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Our People – Rheumatology

Summary

Education around rheumatic diseases for undergraduate and postgraduate trainees. Continuing education for other physicians for learning/education issues.

Profiles


Keywords

Rheumatology; arthritis; Sjögren syndrome

Profiles

Keywords

Vasculitis, musculoskeletal disorders, rheumatology, chronic pain

Profiles

Summary

My translational research laboratory focuses on understanding psoriatic arthritis aetiopathogenesis, with a particular emphasis on untargeted, global discovery of novel biomarkers using high throughput technologies. We have deciphered the proteomes of synovial fluid and skin biopsies from psoriatic disease patients using mass spectrometry and verified promising biomarkers in the serum that can distinguish PsA from psoriasis without PsA. Our focus now is to develop a diagnostic test for PsA using an integrated omics approach. I have also identified promising genetic markers of severe joint damage (arthritis mutilans) in PsA. Ongoing projects include studies on the function of macrophages and neutrophils in the synovial fluid, the serum and skin metabolome as well as the skin microbiome of patients with psoriatic disease.

Team Members

  • Katerina Oikinomopoulou, Scientific Associate
  • Fatima Abji, Laboratory Technician
  • Rohan Machhar, Laboratory Technician
  • Julie Gagnier, Biobanking Technician
  • Sara Rahmati, Post Doctoral Fellow
  • Meital Yerushalmi, PhD Candidate
  • Jehan Nazri, MSc Candidate
  • Daniel Pereira, Research Associate
  • Sutha Shanmugarajah, Clinical Research Coordinator
  • Ebrahim Aslani, Research Analyst
  • Maria Eraso, Research Analyst
  • Mohamed Ali Rida, Clinical Fellow
  • Ashish Mathew, Clinical Fellow
  • Vanessa Ocampo , Clinical Fellow

Keywords

Psoriatic arthritis; genomics; proteomics; metabolomics; macrophage

Research Lab

The University of Toronto Psoriatric Disease Research Program

Profiles

Summary

My research activities span both clinical and translational research with a focus on Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). In both programs the focus is on outcome measures, prognosis studies, identifying biomarkers for disease susceptibility and expression, with the aim of identifying targets for treatment. These areas required development of specialized clinics for these conditions with standardized data collection forms, web-based databases to track all the information collected, with a connection to the laboratory data. In order to address many of the research questions collaborations with other researchers were facilitated through development of international collaborative groups in both lupus and psoriatic arthritis. Through these collaborations enhanced numbers allowed us to perform genome wide association studies.

Team Members

Wet Lab

  • Fatima Abji, Laboratory Technician, Lab Manager
  • Rohan Macchar, Laboratory Technician
  • Nick Emmeth Garrido, Masters Student
  • Julie Gagnier, Biobanking Technician
  • Hang Bach, Technical Assistant

Dry Lab

  • Daniel Pereira, Research Associate
  • Steve Ramkissoon, Webbase Database Manager
  • Sutha Shanmugarajah, Clinical Research Coordinator
  • Elham Moez, Biostatistician
  • Ebrahim Aslani, Clinical Research Analyst
  • Maria Morales, Administrator IPART, SPARCC
  • Maria Eraso, Clinical Research Analyst
  • Navneet Arora, Clinical Trials Nurse
  • Jennifer Dutra, Clinical Trials Analyst
  • Anne MacKinnon, Administrator, Centre for Prognosis Studies
  • Heather Bailey, Administrative Assistant
  • Dr. Vanessa Ocampo, Masters Student
  • Muhamad Ali Rida, Clinical Fellow
  • Debanjali Sinha, Clinical Fellow

Keywords

Psoriatic arthritis; systemic lupus erythematosus; genetics; biomarkers; epigenetics

Research Lab

The University of Toronto Psoriatric Disease Research Program

Profiles

Summary

Back pain is one of the two top causes of disability according to the Centre for Disease Control. Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is the most common spinal inflammatory arthritis causing back pain.

Mission: Our research program will discover and translate important lessons in pathogenesis to improve treatment of AS. We will train HQP with excellence, integrity and passion.

Vision: Our program will be known for discoveries that lead to the development of novel therapeutics and biomarkers that improve the lives of people living with AS.

Goals: Towards a better understanding of AS pathogenesis we will follow our multiple successes using a multipronged approach of in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo studies in animal models and patients.

Team Members

  • Zhenbo Zhang, PhD, PDF
  • Ayantika Talukdar, PhD, PDF
  • Ejaz Pathan, MBBS, MRCP, PhD, Clinical Research Fellow
  • Akihiro Nakamura, MD, PhD Student and Clinical Research Fellow
  • Archita Srinath, BSc, MSc Student
  • Sayaka Nakamura, MD, PDF
  • Shaghayegh Foroozan Boroojeni, MSc, PhD student

Keywords

Arthritis; spondylitis; antigen presentation; immunology; genetics

Research Lab

Nigil Haroon

Profiles

Summary

Dr. Johnson is Director of the Toronto Scleroderma Program. The Toronto Scleroderma Program is a health care network and quaternary referral center which sees approximately 700 patients with the scleroderma spectrum of disorders annually. She actively engages in translational and clinical research with the goals of improving our understanding of this disease, finding better treatments, and improving patients' lives. She conducts clinical trials studying novel therapies for scleroderma. The program provides advanced training to graduate students, international fellows, and allied health professionals who wish to develop expertise in this area.

Internationally, Dr. Johnson leads large multinational studies and holds leadership positions for the American College of Rheumatology. She holds salary awards and grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Team Members

  • Keshini Devakandan, Clinical Research Analyst
  • Rosa Tavares, Administrative Assistant
  • Jewel Ang, Administrative Assistant
  • Judith Guthrie, Clinical Trials Coordinator
  • Banita Aggarwal, Clinical Trials Coordinator
  • Melissa Gibson, Clinical Research Analyst
  • Masoomeh Ashrafi, Research Assistant
  • Deiter Baig, Transcriptionist

Keywords

Scleroderma; systemic sclerosis; clinical epidemiology; clinical trials; Bayesian

Profiles

Summary

Laura Passalent obtained her Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Toronto in 1995; completed a Masters of Health Science in Epidemiology at the University of Toronto in 2005, and is a certified Advanced Practitioner in Arthritis Care. Her research focus is on the early identification, rehabilitation and education of the spondyloarthritis population, as well as innovative health services delivery by rehabilitation professionals. She has presented and published on the subjects of early screening and non-pharmacological management for axial spondyloarthritis; extended scope practice of rehabilitation professionals in arthritis care, and access to rehabilitation services.

Keywords

Arthritis; spondyloarthritis; ankylosing spondylitis; physical therapy; rehabilitation; health services

Profiles

Keywords

Sjögren syndrome; systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); clinical trials; autoimmunity; rheumatology; fibromyalgia

Profiles

Summary

Dr. Touma is a Clinician- Scientist in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Toronto, and clinical epidemiologist whose research focuses on

  1. Outcome measurement in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
    He has developed two novel indices for measurement of SLE disease activity that are currently in use in clinical trials. He has expertise in patient reported outcomes including health related quality of life, fatigue, depression/anxiety and others.
  2. Cognitive Impairment in SLE.
    Dr. Touma has established The SLE Neuro-Cognitive Program –a multidisciplinary team of neuropsychologists, neurologist, psychometrists, clinical epidemiologists and other scientists with expertise on measurement science and machine-learning analysts, with a focus on ameliorating the assessment of cognitive function in SLE and other neuropsychiatric syndromes (anxiety/depression).

Team Members

  • Mahta Kakvan, Psychometrist
  • Juan Diaz, PhD Candidate, Biostatistician
  • Jiandong Su, Biostatistician
  • Nicole Anderson, Research Manager
  • Michael Li, Database Programmer
  • Marlene Araujo, Clinical Administrative Assistant
  • Dennisse Bonnilla, Research Analyst
  • Joanna Kokalovski, Research Analyst
  • Priya Sriskandarajah, Research Analyst
  • Navneet Arora, Clinical Trials Nurse
  • Jennifer Dutra, Clinical Trials Analyst

Keywords

Systemic lupus erythematosus; outcomes measurement; cognitive function; patient reported outcomes; health related quality of life

Profiles

Summary

Dr. Urowitz’s research focuses on prognosis studies and therapeutic trials in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). He established a cohort of SLE patients who have been followed prospectively according to a rigorous protocol for up to 50 years. This is one of the largest such databanks in the world with over 2,060 patients. Dr. Urowitz is also Director of the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics Registry for Atherosclerosis involving over 1,800 patients from 31 Centres in 11 countries.

These longitudinal registries have resulted in numerous important findings concerning SLE disease course, outcomes and comorbidities.

Dr. Urowitz’s initiatives for future research are to study the heterogeneity of SLE in its clinical presentations, immunologic biomarkers, genetic expression and response to therapy leading to a personalized management approach.

Team Members

  • Nicole Anderson, Research Manager
  • Marlene Araujo, Clinical Administrative Assistant
  • Julie Gagnier, Biobanking Technician
  • Michael Li, Database Programmer
  • Jiandong Su, Biostatistician
  • Dennisse Bonnilla, Research Analyst
  • Joanna Kokalovski
  • Priya Sriskandarajah, Research Analyst
  • Queenie Xu, Research Analyst
  • Anne MacKinnon, Administrative Coordinator
  • Navneet Arora, Clinical Trials Nurse
  • Konstantinos Tselios, Clinical Research Fellow
  • Danae Papachristos, Clinical Research Fellow
  • Laura Whitall Garcia, Clinical Research Fellow

Keywords

Systemic lupus erythematosus; prognostic studies; phenotyping; outcome measures; therapeutic trials

Profiles

Summary

Our research program is focused upon the Systemic Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases (SARD), which include Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Sjögren’s Disease, and Scleroderma. These are severe chronic conditions for which there is no cure and that not infrequently have irreversible organ damage at diagnosis. The overall objective of our work is to identify the key immunologic abnormalities that lead to development of SARD and that dictate their clinical features. To this end we are examining the genetic basis for disease development and the immune changes that accompany the disease onset and subsequent flares of disease. This information is being used to develop novel diagnostic tests and therapies, which will improve the ability of physicians to manage these conditions, potentially preventing organ damage.

Team Members

  • Michael Kim, Research Technician
  • Kieran Manion, Post-doctoral Fellow
  • Carolina Munoz-Grajales, Graduate Student
  • Emma Vanlieshoute, Graduate Student
  • Sonya Kim, Summer Student
  • Majank Jha, Rheumatology Resident Project

Keywords

Systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases; immunology; genetics; biomarkers

Profiles

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