SCTC Visiting Fellowships

Aim

The SCTC’s objective in setting up this fellowship programme is to provide individuals early in their career with the opportunity to spend time in a domestic or international systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) centre that is an SCTC member institution. International fellows will have the benefits of mentorship by a senior clinician with wide experience in systemic sclerosis. A fellowship will provide a ‘step-up’ on the road to becoming an independent researcher, and in some cases to setting up a new scleroderma centre. The overall aim is to foster the next generation of clinicians and clinician scientists with an interest in systemic sclerosis-spectrum disorders. It is anticipated that 2-3 fellowships will be awarded per year.

What does a fellowship involve?

  • Fellowships will generally be for 4 weeks, but there is flexibility (2 weeks to 3 months) depending on an individual’s needs and aspirations as well as the availability of the mentor(s) and resources of the host institution.
  • Each fellowship will be hosted at an SCTC member institution, either in the applicant’s own country or further afield. See our list of SCTC member institutions.
  • The fellow will attend clinics and ward rounds, and participate in departmental research activities. There can be a focus on either clinical practice or research, whichever is most appropriate for the individual. If the focus is on clinical practice, then it is anticipated that during the fellowship the fellow will write up a clinical case or cases series, with the expectation that this will be submitted to a Systemic Sclerosis World Congress (or other national or international meeting). If the focus is on research, then it is anticipated that the fellow will engage in a short research project, again with the expectation that an abstract will be submitted to a Systemic Sclerosis World Congress or an International Workshop on Scleroderma Research (or other national or international meeting), or become involved in a larger project that  s/he will continue with in collaboration with the mentor after returning home. Alternatively (or additionally) the fellow (whether clinical or research focused) could draft a review article for submission to the Journal of Scleroderma and Related Disorders. Although expenses to attend a World Congress or International Workshop on Scleroderma Research are not covered by the fellowship, fellows can apply to the SCTC for a travel award to attend either of these meetings.
  • Following the fellowship, the fellow will submit a 1,000 word report describing what he/she has gained from the fellowship. The intention is that reports will be posted on the SCTC website.
  • For the 12 months following the fellowship, fellows are encouraged to keep their mentors updated with their progress. Most mentors will be happy to provide ongoing support.
  • The fellowship ‘visit’ must be completed within a year from the date of award of the fellowship.

 How to apply?

Applicants may either make the first approach to a member institution/mentor, or they may approach the SCTC for a list of suggested host institutions/mentors happy to be contacted (in this case contact Adara Borys, Administrative Assistant, SCTC, email sctcinc01@gmail.com). Applicants should then submit (with the application) a supporting letter from the proposed mentor. Applications will be judged on the basis of the following:

  1. A personal statement of up to 500 words. This should include a description of what the applicant would gain from attending the fellowship, in terms of development of a career with a strong focus on clinical care of patients with systemic sclerosis and/or systemic sclerosis research.
  2. A short CV (Maximum 3 pages)
  3. A supporting letter from the applicant’s current supervisor.
  4. A supporting letter from the proposed mentor from the proposed SCTC host institution.

When are applications considered?

There is no closing date for applications. It is anticipated that a decision will be made regarding each application within 6 weeks of receipt. 

Who is eligible?

Clinical trainees and those within the first five years of completing their training/starting their first Rheumatology faculty position are eligible to apply.

What costs are covered?

Travel, accommodation and subsistence costs will be covered to a maximum of 5,000 USD. Receipts must be provided.

Host sites receive a 1,000 USD stipend. Sites are also requested to provide a post-fellowship evaluation.

Any questions?

For questions relating to the international fellowships, please send an email to sctcinc01@gmail.com.

 

Visiting Fellowship Centres

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North America

USA

Baltimore

Johns Hopkins Scleroderma Center
Baltimore
USA

Mentors:
Dr Laura Hummers (lhummers@jhmi.edu)
Dr Ami Shah (ami.shah@@jhmi.edu)

Opportunities:

The Johns Hopkins Scleroderma Center is happy to offer a one month Visiting Fellowship through the SCTC Betty Benedict Visiting Fellowship program. The fellowship will include both clinical and research opportunities. We have a very busy clinical practice with 6 faculty who work within our Scleroderma Center. We anticipate that the fellow will rotate with various Scleroderma Center faculty and faculty from associated specialty centers (including our Pulmonary Hypertension Center). From the research standpoint, training will focus on methodology and development/maintenance of a large prospective registry and biorepository. We are also happy to facilitate a short-term research project utilizing existing data of the Johns Hopkins Scleroderma Cohort. The participant will attend our divisional educational activities (rounds, teaching sessions), Scleroderma Center research activities (research meetings) and Scleroderma Center clinical activities (lung conference).

Utah

University of Utah
Utah
USA

Mentor:
Dr Tracy Frech (Tracy.Frech@hsc.utah.edu)

Opportunities:

The University of Utah is delighted to sponsor a one-month Betty Benedict Fellowship.  The University of Utah Scleroderma Center is a member of the Utah Vascular Research Laboratory (UVRL). Fellows will participate in systemic sclerosis (SSc) clinic, interstitial lung disease clinic, and pulmonary hypertension clinic to learn clinical disease phenotyping. In SSc clinic, fellows will learn clinical vasculopathy quantification techniques including capillaroscopy, flow mediated dilation, and sublingual microscopy. Laboratory experience for visiting fellows will include skin biopsy processing and observation at the UVRL of mouse and human oxidative stress experiments.  The goal of this fellowship is to learn longitudinal vasculopathy assessment for SSc clinical research.  Participants will be housed at the University Guest House, which is walking distance to the University Medical Center as well as Trax transportation that provides access to sites throughout Salt Lake City. 

 

Canada

Montreal

Jewish General Hospital Montreal
Canada

Mentors:
Dr Murray Baron (MURRAY.BARON.med@ssss.gouv.qc.ca)

Opportunities:

Visiting fellows will have the opportunity to attend scleroderma clinics where patients attend and data are entered into a research database. There are also monthly clinics with a cardiologist and respiratory physician. Attending clinics would be on an observership basis. There are opportunities to learn nailfold capillaroscopy. At any one time there are several ongoing research projects, with a full-time statistician working on these: it is likely that a visiting fellow could become engaged in one these projects.

South America

Brazil

Escola Paulista de Medicina (Paulista Medical School)
Federal University de São Paulo
São Paulo
Brazil

Mentors:
Prof. Cristiane Kayser (cristiane.kayser@unifesp.br)
Prof. Luis Eduardo Coelho Andrade
Prof. Alexandre Wagner S. Souza 

Opportunities:

Paulista Medical School is a tertiary referral center for patients with systemic sclerosis in São Paulo, the largest city in South America.

Over 300 patients are currently under regular follow-up in our center.

Our outpatient clinic has a broad and heterogeneous group of SSc patients that are under inter-disciplinary approach, including the pulmonology department, as well as nutrition and rehabilitation divisions. From the clinical perspective, fellows will have the opportunity to participate in the systemic sclerosis outpatient clinic and ward rounds.

The research program has a strong focus on clinical and basic studies on systemic sclerosis with special focus on capillaroscopy and microvascular and endothelial dysfunction in patients with SSc and related diseases. Our laboratory is a national reference center for autoantibody determination, including most autoantibodies relevant to systemic autoimmune rheumatic disease. Fellows will have access to laboratory bench procedures and to discussions on the interpretation of results with emphasis for clinical integration. From the research perspective, fellows will participate in the weekly scientific meetings of the Systemic Sclerosis group and the Autoimmunity group.

Mentorship will be provided by Prof. Cristiane Kayser at the clinical and capillaroscopy aspects, and also by Prof. Alexandre Wagner S. Souza and by Prof. Luis Eduardo Coelho Andrade at the laboratory support.

Europe

Belgium

The University of Ghent and the Ghent University Hospital
Belgium

Mentors:
Professor Vanessa Smith (vanessa.smith@ugent.be)
Dr Yves Piette

Opportunities:

The University of Ghent and the Ghent University Hospital, Belgium is very pleased to host fellows under the Benedict Visiting Fellowship programme. The Ghent University Hospital is a tertiary referral centre for patients with systemic sclerosis: over 600 patients are under regular review and microcirculatory evaluation. There is an enthusiastic multi-disciplinary  team with both clinical as well research focus in the field of systemic sclerosis and in the field of microcirculation (capillaroscopy and laser). From the clinical perspective, fellows will have the opportunity to attend systemic sclerosis clinics and ward rounds, and learn the technique of nailfold capillaroscopy (image acquisition and interpretation) and laser speckle contrast analysis. From the research perspective, fellows will have the opportunity to take part in ongoing research or to execute own research (if the fellowship extends over some months). Mentorship will be provided by Vanessa Smith, and also by Yves Piette.

Sweden

The Lund University and Skåne University Hospital
Lund
Sweden

Mentors:
Associate professor Roger Hesselstrand (roger.hesselstrand@med.lu.se)
Associate professor Dirk M Wuttge
Associate professor Kristofer Andréasson

Opportunities:

The Lund University/Skåne University Hospital is very pleased to host fellows under the Benedict Visiting Fellowship programme. The department of Rheumatology is a tertiary referral centre for patients with systemic sclerosis: over 400 patients are under regular review, most from southern Sweden but also patients from the very north. We have a research group with 3 associate professors, one laboratory engineer, one PhD student who is a fellow and one researcher who is a physiotherapist. The research programme has a strong focus on biomarkers for both fibrotic and vascular manifestations. From the clinical perspective, fellows will have the opportunity to attend systemic sclerosis clinics and ward rounds, take part of multidisciplinary rounds on PAH and ILD, and learn the technique of nailfold capillaroscopy (image acquisition and interpretation). From the research perspective, fellows will have the opportunity to attend research meetings, gain insights/experience into the running of a disease-based research programme, and (if appropriate) take part in ongoing research. Mentorship will be provided by Roger Hesselstrand, and also by Dirk M Wuttge and by Kristofer Andréasson.

UK

The University of Manchester and Salford Royal Hospital
Manchester
UK

Mentors:
Professor Ariane Herrick (ariane.herrick@manchester.ac.uk)
Dr Muditha Samaranayaka
Dr Andrea Murray

Opportunities:

The University of Manchester/Salford Royal Hospital is very pleased to host fellows under the Benedict Visiting Fellowship programme. Salford Royal Hospital is a tertiary referral centre for patients with systemic sclerosis: over 400 patients are under regular review. There is an enthusiastic inter-disciplinary research team including vascular technicians and post-doctoral physicists. The research programme has a strong focus on assessment and treatment of systemic sclerosis-related digital vasculopathy using non-invasive imaging techniques, and sits within the University of Manchester Centre for Musculoskeletal Research. From the clinical perspective, fellows will have the opportunity to attend systemic sclerosis clinics and ward rounds, and learn the technique of nailfold capillaroscopy (image acquisition and interpretation). From the research perspective, fellows will have the opportunity to attend research meetings, gain insights/experience into the running of a disease-based research programme, and (if appropriate) take part in ongoing research. Mentorship will be provided by Ariane Herrick, and also by Muditha Samaranayaka (clinical) and by Andrea Murray (research).

Spain

University Hospital 12 de Octubre
Madrid
Spain

Mentors:
Professor Patricia E Carreira (carreira@h12o.es)
Dr Maria Martin
Professor Jose Luis Pablos

Opportunities:

The University Hospital 12 de Octubre, in Madrid, welcome the visiting fellows coming under the Benedict Visiting Fellowship program. Our University Hospital is a tertiary referral centre for patients with systemic sclerosis, where we receive 40-50 new patients every year, and follow regularly more than 450 patients. We perform clinical research, mainly addressing risk factors for morbidity and mortality in the disease. From the Rheumatology Department, we coordinate a Multidisciplinary Autoimmune Diseases Unit, including pulmonologists, dermatologists, nephrologists, pulmonary hypertension experts and other specialists. The Department also has a research laboratory, focused in fibroblasts and mechanisms of fibrosis. From the clinical perspective, fellows will have the opportunity to attend systemic sclerosis, interstitial lung disease and pulmonary hypertension clinics and participate in multidisciplinary rounds. They could also attend the capillaroscopy clinic, being able to learn the technique of nailfold capillaroscopy (image acquisition and interpretation) and how to perform the skin score. From the research perspective, fellows will have the opportunity to attend research meetings, and see how a basic research project is designed and implemented. Mentorship will be provided by Patricia Carreira, and also by Maria Martin (clinical) and by Jose Luis Pablos (basic research).

Switzerland

Department of Rheumatology
University Hospital Zurich
University of Zurich
Switzerland.

Mentors:
Professor Oliver Distler (Oliver.Distler@usz.ch
PD Dr Gabriela Kania 
Dr Carina Mihai 

Opportunities:

The Department of Rheumatology at the University of Zurich has a long standing tradition of visiting academic guests and is very pleased to host fellows under the Benedict Visiting Fellowship programme. Providing both clinical and preclinical molecular biology research facilities, the Department of Rheumatology is a EULAR Center of Excellence due to its scientific output. Your academic visit can be used to get insights into and contribute to clinical or molecular-biology research projects of the Center and/or can be use to initiate own collaborative research projects and scientific grant applications with the home center. We cover all major aspects of SSc research. You will be integrated into the existing research groups of the Department depending on your main interest with direct daily interactions with the supervisor. Applicants have to be fluent in English.

Asia

Israel

Rambam Healthcare
Israel

Mentors:
Professor Balbir (a_balbir@rambam.health.gov.il)
Dr Braun

Opportunities:

Our institute is a tertiary referral center for systemic sclerosis patients and patients with connective tissue diseases. We have the largest cohort of SSc patients in Israel (above 400 patients); Prof. Balbir and Dr. Braun are active EUSTAR members; there is an active participation in the majority of EUSTAR projects. Recently in addition to EUSTAR we joined EUROMyositis registry (Dr. Tavor) Our institute has extensive experience in treating patients with connective tissue diseases and internal organ complications (lung and heart involvement in collagen diseases, pulmonary hypertension due to connective tissue disease, Raynaud’s syndrome, digital ulcers and gastrointestinal complications in autoimmune diseases). We have consulting out-patients' clinics, in-bed hospitalization for rheumatological patients, an active day-care clinic for administration of biological treatment and IVIG, multi-disciplinary clinics (including fibro-vascular clinic for patients with respiratory problems and rheumatic diseases and gastro-enterologic-rheumatic clinics for patients with rheumatic diseases and GI involvement).  We have close cooperation with ECHO and cardiac catheterization units.

The institute is an integral part of the Technion's Faculty of Medicine and students from Israel and abroad train here. The unit is also nationally recognized for its specialization in rheumatology. The institute is involved in numerous research projects including on scleroderma and capillaroscopy. There is an active clinical trials unit with RCT including in scleroderma.

The institute staff are active members of Israeli Rheumatology society, European and American rheumatology associations (EULAR, EUSTAR, and ACR). Prof. Balbir is a EUSTAR Counselor; Dr. Braun is a member of Israeli Rheumatology executive committee.

Singapore

Singapore General Hospital
Singapore

Mentors:

Dr Andrea Low (andrea.low.h.l@singhealth.com.sg)

Opportunities:

Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Department of Rheumatology and Immunology offers specialized care for patients with rheumatological conditions, and is a tertiary referral centre. In 2017, our Department was awarded the Centre of Excellence (2017) by the Asia-Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology (APLAR) for our work in research, training, education and patient care. In partnership with Actelion (Johnson and Johnson), our multi-disciplinary Cardiology, Respiratory and Rheumatology pulmonary hypertension clinic of more than 10 years, has contributed to the recognition of the National Heart Centre and SGH (located in the same campus) as a Centre of Excellence for Pulmonary Hypertension that serves as a reference centre for training and management of all causes of pulmonary hypertension. We have conducted week-long preceptorship attachments for doctors in the region.

SGH spear-headed and chairs the nation-wide collaborative systemic sclerosis (SSc) research workgroup comprising Rheumatologists from 5 institutions, led by Dr Andrea Low. The Systemic Sclerosis Cohort, Singapore (SCORE) has more than 600 patients, with systematic collection of biospecimens in well-phenotyped patients. Dr Low leads the APLAR special interest group in SSc/ myositis, and is a member of the Scleroderma Clinical Trials Consortium. We have a comprehensive SSc program, committed to provide quality multi-disciplinary patient care as well as conducting innovative research to advance our understanding and develop new treatments in SSc. Our clinical research provides SSc patients opportunities to participate in clinical trials as well as translational research. Helmed by 3 consultant Rheumatologists, we run 3 SSc clinics per week, a monthly combined pulmonary hypertension clinic with our cardiologists and respiratory physicians, and a weekly nailfold capillaroscopy service. Our multi-disciplinary care team comprise of specialists including Rheumatologists, Cardiologists, Respiratory physicians, Gastroenterologists and Dermatologists. Our Rheumatology specialist nurses and pharmacists run the monitoring clinic for stable SSc patients, and the nurses run the nailfold capillaroscopy clinic.

SGH has dedicated in-patient beds for patients with rheumatological conditions, out-patient clinics at our Autoimmunity and Rheumatology Centre (ARC) and Immunology Hub with facilities for administration of biological treatment. As a major teaching hospital in Singapore, our Department is also committed to training the next generation of physicians, Rheumatologists and clinician-scientists.

Australia

Melbourne

St. Vincent’s Hospital
Melbourne
Australia

Mentors:
Professor Mandana Nikpour (m.nikpour@unimelb.edu.au)
Dr Wendy Stevens (wendy.stevens@svha.org.au)
Professor Suzanna Proudman (sproudman@internode.on.net)

Opportunities:

St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, one of the teaching hospitals of the University of Melbourne, is the lead coordinating centre for the Australian Scleroderma Cohort Study (ASCS). Since its inception over ten years ago, the ASCS has produced impactful research contributions to improve outcomes in scleroderma. Dozens of fellows have undertaken clinical and research training with investigators of the ASCS, developing expertise in scleroderma care and producing publications leading to research higher degrees. ASIG Principal Investigators Prof Mandana Nikpour and Dr Wendy Stevens would be pleased to welcome Benedict Visiting Fellows who during their fellowship would receive both clinical and research experience in scleroderma. An additional opportunity exists during this fellowship to also visit Royal Adelaide Hospital (Adelaide, South Australia) under supervision of ASIG Principal Investigator, Prof Susanna Proudman.

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