Introducing Dr. Rebecca Manno
The challenge of working with multi-system diseases appeals to Rebecca Manno, assistant professor of medicine, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University. This systemic approach to medicine is what helped her decide on her specialty.
“There are many gaps in our knowledge regarding the cause of autoimmune diseases, such as vasculitis and the best way to treat,” she says. “Hence, the need for ongoing research.”
But she’s also drawn to the patients. “It’s a privilege to become a part of their lives and care team.”
Filling the Gaps
Manno’s research interest is in geriatric rheumatology, and she has a particular interest in older patients with systemic vasculitis. She focuses on “the impact of systemic inflammatory diseases on the musculoskeletal system and the effect of resistance exercise on disease markers and overall health in older individuals with vasculitis,” she explains.
Patients with vasculitis often experience weakness that can be made even worse with some treatments like steroids. Manno’s research investigates how this relates to muscle quality and function and how the condition could be treated with exercise.
“Thus far my work has focused on body composition, functional status and quality of life in patients with giant cell arteritis,” Manno explains. “I also will be exploring the impact of resistance exercise on sarcopenia — muscle loss — associated with vasculitis in older patients.”
Manno grew up in New Jersey, the daughter of a lawyer and a writer. As a child, she played lacrosse and enjoyed debating. She thought she might want to become a veterinarian, and though she ended up treating people not pets, she still has an interest in animals. “I support many animal rescue groups and volunteer at local animal shelters,” she notes. She also enjoys boating on Chesapeake Bay.
In school, she found the “precision of human medicine and science too interesting and challenging to pass up”. She attended college at Johns Hopkins University and received her MD from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She completed her internal medicine residency at University of Maryland (UMMS), including an additional year as Chief Resident at UMMS and the Baltimore Veterans Medical Center. She returned to Johns Hopkins to complete a fellowship in rheumatology and earn a master’s in health science degree in clinical investigation from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Manno says the work of the VF is important. “The Vasculitis Foundation is an incredibly valuable resource for our patients and their families,” she says. “These are rare, life-altering diseases and the VF provides quality information, support, and guidance for our patients as they navigate through the challenges of their illness.”
She also values the VF’s involvement in scientific research that “contributes to major advances in the care of our patients,” she explains. “We are very grateful.”