Because access to care is not always guaranteed, the Arthritis Foundation has been working to help close the gap on the nation’s rheumatologist shortage through our fellowship initiative. Through generous donations from the Jane Wyman Trust, we have been able to fund two pediatric fellowships at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Stephen Chee-Yung Wong, MD, a pediatrician, will complete his pediatric rheumatology fellowship in June 2020. He is looking forward to the opportunity to perform impactful research in pediatric rheumatology and continue to develop as a physician scientist. His current research project examines cognitive dysfunction in children who have lupus.
“There is a definite need for research in neuro-psychiatric lupus as studies have shown it’s one of the least well understood manifestations of lupus,” explains Dr. Wong. “I have seen firsthand the devastation of what cognitive dysfunction can do in a child and their family. With this research, I hope to shed light on cognitive functioning of pediatric lupus patients and give hope to families for earlier recognition, diagnosis and treatment of this terrible disease.”
Samira Nazzar Romero, MD, a board-certified pediatrician, is currently part of the pediatric rheumatology program at UCLA. She expects to complete her fellowship in July 2022. Dr. Nazzar has studied and practiced medicine in Colombia, South America, and in the United States.
Her interest in rheumatology started in medical school, where her graduation project was on osteoporosis in adult women. She completed her pediatric residency in Long Island, New York, and then practiced general pediatrics in a federally qualified health center in New Mexico for over three years. This experience made her aware of the limited access to specialty care in rural areas, a situation particularly concerning for rheumatologic diseases, which can be very debilitating and progressive.
During her fellowship, Dr. Nazzar plans to participate in translational and clinical research that contributes to the improvement of quality of life for patients with rheumatic diseases and facilitates access to care for patients in rural communities.
Thanks to our donors for helping make a difference through funding these fellowships!