Introducing Dr. Antoine Sreih
The Vasculitis Foundation is pleased to introduce Dr. Antoine G. Sreih, MD, University of Pennsylvania, to our community.
For Tony Sreih, curiosity about the most challenging and interesting medical conditions led to a career in rheumatology.
“Some of the most difficult cases in which nobody knew what was going on ended up being rheumatology cases,” recalls Sreih (pronounced shry). “And in rheumatology, the most interesting and challenging cases frequently are vasculitis. So in a way, rheumatology felt to me like the Sherlock Holmes of medicine.”
“Vasculitis is a rare disease and many physicians and even many community rheumatologists do not feel comfortable managing and treating vasculitis,” Sreih explains. “Knowing that there are physicians that are familiar and confident about recognizing, managing and treating vasculitis and its complications, and providing the latest therapies is of major importance to patients and their families.”
Finding his calling
Born and raised in Lebanon, Sreih grew up wanting to be a priest. “My family was very religious — my aunt was a nun — and I loved going to mass and participating in religious rituals,” he recounts. “I don’t know what exactly changed my mind, but I wanted to help people around me. I figured if I cannot help them spiritually I might as well help them physically.”
Sreih attended medical school at the Lebanese university in Beirut. Based on the French academic system, he entered medical school right out of high school and studied for 7 years. He was an internist and full-time faculty member at Yale University before doing a rheumatology fellowship there from 2005 to 2009. His research focused on the genetics of autoimmune diseases and vasculitis.
Researching causes and treatments
“If we can determine how race and genes may affect disease manifestation or potential response to therapy, it will help us avoid unnecessary therapies or side effects and anticipate the course of the disease,” Sreih notes. “This will also lead to a customized approach to patient care instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. In addition, determining genes that can influence disease incidence may help us predict and potentially prevent disease in high-risk patients.”
He’s also confident that more connections between infections and vasculitis will be identified. “We are going to hear more and more about infections as a possible cause for vasculitis,” he predicts. “We already know about a few infections causing vasculitis — like hepatitis B causing polyarteritis nodosa or hepatitis C causing cryoglobulinemic vasculitis. This is important because that means you can treat vasculitis with antibiotics/antivirals and potentially cure it.” He also expects we’ll see more use of biologic therapies for different types of vasculitis.
“I am fascinated by how similar yet how unique we are in terms of disease manifestation, progression, and response to therapy,” he explains. “This is what gives me the push to learn more and more about it. There is a huge need in vasculitis and vasculitis awareness. We need to encourage more rheumatologists in specializing in vasculitis.”