Recent News & Events



Division Abstracts for 2016 ACR Annual Meeting


The Division of Rheumatology has had over 10 abstracts accepted for the American College of Rheumatology 2016 Annual Meeting. This year's annual meeting will take place from November 11th-16th in Washington D.C.


Plenary Sessions:


Novel Anti-malarial drug derivative inhibited type I Interferon production and autoimmune inflammation through inhibition of cGAS-STING pathway in Trex1-/- mouse
Team: Jie An, Joshua J. Woodward, Mark Minie, Xizhang Sun, Lena Tanaka, YuFeng Peng, Jessica Snyder, Tomikazu Sasaki, & Keith Elkon


Oral Presentations:

Perioperative Use of Synthetic Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs or Tumor Necrosis Factor α Inhibitors Does Not Associate with Increased Rates of Post-Operative Infections
Team: Bernard Ng, Anders Peck, & Judy Juo


Immune complex-mediated TLR8 activation shifts neutrophils from phagocytosis to NETosis through furin-dependent shedding of FcgRIIA
Team: Christian Lood, Keith Elkon, Jeff Ledbetter, & S. Arve


Poster Sessions:


Improving Pneumococcal Vaccination Rates for Immunosuppressed Patients in an Academic Rheumatology Clinic
Team: Alison Bays


Discrepancy in Reported and Actual Rates of Counseling on Teratogenicity and the Need for Contraception When Initiating Mycophenolate in Women of Childbearing Age
Team: Alison Bays & Jenna Thomason


Frailty Is Associated with Decreased Physical Function in Adults with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Team: James Andrews


Expansion of Transitional B Cells in SLE Patients Correlates with Increased Toll-like Receptor 7 Expression
Team: Ting Wang, John Marken, Karen Cerosaletti, & Natalia V. Giltiay

Low plasma concentrations of Apolipoprotein M correlate to disease activity and endothelial dysfunction in SLE.
Team: H. Tyden, Christian Lood, B. Gullstrand, B. Dahlback, A. Jonsen, & A.A. Bengtsson


Immunologic, Clinical and Demographic Correlates in 51 Cocaine Users with Serum Anti-neutrophil Cytoplasmic Antibodies
Team: Meredith Barnes & Grant Hughes


Correlates of Spontaneous Cytokine Production in Individuals Undergoing Interferon-Gamma Release Assay Testing
Team: Uche Obih MD, Christian Lood, David Koelle, & Grant Hughes



Three New Faculty Appointed

The Division of Rheumatology is pleased to announce the recent appointment of three new faculty members.


Dr. Elizabeth Wahl, MD, MAS, has been appointed as an Acting Instructor.  Elizabeth graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology in 1999.  In 2003, she completed a predoctoral fellowship in bioethics at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.  She returned to Yale University for her medical school, residency in internal medicine, and clinical rheumatology fellowship training.  She comes to us from the University of California, San Francisco where she held the title of postdoctoral fellow/clinical instructor since 2013. Dr. Wahl’s primary clinical site of practice is at the VA-Seattle.  In addition to her clinical work, she will continue her research on Quality of care and Patient-reported Outcomes. 


Dr. Christian Lood, PhD has been appointed as a Research Assistant Professor.  Christian has been working in the Elkon lab as a postdoctoral fellow for the past three years.  He obtained a PhD degree in the field of Biomedicine-Rheumatology from Lund University and has significant research experience in Immunology/Autoimmune disease. He worked with internationally renowned research scientists, Drs. Bengtsson and Sturfelt at the University of Lund. 


Dr. Lood has been extremely productive, including his most recent publication in Nature Medicine. Dr. Lood’s lab is based at South Lake Union.  His primary research focus is to identify the causes of neutrophil mediated inflammation and to find methods to block the inflammation.



Dr. Tal Gazitt, MD, MSc has been appointed as an Affiliate Instructor. Tal recently completed her Rheumatology Fellowship in June 2016.  She received her MD/MSc from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel in 2009. She completed her Internal Medicine Residency Program at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, CA.  Tal has a clinical appointment at The Polyclinic.  She will also continue to work with the Division on her research project at SLU. She will participate in teaching and mentoring activities on an ad hoc basis providing lab mentoring to foreign visiting scientists, medical students, and Rheumatology fellows.


Dr. Jenna Thomason Awarded Department of Medicine Observational Research Pilot Grant

In 2016 the University of Washington Department of Medicine began a pilot grant program to encourage observational research projects that utilize clinical data within UW medicine data sources such as electronic medical records.  This program is designed to support UW fellows and carries the expectation that investigators will use the De-identified Clinical Data Repository (DCDR) to identify cohorts of interest. Fellows can then use this resource to request clinical data derived from these cohorts for analysis and eventual publication. 


Dr. Jenna Thomason has been awarded a grant from this pilot program. She will be using the funds to support aggregating data to answer her current research question; does using the high salt avidity double stranded DNA ELISA test increases sensitivity and specificity when evaluating the disease activity of lupus.?


You can more about our Fellowship Program and Division research on this website.


Announcing Dr. Bobby Han as new Rheumatology Faculty

The Division of Rheumatology is excited to announce that in Fall 2016 Dr. Bobby Han will be joining our faculty. Dr. Han earned his medical degree from Seoul National University College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea in 1994.  He completed a residency in internal medicine at Western Pennsylvania Hospital in 2001.  Dr. Han served as Chief Resident within the Department of Internal Medicine at Western Pennsylvania Hospital from 2001-2002. In 2004 he completed his fellowship in Rheumatology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. 


Dr. Han is a board certified rheumatologist and has been practicing medicine since 2004 in Oregon and now New Jersey.  He currently holds the faculty title of Assistant Professor within the Division of Rheumatology at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in Camden, New Jersey. 


Dr. Han has a strong interest in translational research and clinical investigation.  He will work in collaboration with the Elkon Lab and other interested members of the Division to build a Clinical Trials Program with the Division of Rheumatology.  In addition, Dr. Han will have an active clinical program mostly based at UWMC.



Dr. Gregory Gardner Receives UW PRAISE Award

Congratulations to Gregory Gardner, MD, FACP who has received a UW PRAISE award.  PRAISE stands for Patient Reported Assessment In Satisfaction and Excellence. The awards are given out semi-annually to clinicians who have received at least 15 patient satisfaction surveys in the past 6 months and achieve a ranking for communication in the 80th percentile or better. Clinicians with this ranking are among the top in the nation for their listening and communication skills.



February 2016 Newsletter

The February 2016 Newsletter has been released. Highlights include:


  • New Endowment to Support Rheumatology Fellows Training
  • Honoring Dr. Peter Simkin at the 2015 ACR Dinner
  • 2016 Annual Lane Lecture Save the Date!
  • Drs. Elkon & Lood Research on Nuetrophil NETS & Inflammation
  • Karen Huisinga Awarded ARHP Distinguished Clinician Award
  • Updates on Ultrasound in the UW Rheumatology Clinics
  • Recent Division Publications


You can view the current and past Newsletters here. If you would like recieve Division Newsletters via email or postal mail please email



New Karr Family Endowment to Support Rheumatology Fellows Training


The Division is pleased to announce a new endowed fund for Rheumatology Fellowship Training, which was established by a generous gift from Janet M. and Reynold (Rennie) Karr. With their gift, the Karr’s will support the ongoing training of fellows in rheumatology to become proficient in the care of patients with rheumatologic diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and spondylarthritis. Furthermore, this endowed fund will help to address the local and national need to train more talented rheumatologists that will provide care to patients in our region and beyond.

Dr. Keith Elkon, Division Head, remarked, “We are so grateful to Janet and Rennie. This endowment will have a lasting impact on training the next generation of rheumatologists.”

Janet and Rennie have both spent their lives working in healthcare. Rennie is a physician specializing in both Rheumatology and Allergy/Immunology. He has served on the UW clinical faculty since 1980, initially as a volunteer with an independent private practice, then in a salaried position following the closing of his private practice in 2007. Rennie commented, “I am deeply appreciative of my patients’ confidence and trust, and for the privilege to work with the outstanding UW Medicine Rheumatology and Allergy/Immunology faculty and trainees, as well as other UW faculty, staff, and trainees pursuing excellence in the missions of patient care, teaching, and research.” Janet is a registered nurse who, early in her career, worked full-time in several major city hospital ICUs, then subsequently, medical practice administrative and financial management for Rennie’s private practice in Everett, WA.

The Karr Family Endowed Fellowship was established in November 2015, with 50% matching support from the University of Washington. Should you wish to learn more about how you can make a gift to enhance the Karr Fellowship Fund or to support the general Rheumatology Fellowship Training Fund, please contact Abbey Norris, director for philanthropy, at 206.221.8274 or




2015-2016 Division Grants


Dr. Natalia Giltiay was recently awarded a grant for her project, “Developing New Therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis Using Antigen-Targeting to Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells”.  The grant was awarded by the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program, funded through the Department of Defense. 


The Rheumatology Research Foundation awarded Dr. Erika Noss a Career Development Bridge Funding Award: K Supplement to continue her work on, “Role for the PDGF pathway in RA fibroblast hyperplasia”.


Dr. Keith Elkon received funding from Seattle Genetics for a collaborative project on systemic lupus erythematosus.



Drs. Lood & Elkon Discover How Neutrophil NETS Cause Inflammation - Discussion and Article in Nature Medicine

The research of the Elkon lab was recently highlighted in the article Mitochondral troublemakers unmasked in lupus: drivers of autoimune disease inflammation discovered in the traps pathogen-capturing of white blood cells published in the journal Nature Medicine.


These findings focus on how mitochondria can instigate lupus-like inflammation. The University of Washington and the National Institutes of Health are working to find out why these chemicals and other mitochondrial materials can trigger body's self-attack in systemic lupus erythematosus.


More information on the new findings can be found here. Information on the Elkon Lab can be found on our Division website.



2016 ACGME Rheumatology Fellows

We are excited to announce our 2016 ACGME Fellows.


Dr. Percy Balderia.

Dr. Balderia will join us from University of the Philippines Manila School of Medicine in the Philippines. He completed his residency at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, PA.


Dr. Meredith Barnes.

Dr. Barnes will join us from Emory University School of Medicine. She completed her residency at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA.



Dr. Andrew Vasconcellos.

Dr. Vasconcellos will join us from Ross University Schooll of Medicine. He completed his residency at the New York Methodist Hospital & Weill Cornell Medical College in Brooklyn, NY.


You can learn more about our Fellowship Program here.

UW & Seattle Children's Hospital Team Up at Jingle Bell Run!

The UW and Seattle Children's Rheumatology teams joined forces again this year to support the Arthritis Foundation's Jingle Bell Run. The team was made up of faculty, fellows, staff, and friends! Over 41 team members helped raise more than $2,500. You can find out more about the Arthritis Foundation on their website.






Dr. Grant Hughes Receives UW PRAISE Award

Congratulations to Grant Hughes, MD, Associate Professor who has received a UW PRAISE award.  PRAISE stands for Patient Reported Assessment In Satisfaction and Excellence. The awards are given out semi-annually to clinicians who have received at least 15 patient satisfaction surveys in the past 6 months and achieve a ranking for communication in the 80th percentile or better. Clinicians with this ranking are among the top in the nation for their listening and communication skills.




Celebrating the Retirement of Dr. Carin Dugowson

The Division of Rheumatology recently celebrated the retirement of Dr. Carin Dugowson. Dr. Dugowson earned her M.D. from the University of Illinois and her M.P.H. in Epidemiology from the University of Washington.


Dr. Dugowson joined the Division of Rheumatology in 1980 and served as faculty for over 30 years. During this time she performed clinical duties at the University of Washington Medical Center as well as the now defunt Pacific Medical Center. She was Director of Acute Care Services at Seattle Public Health Hospital, Medical Director for Rheumatology at Pacific Medical Center, and a Supervisor of Clinical Trials for the Division.

During her career Dr. Dugowson also served as a mentor to many medical trainees and on multiple NIH grants. She was often an expert on Electronic Medical Records for the Division of Rheumatology as well as the School of Medicine. She is currently continuing to impact Washington state lives by using her skills as a Master Gardner to volunteer with the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society.



In Memoriam: Wendy Eider, M.D.

It is with great sadness that we learned Wendy Eider, M.D. passed away at the beginning of April after a long illness.

Wendy was a Clinical Associate Professor within the Division, practicing at the Seattle VA since 2012.  Wendy earned her M.D. at Washington University School of Medicine and her Rheumatology Fellowship training at the University of Michigan. Prior to joining UW, Wendy spent most of her time as a community rheumatologist in Yakima WA where she also served as a consultant for Native American clinics.

Wendy is remembered as an outstanding clinical rheumatologist, teacher and collegial member of the Division. She will be missed by the Faculty, Fellows and Staff. We offer sincere condolences to her family.

Keith Elkon MD, Head, Division of Rheumatology &
Bernard Ng, MD, Section Head, VA

Medical Center Puget Sound