Despite a very difficult year for all of us, remarkable things are being accomplished at Johns Hopkins Rheumatology, and I hope you will see that this issue of LEAP is full of hope and excitement, of discoveries, research and care as we work to transform the understanding and treatment of rheumatic diseases.
We continue to make great progress in defining the connections between autoimmunity and cancer. In our cover story (page 2), you can see that what we have learned about dermatomyositis might lead to entirely new tactics for treating cancer, as well.
For years we have been working to apply precision medicine to rheumatic diseases. Our scientists, caregivers, and our patients themselves know that there are very few cookie-cutter diseases in Rheumatology. That’s because, while not all patients are the same, some of them have similarities in symptoms, severity of illness, and trajectory, and we can custom tailor our treatments to these subgroups. Rheumatology is one of the leaders in precision medicine at Johns Hopkins (story on page 6).
We are so proud of our Greene Scholars (page 10), and grateful for this funding that helps launch the research careers of our young investigators. We profile them three of them in this issue, and as you will see, they all are looking to rewrite the standards of care for their specialty disease: lupus nephritis, psoriatic arthritis, and antiphospholipid syndrome.
I truly hope you will come to know, as I do, what amazing people we have working in the Division of Rheumatology. In addition to their excellence at what they do, they are distinguished above all by their care and compassion for our patients, and for each other. They are kind, they are diligent, and what they do is way more than a job. I am proud to introduce you to our four unsung heroes (page 13), whose commitment helped us carry on during the shutdown. And I give equal thanks to all the others who are not featured this year.
What I hope this issue conveys most of all is that we are a family here. And like many families in recent months, we have lost loved ones. One of them you may recall from a previous issue of LEAP: Estelle Williams (pictures at right), who was our Clinic Patient Service Coordinator for more than 15 years. Estelle was a nurturing person, who cared deeply for the patients she came to now in our Scleroderma Center. In her words: “We trey to maintain a level of service that can make them feel comfortable, from the time they enter the clinic to when they leave. I want them to know that I am here for them, I will do whatever I can within my power to make the visit pleasant, and I know that a lot of them are very emotional when they come. Everyone has a different situation, and we’ve got to be alert to identify it and work with it.”
Estelle is going to be greatly missed, and so is another dear friend, Nancy Hellman Bechtle, the chair of our Advisory Board, who was an inspiration to us, and whose obituary appears on Page 17.
Antony Rosen, M.D.
Director, Division of Rheumatology
Vice Dean for Research