Dr. Peter Grayson and Dr. Kaitlin Quinn at the VF Bethesda Regional Conference in February. Photo: Ed Becker
by Kurt Ulman, Medical Writer
Rheumatologist Kaitlin Quinn, MD, is the recipient of the 2017 Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium – Vasculitis Foundation (VCRC-VF) Fellowship.
She received her medical degree from New York Medical College in Valhalla, New York. She completed her Internal Medicine residency and a two-year Rheumatology fellowship training program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. Dr. Quinn is currently serving as a junior faculty member in the Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy at Georgetown.
“Vasculitis initially sparked my interest in rheumatology,” she said. “I rotated through the rheumatology consult service as a medical intern. The most fascinating part of the rotation for me was the complexity of these patients.”
She sees many research and clinical opportunities in this area. The fellowship will help deepen her understanding of the disease and give mentorship opportunities needed to broaden her clinical skills and enable her to conduct investigational research.
PET Scans in Diagnosis and Treatment
One of Dr. Quinn’s goals is to look at how positive-emission tomography (PET) scans can impact the diagnosis and treatment of vasculitis. PET scans use a small amount of radioactive material attached to glucose to find areas of the body that are biologically active, such as inflamed vessels in the case of vasculitis.
Currently, it can be difficult to determine if a patient’s vasculitis is active. Normal laboratory values can be seen even when the disease isn’t in remission. The aim of this research is to give clinicians another diagnostic tool to help guide treatment decisions in patients with vasculitis.
“A key part of the fellowship is to allow further development of my clinical skills and management of vasculitis patients,” said Dr. Quinn. “The fellowship allows for professional growth and accruement of skills with the hope that I will eventually assume leadership of the vasculitis clinic at Georgetown and one day expand it to a formal vasculitis center that can participate in clinical trials.”
Dr. Peter C. Grayson is head of the Vasculitis Translational Research Program (VTRP) at The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He is serving as Dr. Quinn’s mentor during the Fellowship.
“There is a lot about Dr. Quinn’s fellowship that is unique,” said Dr. Grayson. “The NIH program frequently performs research studies on patients with vasculitis who otherwise receive clinical care in the vasculitis clinic at Georgetown run by Dr. Thomas Cupps.
Dr. Quinn’s fellowship will further strengthen the collaboration between our institutes and will help her to expand vasculitis-focused research initiatives at Georgetown.” Dr. Cupps is preparing to transfer patients to Dr. Quinn’s vasculitis clinic. The fellowship is a way to prepare Dr. Quinn to not only continue the clinic, but to build on Dr. Cupps’ work and elevate it to the next level as a vasculitis center.
“She will spend some of her time working at the VTRP, seeing patients and participating in research,” said Dr. Grayson. “This will give her more time to be a student of vasculitis on both the clinical and the research level.”
Dr. Quinn’s research projects should help enhance vasculitis treatment and research. Currently, imaging assessment of patients with large vessel vasculitis is difficult because there are no standardized guidelines.
“A major goal of Dr. Quinn’s project is to generate data that will inform the development of imaging studies guidelines in large vessel vasculitis,” said Dr. Grayson. “By studying the strengths and limitations of specific imaging modalities, including PET scans and angiography, we hope to provide guidance to physicians on how to use these tests effectively for clinical care purposes. We also want to test if imaging studies are useful as outcome measures in clinical trials.
The support of the VF gives us an opportunity to test how medications used to treat vasculitis affect both how a patient feels and how their blood vessels look on imaging studies.