The Lupus Clinic
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is one of the most challenging autoimmune diseases to diagnose and treat since multiple organ systems can be affected. The complexity of SLE typically requires patients to be treated by multiple medical providers to optimize delivery of care and improve outcomes. Founded in March 2014 by Dr. Al Kim, the Lupus Clinic at Washington University was designed to achieve three goals: 1) provide rheumatology, dermatology, and nephrology care specific to SLE during a single office visit, 2) enhance support services to those suffering with SLE by developing durable ties with SLE-focused non-profit organizations, and 3) initiate leading clinical and translational research in SLE.
Today, under the leadership of Drs. Kim and Deepali Sen who co-direct the Lupus Clinic, over 300 patients from nine states with moderate to severe SLE are seen by three rheumatologists (Drs. Kim, Sen, and Lisa Zickuhr), a dermatologist (Dr. Heather Jones), and a nephrologist (Dr. Tingting Li). Additionally, the Lupus Clinic has partnered with the Lupus Foundation of America-Heartland Chapter (LFA-HC) to provide patients coming to the Lupus Clinic with additional informational resources about living with SLE. Dr. Kim also serves on the LFA-HC Board of Directors and is Chair of the Program Committee, where his efforts helped him earn the Lupus Leadership Award in 2018.
Finally, seven clinical and translational research projects addressing some of the most pressing unmet needs in SLE are underway, including the NIH-funded CASTLE (Complement Activation Signatures in sysTemic Lupus Erythematosus) study led by Dr. Kim. Dr. Kim was also successful in securing acceptance of the Lupus Clinic into LuCIN (Lupus Clinical Investigators Network), a consortium designed to enhance the identification and development of new SLE therapies. Patients have the opportunity to participate in four active interventional clinical trials testing some of the latest therapies in SLE. Finally, research training efforts within the Lupus Clinic infrastructure has enabled several trainees to be awarded competitive Rheumatology Research Foundation preceptorship grants. Most recently, Jennifer Ra, a senior at Washington University, was named as one of the prestigious Gina M. Finzi Research Fellows from the Lupus Foundation of America under the mentorship of Dr. Kim.
In just four short years, the Lupus Clinic at Washington University has already exceeded its initial goals and plans to convert it into a Center of Excellence are underway. We are working hard to continue growth in providing state-of-the-art patient care, meaningful community service, and outstanding clinical and translational research, which will cement the Lupus Clinic at WashU as one of the leading SLE centers in the world.