Change Maker Recognition

A rheumatology change maker is anyone in the field of rheumatology working to start or support an initiative or intervention, bring a program or idea to reality, or improve the quality of life of a group or community: A true leader, an inspired visionary, or front-line professional willing to do whatever it takes to keep things going. The ACR and ARP want to recognize these heroes of rheumatology through the new Rheumatology Change Maker program.

You can nominate a peer, colleague, mentor, or anyone in the field of rheumatology who has gone above and beyond what is expected. Learn about eligibility and the nomination process and recognize a Rheumatology Change Maker today.


Rheumatology Change Makers

Daniel J. WallaceDaniel J. Wallace, MD
Cedars Sinai

Visionary. Generous. Daniel J. Wallace, MD, gave a generous endowed gift via the Foundation that funds 4-6 graduate student preceptorships per year in rheumatology. This gift will attract, expand and potentially retain health professionals in the rheumatology workforce for years to come. Dr. Wallace's vision for the future of rheumatology is bright and he provided a foundation to build on. - Barbara Slusher, MSW, PA-C, Colleague

Myla Morales-TomasMyla Morales-Tomas, ARNP
University of Washington

Catalyst – the spark which speaks to Myla’s energy and enthusiasm and role in igniting change/improvement in our clinic. Not only has she provided the spark, she also fuels our ongoing commitment to patients by having her hands in everything. In her role as a rheumatology nurse practitioner, she serves as an EMR “super-user”, a clinical staff supervisor, and provides outstanding care to our clinic patients, willingly helping wherever she is needed. Myla has allowed our clinic to meet the needs of so many more rheumatology patients than would be possible without her, extending rheumatology access in the pacific northwest region. Myla’s spark extends beyond her clinical expertise. Of Hawaiian heritage, she truly embodies the Aloha spirit of love and fellowship, and works tirelessly to support our cohesive team spirit, even during these trying pandemic times.
- Kori Dewing, Colleague

Arundathi Jayatilleke, MDArundathi Jayatilleke, MD
Temple University

I've worked with Dr. Jayatilleke as a member of the Global Rheumatology Alliance since its inception in March 2020. She has been a core member of the GRA's Clinical and Scientific Committee and has been involved in a multitude of projects. In March and April, during the height of lockdowns globally, we undertook a slew of GRA projects to fill in the gaps of knowledge for our patients with rheumatic disease. One of these projects was a scoping literature review covering all the commonly used anti-rheumatic medications and studies assessing their associated risk for acute viral respiratory infections. Although we had a large team of over a dozen people, these were all volunteers, and many were trainees who had never done such a literature review before. As one of the leads, Aruni literally worked day and night to organize this project. She stepped in when trainees were called to cover COVID units. She herself was called to cover COVID units and still, she continued working on this project after her shifts. I cannot overstate how much she did. This project took several months to get to publication, and she never flagged. After it was finished, she continued to step in and lead or lend a hand on other GRA projects. These efforts have contributed so much to our current understanding of how rheumatic disease patients fare with COVID-19, or during this pandemic.
- Jean Liew, MD, Colleague

Marcy Bolster, MDMarcy Bolster, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital

Marcy changes the careers and the lives of the people she teaches and collaborates with. She has been both a mentor and a collaborative partner in medical education initiatives, neither of which were required dedications of her time. Instead, she freely shared her time and talent to teach me how to set up an OSCE station for rheumatology fellows, how to best write a manuscript for publication, and how to approach life with a positive, growth mindset.
- Lisa Zickuhr, MD, Colleague

Elaine Alexander, MDElaine Alexander, MD
Arthritis Center of Lexington

Elaine is one of the most caring physicians I have ever known. She will stay hours late after clinic to make sure patient care is completed. She always gives 100% to every patient. Additionally, she has two beautiful children and a husband who is also a physician. She is a super mom, super doctor, superwoman.
- Kimberly Fisher, DO, MBA, Professional Association

Vinicius Domingues, MDVinicius Domingues, MD
Asthma Allergy and Arthritis Center

Dr. Domingues has completely revolutionized rheumatology care in our city. Here in Daytona Beach, Florida, we have had a shortage of rheumatologist for years. Since his arrival around 4 years ago, Dr. Domingues has established a fast track for lupus and inflammatory arthritis patients that works wonders. I work as a consultant to many insurance companies and nursing homes, and it has been an epic challenge to have these patients seen. Dr. Domingues is kind and listens to feedback given by patients, case managers and social workers. I have ultimately become his patient and really admire him. He is a true hero for our medical community and patients.
- Josefina Castilho, Patient Care Giver

Nasser Nasseri asl, MDNasser Nasseri, MD, FACR
Nasseri Clinic of Arthritic and Rheumatic Diseases, Jean Walter Infusion Center

Dr. Nasseri goes above and beyond to be a part of teaching residents rheumatology during their rotations and public speaking at the hospitals.
- Nasseri Clinic


See All Rheumatology Change Makers

Petros Efthimiou, MDPetros Efthimiou, MD
New York Rheumatology Care

Inspired many medical students and residents to follow a career in rheumatology.
- Olga Petryna, MD, Colleague


Elizabeth Karlson Shapiro, MDElizabeth Karlson Shapiro, MD
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

After several unsuccessful attempts with other physicians, I finally found out about Dr. Karlson. She was a godsend. She spent two hours with me in my initial appointment. She provided options to me. She explained the pros and cons of each option. She treated me like a human being with respect. What a breath of fresh air. She reassured me and presented the truth. At least she made me feel hopeful. Being kind and respectful is under-rated. She is extremely bright, articulate, knowledgeable, stayed up to date with current research and was kind and respectable! She had the breadth and depth of experience! When I met Dr. Karlson I was starting a VP job and needed to be highly functional. I got my life back enough to travel overseas for my job which I loved. I remember her very fondly and am deeply grateful. My situation could have ended in a very negative way but thanks to her I felt hopeful and was properly medicated.
- Cindy I. Shapiro, Patient

Anna Helena Jonsson, MD, PhDAnna Helena Jonsson, MD, PhD
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Helena Jonsson is a bright light shining through COVID for our patients, for our department, and especially for the other fellows — including myself. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Helena has adapted to COVID in innumerable ways, that I want to highlight in various themes. 1) Advancing discourse. Helena has guided our department's understanding of COVID by keeping up with the literature and running monthly seminars that update us about pivotal issues related to the care of our at-risk patients, covering everything from the basic science to the bedside. Between seminars, she keeps us updated on hospital, state, and national policies with timely emails of significant changes. She also participates in national calls with pediatric rheumatology about the care and management of COVID in the pediatric population, such as the emerging condition MIS-C – with the lens that some older children/ younger adults may present to adult hospitals. 2) Care for her colleagues. Through the pandemic, including early on when little was known and PPE was scarcer, Helena offered to see any COVID patient herself so as to protect other providers who may live with young children or older family members, or be elderly themselves. She has also made herself available for staffing any patient on COVID precautions – at any time of day – with the fellows to support our learning. 3) Exemplary patient care. In early days, Helena identified that immunosuppressive medications well known to rheumatologists but less well known to other hospital-based physicians were becoming more commonly used in the fight against COVID. She thus founded a rheumatology COVID consult service to help primary teams prescribe and monitor immunosuppressive agents with which they may otherwise have little familiarity. When the first person with MIS-C was hospitalized at BCH, Helena staffed this patient with me despite being off service – it was no wonder to me that his mother wanted Helena to continue following him as an outpatient after discharge. More recently, she has continued her patient-centric innovation most recently by initiating a QI project to optimally time COVID vaccines with Rituximab infusions in collaboration with our infusion center. The most incredible thing about all of these feats is that COVID is not Helena’s primary interest. Helena is a physician scientist who recently got her first K and is on her way to becoming an independent investigator – and she is NOT studying COVID. But that is just the type of person Helena is. When she sees a problem and thinks she can answer it – she does. She is a thoughtful, caring, and compassionate physician; a brilliant scientist; a selfless mentor to all of the fellows; and an all-around good person. When I grow up, I want to be like Helena Jonsson – a #RheumChangeMaker.
- Michelle Robinette, MD, PhD, Colleague

Silvano Adami, MDSilvano Adami, MD
University of Verona

Dr. Silvano Adami, who passed away 4 years ago after a long fight with cancer, was a rheumatologist and international expert in the field of metabolic bone diseases and osteoporosis. He dedicated his life to the research, especially concerning discovery effective treatments for rare diseases such as osteogenesis imperfecta and CRPS. With his research he helped the bone world to move forward locally and internationally.
- Giovanni Adami, MD, Colleague

Dominic DeMello, MDDominic DeMello, MD
Springfield Medical Associates

Dr. DeMello has continuously shown passion for the Rheumatology field and care for his patients. He has made a deep impact on his patients and is also a passionate advocate for them. He has such selflessness and during the start of Covid and presently to my knowledge has not missed a day and continued caring for his patients and showing up to work. He is trusted, has incredible knowledge and his peers and employees of his practice speak incredibly highly of him. There is no doubt he has positively impacted patients’ lives and continues to support them through their journey of remission.
- Kate Kapusta, Professional Association

Grace Wright, MD, PhD, FACRGrace Wright, MD, PhD, FACR
New York University

Dr. Grace Wright founded the Association of Women in Rheumatology (AWIR) five years ago to fill a void for an organization focused on developing women and clinicians of diverse backgrounds as leaders, clinicians, and educators in the Rheumatology community. Since its inception AWIR has grown to be an international organization with members/chapters in over 22 countries. She has grown the organization to incorporate a strong focus on educating other physicians about the gaps in healthcare disparities and the impact on patient outcomes, training new rheumatologists about how to develop sustainable business models, practice development, become advocates for themselves and their patients, encouraging more to join the field of Rheumatology, and keep abreast of the latest clinical advances. Dr. Wright is a tireless advocate for female physicians, authoring publications and speaking about the wage gap for women compared to men, and the need to support women balancing busy careers and families. All the while, Dr. Wright has maintained a busy private practice, bringing real world experience back up her clinical research and publications; critical when the community is facing a critical reduction in the workforce available to treat patients.
- Katharine Channing, Patient

Rheumatology DepartmentRheumatology Department
University of Picardy-Jules Verne (France)

From March 2020, the viral pandemic linked to COVID-19 overwhelmed the health capacities of hospitals in northern France. The entire team of the Rheumatology Department of the Amiens University Hospital Center then spontaneously volunteered to become a COVID unit. For several months, the team improved its capacity to take care of 20 beds of patients too severely ill to be able to stay at home. Through her volunteering, she inspired other teams at the Amiens hospital and other hospitals. The restaurants of the city of Amiens have supplied this unit daily and free of charge to show all the recognition of the city towards them, creating a strong and lasting bond between the team and the local population. Several members of the team were infected during this time, victim of their duty, but all are now unharmed.
- GOEB Vincent, Direct Report

Milena Vukelic, MDMilena Vukelic, MD
Jacobi Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Dr. Vukelic is a Rheumatology Change Maker because she is a Harvard-trained rheumatologist who provides premier care to the vulnerable uninsured and undocumented population of the Bronx in New York. She is social entrepreneur, who through her work expands access to treatment for all patients in need. Dr. Vukelic is busy mother of two young girls and volunteers her free time to ACR advocacy.
- Djordje Milanovic, Patient

Dr. Vukelic is the most caring physician scientist who works in underserved area in Bronx, NY providing care to the uninsured and undocumented patient population. Dr. Vukelic is dedicated to improving access and care to all rheumatology patients and generously dedicates her free time to volunteering for the American College of Rheumatology and served on Education Committee.
- Sasa Vukelic, Colleague

Kathleen Arntsen, BAKathleen Arntsen, BA
Lupus and Allied Disease Association, Inc.

Kathleen has fought tenaciously to ensure that the patient voice is included as an equal stakeholder in the healthcare, regulatory and public policy, and research arenas. She served as the Lupus Patient Representative at the FDA for eight years and was the initiator and a driving force behind the Lupus Patient Focused Drug Development (PFDD) Initiative. She currently serves as the volunteer President & CEO of Lupus and Allied Diseases Association and has selflessly shared her time, passion, and expertise as a diplomatic leader and patient advocate for the lupus and rheumatology communities for over thirty-four years.
- Sandra Frear, Colleague

Julie BaakJulie Baak
Arthritis Center

Julie Baak is a fierce patient advocate and will not take 'no' for an answer when it comes to getting her patients on therapy. She has been successful at overturning mandates to Pharmacy Benefit Managers from every Payer, she has been a speaker at NORM and CSRO and has authored several advocacy pieces for NICA and Patients Rising. A quick wit and a sharp pen, she is nimble and gets results.
- Amanda Graf, Colleague

Diane Kamen, MD, MSCRDiane Kamen, MD, MSCR
Medical University of South Carolina

Dr. Diane Kamen is an exemplary researcher and mentor, working to improve the lives of patients with lupus. She helped start the Lupus Patient Education Event at MUSC (Medical University of South Carolina), which is an event that continues today. This patient education event has been ongoing at MUSC from 2011 to 2020 under the leadership of Dr. Diane Kamen.
- Mithu Maheswaranathan, Colleague

Eugene Kissin, MDEugene Kissin, MD
Boston University School of Medicine

Dr. Kissin in described as an innovator, and deserved to be recognized as a Rheumatology Change Maker for his pioneering efforts in teaching ultrasound to rheumatology fellows across the American training programs.
- Paul DeMarco, Colleague

Soumya Chatterjee, MD, MS, FRCPSoumya Chatterjee, MD, MS, FRCP
Cleveland Clinic

Dr. Soumya Chatterjee has dedicated his life to rheumatology, which is why he should be recognized at a rheumatology Change Maker. He highlights community issues by organizing an informative bi-yearly Scleroderma Day for patients and their families. He advocates to help make legislators aware of what Scleroderma is and how they might effect beneficial regulatory change for this rare but devastating disease. In 2005, Dr. Chatterjee established the Cleveland Clinic Scleroderma Program. In addition to his clinical work with patients, he oversees several ongoing research projects. Dr. Chatterjee also teaches and mentors internal medicine residents and rheumatology fellows (over 50 so far). He directs the Associate Rheumatology Fellowship Program and has developed several teaching materials. Equally significant, Dr. Chatterjee pushes his patients to maintain a positive attitude and to live life as fully as possible. For all these reasons and because of his extensive knowledge, teaching abilities, and genuine compassion, Dr. Soumya Chatterjee deserves this ACR Change Maker Award.
- Linda Slusser, Patient

William Rigby, MDWilliam Rigby, MD
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

Dr. Rigby has made significant contributions to research and clinical rheumatology.
- Douglas Dier, Colleague

Edward Leib, MDEdward Leib, MD
University of Vermont Medical Center

Dr. Leib is described as a respected rheumatologist and hailed for his significant contributions to medical education, osteoporosis, and clinical rheumatology.
- Douglas Dier, Colleague

Bonita Libman, MDBonita Libman, MD
University of Vermont

Dr. Libman is a Rheumatology Change Maker because of her dedication and commitment to her trainees. She is a program director and division chief and I have trained in rheumatology under her care. She is very supportive of the fellows education and a wonderful mentor. She always gives us the extra push needed and supports us to achieve balance between training and personal life.
- Sahitni Jargugla, Colleague

Lisa Sammaritano, MDLisa Sammaritano, MD
Hospital for Special Surgery

Dr. Sammaritano’s scholarship of the reproductive health issues of our patients has been a major contribution to an underappreciated issue that affects QOL. I honestly don't think any other contribution to the field has been as hugely important as this. There is so much attention given to rare diseases, but not much attention has been paid to issues that affect our entire patient population.
- Karmela Kim Chan, Colleague

Jinoos Yazdany, MD, MPHJinoos Yazdany, MD, MPH
San Francisco General Hospital

Jinoos co-led the conceptual development and implementation of the Global Rheumatology Alliance COVID Rheumatology Registry, which has facilitated a better understanding about COVID outcomes for rheumatology patients.
- Rachel Myslinski, Professional Association

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