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Pham named director of rheumatology division

Physician develops nanomedicine approaches for arthritis, other inflammatory diseases

by Tamara BhandariOctober 10, 2018

Washington University

Christine Pham, MD, a professor of medicine and of pathology and immunology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been named director of the Division of Rheumatology in the Department of Medicine.

“Dr. Christine Pham is an outstanding physician-scientist,” said Victoria J. Fraser, MD, the Adolphus Busch Professor and head of the Department of Medicine. “She brings great expertise in immunology, rheumatology and translational approaches to inflammatory arthritis and autoimmune diseases.”

Pham treats patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the John Cochran Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where she specializes in rheumatology.

“I am excited to work with an exceptional group of physicians and scientists to promote basic and translational research that will advance the health and health care of patients with rheumatic diseases,” Pham said. “I hope to leverage the expertise and resources at Washington University to build an integrated health-care delivery model that will elevate medical service quality by addressing the specific needs of individual patients.”

Pham focuses on rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic, incapacitating disease involving painful, swollen joints. She is working on developing treatment approaches that use nanoparticles to deliver drugs directly to inflammatory cells in the joints, specifically suppressing inflammation in the joints without affecting the rest of the body. Such targeted nanomedicine avoids the risks of current rheumatoid arthritis treatments, which dial down the immune system throughout the body and put people at risk of infection. Pham also studies how immune cells contribute to inflammatory responses in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

She recently received a grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund a rheumatic diseases research center at Washington University. The center will provide resources to accelerate basic and translational research into rheumatic diseases, potentially improving treatment for people suffering from arthritis, lupus, vasculitis, which is inflammation of the blood vessels, and scleroderma, an autoimmune disease characterized by hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues.

Pham received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and her medical degree from the University of Florida School of Medicine. She completed her residency and a fellowship in rheumatology at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital before joining the faculty in 1997.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 1,500 faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is a leader in medical research, teaching and patient care, ranking among the top 10 medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.