Clinic, I have developed an interest in large-artery complications like stenosis (narrowing of arteries) or aneurysms (ballooning of arteries) which can occur in patients with giant cell arteritis (GCA). We still don’t understand why only some patients with GCA develop these complications. We recently found that aortic complications have important prognostic implications for patients with GCA. Most experts agree that patients with GCA should be evaluated for complications, but we are still working on what is the best way to do this. Imaging (CT and MR scans) of the large vessels has been an area of active research and in the last decade. In fact, through these imaging studies, we’ve realized that the vasculitis in GCA affects multiple large arteries that may not be symptomatic but the clinical significance of this finding is not completely understood. We also clearly need better treatment alternatives for our patients with GCA. At present, prednisone and other “steroids” are the mainstay of treatment but have a lot of side-effects. With the research on mechanisms of inflammation in GCA and the availability of new medications targeting certain molecules (cytokines) in rheumatology, we are hopefully closer to finding new treatment options.
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