Meet the Team

Scleroderma Program Rheumatology Faculty

Dinesh Khanna, MD, MSc, Director

Dinesh Khanna, MD, MSc, Frederick G.L. Huetwell Professor of Rheumatology and Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, is the director of the University of Michigan Scleroderma Program.

Originally from New Delhi, India, Dr. Khanna received his medical degree from the University College of Medical Sciences. He completed his postdoctoral training as an intern and resident in Internal Medicine at Wright State University School of Medicine in Dayton, Ohio. He then went on to complete a clinical and research fellowship in rheumatology and a master’s in clinical research at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine. Dr. Khanna was an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and also the Clinical Director of UCLA’s Scleroderma Clinic.

Dr. Khanna is the author of over 350 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters. He has won numerous awards, including the 2011 “Best Doctor of the Year” award from the Scleroderma Foundation and the prestigious 2015 Henry Kunkel Award from the American College of Rheumatology. He is board certified in rheumatology. Dr. Khanna is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health with grants from NIAMS and NIAID (he is PI of the University of Michigan Clinical Autoimmunity Center of Excellence). He is the Coordinating PI for ongoing and recently completed NIH and industry-funded trials of abatacept, brentuximab, pirfenidone, riociguat, tofacitinib, and tocilizumab in scleroderma and co-PI of the ongoing Scleroderma Lung Study III. He led the development of the ACR-CRISS index, which is rapidly becoming the primary outcome measure in scleroderma trials.

Dr. Khanna is a fellow of the American College of Rheumatology. He was elected by his peers to the 2011-2018 Best Doctors in America, which recognizes the area’s top clinicians.

John Varga, MD, Associate Director

John Varga, MD, Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of Rheumatology and Professor of Internal Medicine, was named Chief of the Division of Rheumatology in September 2020, and is also the associate director of the University of Michigan Scleroderma Program.

Prior to joining Michigan Medicine as the Chief of Rheumatology, Dr. John Varga was the John and Nancy Hughes Distinguished Professor of Rheumatology at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Scleroderma Program. Dr. Varga earned his BA at Columbia University and his MD from New York University. He completed his internal medicine residency at Brown University and his fellowship in rheumatology at Boston University, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship with Sergio Jiminez at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Varga later held faculty positions at the University of Pennsylvania, Jefferson Medical College, and was Chief of the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Illinois Chicago. He later joined Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine as the director of the Scleroderma Program.

Dr. Varga's research focuses on inflammation, fibrosis, tissue repair, and regeneration. He is well-known internationally for his work on defining TGF-beta-mediated fibrosis. Dr. Varga has published more than 250 peer-reviewed manuscripts in journals such as JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Nature Communication, and Science Translational Medicine. His research work is funded by the NIH, and foundation and pharmacological grants.

In addition to his research prowess, Dr. Varga's passion is in training, mentorship, and education. He has mentored trainees at all levels, several of whom have gone on to make outstanding careers for themselves.

Dr. Varga is a nationally recognized academic scholar and has received many accolades for his work on the basic mechanisms of fibrosis and scleroderma. He is an elected member of the Association of American Physicians and a Master of the American College of Rheumatology. Dr. Varga received the Scleroderma Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award and was recognized as Mentor of the Year by the Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Varga is the Associate Director of the Scleroderma Program.

Dr. Varga serves on the Board of Directors for the Global Fibrosis Foundation and the American College of Rheumatology. He has been a member and chair of several NIH study sections, as well as committees from professional organizations. He is currently co-Editor of Arthritis and Rheumatology.

David A. Fox, MD

David A. Fox, MD, Professor of Rheumatology, has been a member of the University of Michigan School of Medicine faculty since 1985 and served as Chief of the Division of Rheumatology for 28 years, from 1990-2018. In 2013, Dr. Fox became the Frederick G. L. Huetwell and William D. Robinson, M.D. Professor of Rheumatology. He also directs the University of Michigan Clinical Autoimmunity Center of Excellence.

Dr. Fox’s research focuses on defining and characterizing pathways of human T cell activation, determining the role of these pathways in the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease, investigating T cell interactions with synovial fibroblasts, regulating autoimmunity with genetically modified dendritic cells, understanding the role of interleukin-17 in arthritis, and exploring novel approaches to the treatment of scleroderma. He is author of more than 200 scientific papers and book chapters and has served on the Editorial Board of Arthritis & Rheumatism and as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Immunology and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.

In 2007-2008, Dr. Fox served as the seventy-first President of the American College of Rheumatology and the sixth ACR President from the University of Michigan.

Vivek Nagaraja, MBBS

Vivek Nagaraja, MBBS, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of Rheumatology, is an active faculty in the Michigan Medicine Scleroderma Program. Originally from the city of Bangalore in India, Dr. Nagaraja received his medical degree from Ramaiah Medical College. He did two years of transitional post-doctoral training in the United Kingdom. He subsequently moved to Tucson, Arizona where he completed residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Geriatric Medicine at University of Arizona. He then completed a fellowship in Rheumatology at the University of Michigan in 2014. He became a faculty Assistant Professor at the University of Toledo, and re-joined the University of Michigan Division of Rheumatology in May 2017, and is an integral part of the Scleroderma program.

Dr. Nagaraja brings a unique geriatric clinical experience of chronic care management into the care of scleroderma patients. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Geriatric Medicine and Rheumatology, and a member of the American College of Rheumatology. His specific research interests include patient reported outcomes measurement in rheumatic diseases (including scleroderma) and their implementation in routine clinical care, and understanding the unique subset of patients with rheumatic disease who have interstitial lung disease. He will be leading clinical trials in scleroderma at University of Michigan in partnership with Professor Khanna. He serves as a reviewer (see a listing of Dr. Nagaraja's publications on PubMed), a service of the National Library of Medicine. He currently serves as a reviewer in the Journal of General Internal Medicine and BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.

David Roofeh, MD

David Roofeh, MD, is a Clinical Lecturer and Research Fellow in the Division of Rheumatology. He received his medical degree from SUNY Upstate Medical University and completed his residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College of the Thomas Jefferson University/Christiana Care Health System. He completed his fellowship in Rheumatology at the University of Michigan in 2019.

Dr. Roofeh is the newest member to the Scleroderma Program. His clinical interests are in connective tissue disease-associated interstitial lung disease and providing transition care for young adult patients with scleroderma. He will be working closely with Dr. Khanna and Dr. Nagaraja on clinical trials in scleroderma and joining the NIH-funded T32 grant.

Eliza Tsou, PhD

Eliza Tsou, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor and Research Fellow in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Michigan. She received her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the State University of New York at Buffalo and joined UM in 2008.

Dr. Tsou’s main role is conducting scleroderma research. She has been actively involved in numerous scleroderma research projects, examining the mechanism of tissue fibrosis and vasculopathy in scleroderma. She utilizes cells isolated from skin biopsies from healthy volunteers as well as scleroderma patients and determines the key factors affecting the disease pathogenesis. Dr. Tsou is currently supported by the Arthritis Foundation.

 

Faculty from many disciplines and programs including Pulmonary Medicine, Pulmonary Hypertension (Cardiovascular Medicine), Michigan Bowel Control Program (Gastroenterology), Pediatric Rheumatology, Department of Dermatology, Division of Hand Surgery, Department of Occupational Therapy, and the U-M Cancer Center participate in the Scleroderma Program.

Pulmonary Medicine

Cardiology/Pulmonary Hypertension Program

Gastroentrology/Michigan Bowel Control Program

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation – Sclero-Rehab Program

  • Marty Barber, OTR, Occupational Therapist
  • Carole V. Dodge, BS, OTR, CHT, Occupational Therapist
  • Susan Murphy, ScD, OTR, Associate Professor, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation; Director, Clinical Trials Development; Research Non-Clinical Faculty; Research Health Science Specialist VA Ann Arbor Health Care System, GRECC
    • Dr. Murphy is an occupational therapist by training and has over 20 years of experience in rehabilitation research. She completed her doctoral degree in Therapeutic Studies at Boston University, and completed post-doctoral fellowships at Yale University School of Medicine and the University of Michigan. A major focus of her research is developing and testing rehabilitation interventions that reduce chronic symptoms and improve function. She has received research grants through NIH, the Scleroderma Foundation, and industry to study occupational therapy treatments for people with scleroderma. She works closely with research faculty, clinicians, peer mentors, and patients to develop meaningful and effective interventions with an aim to improve quality of life and well-being in people with scleroderma.

Hand/Plastics Surgery

  • Kevin C. Chung, MD, MS, Charles B. G. de Nancrede Professor of Surgery, Professor of Plastic Surgery and Orthopaedic Surgery, Chief of Hand Surgery
  • Jennifer F. Waljee, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

 

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