ACR Journals on Air Podcast


Welcome to ACR Journals on Air, the ACR’s newest podcast series featuring interviews, commentary, and analysis on research from our three peer-reviewed journals: Arthritis & Rheumatology, Arthritis Care & Research, and ACR Open Rheumatology. Join us each episode for engaging discussions with authors and independent experts about recently published studies, their implications for clinical care, and how they move the field of rheumatology forward.

Whether it’s an expert analysis of a manuscript or deep dive with an author—our goal is the same—to understand the impact of the science and bring it from the bench to the bedside.

Podcast Host

Victoria Shanmugam

Victoria Shanmugam, MBBS, MRCP, CCD, has clinical expertise caring for patients with autoimmune diseases, vasculitis, and chronic wounds. She has led several research studies investigating scleroderma, hidradenitis suppurativa, and the interplay of the host immune response and the microbiome in chronic wounds. Dr. Shanmugam is a frequently invited speaker at professional meetings. Her work in wound healing, hidradenitis, and scleroderma has been published in high-impact peer-reviewed journals, such as Arthritis Care and Research, Current Opinion in Rheumatology, International Wound Journal, and Clinical Rheumatology. Connect with Dr. Shanmugam on Twitter (@VickiShanmugam).


New episodes will be available twice a month on Tuesdays.

Episode 41 – History of Interferon (Immunology for the Rheumatologist)

Episode 40 – The Scleroderma Cancer Connection

Episode 39 – Gut Feelings

Episode 38 – B-Cells In Sjögren's Syndrome

Episode 37 – Global Perspective on COVID-19

Browse previous episodes in the ACR Journals on Air archive.

Episode Show Notes

“If I have seen further, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants” Sir Isaac Newton famously stated in a letter to polymath scientist, Robert Hooke back in 1675. Today, Mary K. Crow, MD, aides as Arthritis & Rheumatology launches a series on immunology for rheumatologists. She is the co-author of the article, Standing on Shoulders: Interferon Research, from Viral Interference to Lupus Pathogenesis and Treatment. In this episode, we stand with Dr. Crow to look back at the achievements made by brilliant minds in interferon research and analyze the unbroken line their advancements in rheumatology and how they have led to today’s discoveries, with more to come.


Mary K. Crow, MD

Mary K. Crow, MD - Mary (Peggy) K. Crow, MD, is Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and Professor of Immunology in its Graduate School of Medical Sciences. Dr. Crow is also Mary K. Crow Chair in Immunology and Inflammation Research, Senior Scientist and Co-Director of the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research at Hospital for Special Surgery’s Research Institute. Dr. Crow received rheumatology training at the Hospital for Special Surgery and post-doctoral research training at Rockefeller University.

Dr. Crow’s research has focused on the induction and regulation of human autoimmune diseases, and she continues to investigate the cellular and cytokine mediators of immune system activation and inflammation in those disorders. She identified type I interferon as a critical contributor to the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus and investigates mechanisms of induction of interferon in lupus. Her leadership roles have included president of the ACR, president of the Henry Kunkel Society, chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Lupus Research Alliance, and she is the current chair of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee of the Arthritis Foundation. From 2010–2020 she served as Physician-in-Chief of the Hospital for Special Surgery. In 2017, Dr. Crow was named an honorary member of the European League Against Rheumatism, in 2018 she received the Presidential Gold Medal of the ACR in recognition of outstanding contributions to rheumatology over an entire career, and in 2022 she received the Lee C. Howley, Sr. Prize for Arthritis Scientific Research from the Arthritis Foundation.

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Is there an increased risk of cancer once a patient has scleroderma? If so, what is the risk and how does one go about showing this? Ami A Shah, MD, Director of the Division of Rheumatology at Johns Hopkins, sits down with us to explain those answers. We go over the methods, results and conclusions of the recent study, Distinct Scleroderma Autoantibody Profiles Stratify Patients for Cancer Risk at Scleroderma Onset and During the Disease Course, published in Arthritis & Rheumatology. Dr. Shah also shares with us her journey to becoming a physician-scientist and mentoring others in scleroderma research through a K24 grant.


Ami A. Shah, MD

Ami A. Shah, MD - Ami Shah, MD, is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Shah serves as the Director of the Division of Rheumatology and Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Scleroderma Center. She is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She completed her internal medicine residency training at Stanford University Hospital & Clinics and rheumatology post-doctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins. During her fellowship training, she earned her Master of Health Science in Clinical Investigation at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Dr. Shah’s clinical practice is focused on the broad spectrum of patients with scleroderma, Raynaud's phenomenon, and related fibrosis syndromes. Her clinical research program has focused on the interface between cancer and autoimmunity in scleroderma, myositis, and the newly emerging area of rheumatic immune related adverse events due to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. Dr. Shah also has an active research program in other clinical and therapeutic aspects of scleroderma, including early detection of cardiopulmonary complications and improving outcome measures and therapeutics for Raynaud's phenomenon.

Dr. Shah directs rheumatology precision medicine initiatives through the Johns Hopkins Individualized Health (inHealth) initiative.

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In this episode, we are joined by Zsuzsanna McMahan, MD, MHS, first author of the manuscript Anti-Gephyrin Antibodies: A Novel Specificity in Patients With Systemic Sclerosis and Lower Bowel Dysfunction. The study recognizes that the enteric nervous system (ENS) regulates the gastrointestinal (GI) function, which is commonly impaired in those who suffer from systemic sclerosis (SSc). Dr. McMahan and her team’s objective for this study was to identify novel anti-ENS autoantibodies with an aim to clinically phenotype SSc GI dysfunction. We discuss the study’s methods and discoveries. Plus, her experience transitioning from a junior to an independent investigator and what advice she can offer our young listeners for the journey along the way.


Zsuzsanna McMahan, MD, MHS

Zsuzsanna McMahan, MD, MHS - Zsuzsanna McMahan, MD, MHS, is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Co-Director of the Scleroderma Center at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston–McGovern Medical School. Dr. McMahan completed her internal medicine internship and residency at the University of Texas-Southwestern. She completed her Rheumatology Fellowship training at Johns Hopkins University and her master’s in health sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She then joined the faculty of the Johns Hopkins Scleroderma Center, where she was awarded a K23 grant from the National Institute of Health, with which she developed a gastrointestinal-focused clinical and translational research program in scleroderma. She was recently awarded an R01 from the National Institute of Health, which is focused on studying the lower bowel manifestations of scleroderma. She was recruited to co-direct the UTHealth Scleroderma Center, a position which she began in July of 2023. Dr. McMahan also co-directs the World Scleroderma Foundation ad hoc committee focused on the gastrointestinal complications of scleroderma and co-directs the Scleroderma Clinical Trials Consortium Gastrointestinal Working group. She is also the co-Chair of Finance for the American College of Rheumatology. She has published over 65 publications focused on scleroderma and the gastrointestinal complications of this disease.

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Tobit D. Steinmetz, PhD, is our guest this week, author of the manuscript recently published in Arthritis and Rheumatology, titled "Association of Circulating Antibody-Secreting Cell Maturity with Disease Features in Primary Sjögren’s Syndrome." Dr. Steinmetz and his team endeavored to better understand the hyperactivity observed among B cells, which play a major role in Primary Sjögren’s Syndrome (SS). To do this, he and the team examined the quantity, maturity, and inflammatory properties of Antibody Secreting Cells (ASCs) in the B cell effector branch, which became the focus of the study. Tune in to hear how this was done, what their observations and conclusions were, plus Dr. Steinmetz’s insights for those looking to enter a postdoctoral position.


Tobit D. Steinmetz, PhD

Tobit D. Steinmetz, PhD - Tobit D. Steinmetz, PhD, is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. He completed his master's and PhD at the University Clinic in Erlangen in Germany, including a research internship in the lab of Jason Cyster at UCSF in California. He is now building a research career in Dr. Frans Kroese's research group studying B cell function in Sjögren’s Syndrome.

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After a major event, it’s important to take stock of the causes of such an event, but just as important, on the reactions to it. No other event has challenged humanity in recent memory like COVID-19. In this episode we discuss the pandemic in relationship to its impact on those who suffer with rheumatic disease and examine the global response. Our guest is Evelyn Hsieh, MD, PhD, first author of the paper: Global Perspective on the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Rheumatology and Health Equity, which was recently published in Arthritis Care & Research.


Evelyn Hsieh, MD, PhD

Evelyn Hsieh, MD, PhD - Evelyn Hsieh, MD, PhD, is Associate Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology) and Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases) at the Yale Schools of Medicine and Public Health, and Chief of Rheumatology for the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. She has a longstanding dedication to global rheumatology training and research. As a rheumatologist and epidemiologist, Dr. Hsieh studies the impact of chronic infection and inflammatory disease (e.g., HIV and rheumatoid arthritis) on musculoskeletal outcomes such as osteoporosis, fracture, and sarcopenia in Peru, China, and the United States. Her research combines biomedical and behavioral approaches and has leveraged national cohorts and international registries to better understand drivers of risk for these outcomes. Dr. Hsieh’s work has been supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (Fogarty International Center, NIAMS, NCATS, NCI, NIA, NIAAA), Rheumatology Research Foundation, China Medical Board, and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. She co-founded the Yale Network for Global Non-Communicable Diseases, was a 2018-2019 U.S.-China Fulbright Scholar, and founding chair of the ACR Global Engagement Committee.

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