Monica Blied, PhD, MACL, is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and the owner of Faces of Health Wellness Center in Claremont, California. Dr. Blied specializes in helping individuals who are living with chronic medical illnesses to make sense of their ‘new normal’ and learn to thrive. Dr. Blied has expertise in mind-body wellness, whole-health interventions, and in providing psychological testing and neurocognitive evaluations. Her evaluations help her clients to identify and better manage symptoms of ADHD, Learning Disorders, and various psychiatric conditions.
Dr. Blied is the co-author of 12 journal articles, 4 book chapters, and over 60 local and national conference presentations. Dr. Blied is also a Biofeedback provider, EMDR therapist, certified Chair Yoga instructor, and Health Coach. She has served for 9 years on the executive committee of the American Psychological Association, Division of Women (Division 35) and for 5 years with the California Psychological Association, Division of Education & Training. Her previous work with clients living with chronic illnesses (e.g., HIV/AIDS and autoimmune diseases) includes providing therapy and neurocognitive testing at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience, Hubert Humphrey Comprehensive Health System, and at VA Hospitals in Northern and Southern California. You can connect with Dr. Blied through her website: www.drblied.com or on IG @dr.blied. More information on Dr. Blied’s evaluations for ADHD and learning disorders can be found at www.drblied.com/adhd/
Dr. Michal Cidon is an assistant professor of pediatrics and Program Director of the Rheumatology Fellowship Program at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA). She trained at Stanford University Medical Center with a focus on medical education. Dr. Cidon participated in the APA Educational Scholars Program, focusing on e-Learning in medical education. In 2012 she secured the ACR REF Clinical Scholars Education Award in this area.
She transitioned to CHLA in 2016. Her focus expanded to immune mediated lung disease after her involvement in the ILD-sJIA project. In the fall of 2018, she established the pulmonary division of the DLD Rheumatology Clinic at CHLA. The Clinic provides comprehensive diagnostic and therapeutic services to pediatric rheumatic patients with diffuse lung disease and patients with significant immune dysregulation impacting the lungs. The Clinic focuses on studies that evaluate factors and interventions that influence pulmonary clinical outcome in pediatric patients with immune dysregulation.
She serves as the PI on a study with Stanford Children’s Health and Mayo Clinic which focuses on validating an established imaging analysis technique in adults with diffuse lung disease (Computer-Aided Lung Informatics for Pathology Evaluation and Rating [CALIPER]) in children with systemic rheumatologic disease who have acute lung injury and signs of diffuse lung disease (pSRDLD). She is also involved in various research projects which are directed by the Children’s Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance ( CARRA) and is a member of the ChILD research network.
Lindsy J. Forbess, M.D., M.Sc., is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the department of rheumatology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She has a specific research interest in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and its relationship to lung disease, along with other autoimmune conditions, such as vasculitis and rheumatoid arthritis. She has a Master’s in Clinical Investigation and is involved in clinical trials for drug therapies for SLE as well as other studies involving genetics, biomarker discovery, and clinical trial outcome measure assessments. She has authored publications and textbook chapters related to SLE. She also has a busy clinical practice that she shares with her mother, Elayne Garber MD, where she cares for patients with SLE and other disorders.
Dr. Bevra Hahn is Professor of Medicine (emeritus) at UCLA. She chaired the Rheumatology Group at UCLA for 30 years. She has devoted her career to developing and using better treatments, and understanding the immune pathology underlying SLE. She now works in her office at UCLA approximately half-time, lectures, writes about SLE, consults for groups developing new treatments or tests, and serves on several committees for national organizations dedicated to improving life for people with SLE and other rheumatologic conditions.
Sherwin Hariri, MD, FACAAI, FAAAA is a board-certified allergist & immunologist who specializes in allergic rhinitis, food allergies, asthma, immunodeficiencies, atopic dermatitis (eczema), contact dermatitis and urticaria (gives). He has a special interest in anaphylaxis and chronic idiopathic urticaria.
He is a clinical instructor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA as visiting staff in the allergy & immunology fellowship program. He also has privileges at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and he teaches resident physicians from Cedars-Sinai who rotate through his clinic. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, and a fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
Mariko Ishimori, MD is the interim director of the Division of Rheumatology in the Department of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Health System and serves as the program director of the fellowship training program. Her specialty is rheumatology and her research has encompassed clinical and translational studies in rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and ankylosing spondylitis, including advanced cardiac imaging to assess for cardiac involvement in rheumatic diseases, clinical trials for novel therapies and preventative studies in families of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. She is Cedars-Sinai’s site co-leader of the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) and co-director of the Clinical and Translational Research Center. Dr. Ishimori is a fellow member of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), and serves on the Medical Advisory Board for Lupus LA.
Dr. Ishimori’s work has been published in prestigious journals, including Arthritis Care & Research, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Cardiovascular Imaging, Arthritis & Rheumatology, and Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, among others. Dr. Ishimori completed her undergraduate degree at Stanford University and medical school at New York Medical College.
Caroline Jefferies, PhD. joined the Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine and Department of Biomedical Sciences at Cedars Sinai as an Associate Professor in 2015. She joined Cedars from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) where she served as an Associate Professor of Immunology and Chair of Biochemistry and Immunology and Joint Chair of Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics. Dr. Jefferies has published over 50 peer-reviewed publications and serves as a reviewer and editor for many journals, including Immunity, Journal of Immunology, Clinical Immunology and Blood.
A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Dr. Jefferies’ work has focussed on uncovering the role the innate immune response plays in the development and pathology of systemic autoimmune diseases, particularly Lupus. To this end her uncovered novel regulators of type I interferons, which are important drivers of Lupus. This work has continued at Cedars, focusing on how these pathways impact ER stress and IFN regulation and drive pathology in Lupus.
David Lazar, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist with subspecialty training in medical and surgical diseases of the retina. He serves the Southern California community from his practice, Lazar Retina, in West Los Angeles. This state-of-the-art facility mimics Dr. Lazar’s dedication to providing the best treatment available for conditions that affect eye health and threaten vision. He’s also firmly committed to providing personalized, patient-focused care in a warm and welcoming environment.
As a vitreoretinal specialist, Dr. Lazar is well-known for his surgical skill and expertise in diagnosing and treating issues that affect the retina and the vitreous body. He offers innovative procedures and therapies to diagnose and treat a range of eye conditions, including macular degeneration, macular holes, macular pucker, retinal tears and detachments, vein occlusions, posterior vitreous detachment, and diabetic retinopathy.
Dr. Lazar was born and raised in Encino, California. He completed fellowship training in vitreoretinal diseases and surgery at the Lahey Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. While there, he also served as Clinical Associate at Tufts University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School.
Prior to his fellowship, Dr. Lazar was Chief Resident at the LSU/Ochsner Clinic Foundation program in New Orleans, Louisiana. During his time in New Orleans, he worked at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital providing retina care for Veterans experiencing eye conditions associated with aging, including complications from diabetes and high blood pressure, macular degeneration, and retinal detachments.
Dr. Lazar has presented his research findings at several national meetings including: the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS), the American Association of Ophthalmic Oncologists and Pathologists (AAOP), the American Uveitis Society (AUS), and the Southern Medical Association (SMA).
Dr. Lazar currently serves as a co-investigator in several national clinical trials for the treatment of dry and wet macular degeneration. He’s also frequently asked to provide a second opinion regarding treatment options for serious eye conditions. His patients can rely on his medical expertise and reap the benefits of his patient-first approach to eye care.
Dr. Christine Lee, a highly trained rheumatologist, brings personal experience and compassion to her work with patients. “A big part of rheumatology is the joints—arthritis and functional mobility,” she says. “I have been a ballet dancer since I was 4 years old and I understand how important it is to get up and be active, and how devastating it is when you can’t move.”
Dr. Lee’s father contracted polio in Taiwan when he was 2 years old. Disabled in his right lower leg, he walks with a crutch. Seeing how hard it was for him to get somewhere without the appropriate accessibility for disabled persons has helped Lee understand what her patients are striving for.
Dr. Lee grew up in a medical family. In addition to her father, who is an environmental toxicologist (Ph.D.), her brother is an urgent care physician. Seeing firsthand how medicine could change the lives of those around her and empower long-lasting relationships between physicians and patients sparked Dr. Lee’s desire to practice medicine. Rheumatology was a natural fit. “Autoimmune diseases like arthritis are chronic. Patients do get better, but the disease never goes away, so you see your patients for years on end and you have a chance to really get to know them. I find that very rewarding,” she explains.
Board-certified in Rheumatology and Internal Medicine, Dr. Lee earned her undergraduate degrees from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, majoring in both anthropology and biology. She received dual M.D. and M.P.H. degrees from the University of Texas School of Medicine and School of Public Health in San Antonio, TX, followed by an internship in Internal Medicine at Washington University’s Barnes-Jewish Hospital. In 2017, she completed a fellowship in Immunology and Rheumatology at Stanford University School of Medicine Hospital and Clinics, as well as training in musculoskeletal ultrasound at the Ultrasound School of North American Rheumatologists. In addition to her practice, Dr. Lee currently serves as co-investigator on 16 clinical trials through the Wallace Rheumatic Studies Center in Beverly Hills, CA.
Dr. Lee is a member of the Medical Advisory Board of LUPUS LA and is the medical honoree for the Arthritis Foundation 2019 Walk to Cure Arthritis. She has been a keynote speaker for the Lupus Foundation of America patient education event, “Lupus Learning & Living,” in Culver City, CA; a speaker at Lupus LA’s “Latest on Lupus” patient conference at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center; and a podcast speaker for The Expert Series through the Lupus Foundation of America.
Dr. Mahajan is a triple board-certified neurologist with extensive experience in the diagnosis and management of autoimmune neuromuscular diseases.
She completed her residency training in Neurology at University of Southern California. She then completed two fellowships, both in Neuromuscular Medicine, focusing on neuromuscular pathology at the University of Southern California and on neuro-electrodiagnostics and genetics at the University of California Los Angeles. Dr. Mahajan received her board certification in both Neurology and in Neuromuscular Medicine from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. She is also board certified in Clinical Neuromuscular pathology by the United Council of Neurologic Subspecialties. Dr. Mahajan is also a member of the Medical Advisory Board of the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of California.
With her multidisciplinary training, Dr. Mahajan is able to uniquely integrate cutting-edge genetic diagnostic techniques with muscle pathology and state-of-the-art laboratory sciences into her clinical management of autoimmune diseases such as lupus. Her expertise in clinical neuromuscular medicine allows Attune Health to provide advanced neurological care to patients with autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory myopathies/myositis. She is also a clinical investigator in several national industry sponsored and NIH sponsored clinical trials for autoimmune diseases such as myositis.
In addition to inflammatory neuromuscular diseases, Dr. Mahajan specializes in peripheral neuropathies, myasthenia gravis, motor neuron diseases, ALS and muscular dystrophies.
Dr. Mahajan brings a compassionate, patient-centered approach to her practice of medicine and has become a prominent and highly sought-after expert in the field. She has published in this field and enjoys lecturing frequently to residents, fellows, patients and peers about neuromuscular medicine. Dr. Mahajan is also an active member of the American Academy of Neurology, American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine and the World Muscle Society.
Katherine Anne Marzan, MD is an attending rheumatologist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, at Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California. In addition she is the Program Director of the Pediatric Rheumatology Fellowship Training Program and the Interim Division head of the Division of Rheumatology.
In her role, she cares for children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, dermatomyositis, vasculitis and other autoimmune conditions at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as well as Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, CA and the Children’s Specialty Center of Nevada where she is a consulting pediatric rheumatologist for outreach clinical services.
Dr. Marzan earned her M.D. at the University of the Philippines, and completed her pediatric internship and residency at Penn State Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA. Following her residency she completed a rheumatology fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, TX. Dr. Marzan is board certified in Pediatrics and Pediatric Rheumatology.
Her research interests include juvenile idiopathic arthritis, biologic agents and new therapies in pediatric rheumatic diseases, pediatric SLE, outcomes in Pediatric Rheumatic Diseases, and the education of physicians, patients, and families. She is also an investigator in multiple clinical trials.
Maureen A. McMahon is an Associate Professor and Associate Chief of the Division of Rheumatology at UCLA. Dr. McMahon has served as Clinical Director for the UCLA site of the Lupus Clinical Trial Center, and Site director and Steering Committee member of the LUCIN Lupus clinical trials network. She graduated from the University of Chicago Pritzker school of Medicine in 1997. She completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago in 2000, and also served as chief resident in Medicine in 2001. Dr. McMahon completed a fellowship in Rheumatology at UCLA in 2003, and received a master’s degree in Clinical Research from UCLA in 2005.
Dr. McMahon’s research has focused on identification of risk factors for progression of atherosclerosis and other forms of damage in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients. She has active lupus-related research grants from NIH and the Department of Defense. She is also the primary investigator for multiple industry sponsored and NIH sponsored clinical trials in lupus.
C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, holds the Irwin and Sheila Allen Chair in Women’s Heart Research, and is Director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center, the Linda Joy Pollin Women’s Heart Health Program, the Erika J Glazer Women’s Heart Research Initiative, and the Preventive Cardiac Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. She also is Professor of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Dr. Bairey Merz’s research interests include women and cardiovascular disease, mental stress and heart disease, the role of exercise and stress management in reversing disease, the role of cholesterol and nutrition management in heart disease, and adverse pregnancy outcomes and cardiovascular disease.
A prolific lecturer and member of many professional organizations, Dr. Bairey Merz, has received numerous investigational grants and chairs the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored WISE (Women’s Ischemic Syndrome Evaluation) initiative, investigating potential methods for more effective diagnosis and evaluation of ischemic heart disease in women.
Dr. Bairey Merz has received numerous awards and honors and her extensive scientific publication record spans 425+ scientific papers, 315+ abstracts, myriad book chapters, and countless peer-reviewed journals. Recognized as an authority on the subject of heart disease and stress, she has appeared frequently in print and broadcast media.
Dr. Bairey Merz earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Chicago, her medical degree at Harvard University, and completed her residency at the University of California, San Francisco, where she served as Chief Medical Resident before completing fellowships in clinical cardiology and nuclear cardiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Dr. Mizutani currently serves as the Chairman of the Department of Rheumatology for OPTUM Medical Group Region 6. Dr. Mizutani served as the Lead Principal Investigator for HealthCare Partners-California Clinical Research. Dr. Mizutani has more than 10 years of clinical research trial experience and has been serving as a principal investigator for more than 60 trials in Rheumatic related diseases. Dr. Mizutani received his MD from David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA with residency at USC Medical Center and rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, San Diego. In addition, he serves as the Chair of the California Advocacy Committee and a member of the National Advocacy Committee for the Arthritis Foundation.
Paul W. Noble, MD, received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Haverford College in Pennsylvania, and his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine. He completed his medical residency and chief residency at the University of California, San Francisco Hospitals. He completed his pulmonary and critical care fellowships at the University of Colorado and the National Jewish Center in Denver, Colorado.
From 1992–1997 Dr. Noble was Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he established the Interstitial Lung Disease Clinic. He moved to Yale University School of Medicine in 1997, where he became Professor of Medicine in 2004. He served as Director of the ILD Program at Yale-New Haven Hospital until 2006, when he moved to Duke University as the Chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine. In January 2013, he moved to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center as Chair of the Department of Medicine.
Dr. Noble is a physician scientist with an active research laboratory focused on elucidating the basic mechanisms of lung fibrosis. His research laboratory has been funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1992. Dr. Noble has been involved in industry-sponsored clinical trials evaluating new therapies in IPF and participated in both the pirfenidone and nintedanib programs that led to the first FDA approved treatments for IPF. He continues to have an active clinical practice in ILD.
Dr. Noble is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. He is also an elected council member of the Association of American Physicians.
Andreas Reiff, MD is the current Vice President and global therapeutic area head for Inflammation/Immunology at Parexel International Global Medical Services, a large Contract Research Organization (CRO) based in Boston, MA, USA. In addition he is an Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California and the former Division Head of the Division of Rheumatology at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. He was also the director of the Pediatric Rheumatology Program at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, California and a Visiting Clinical Associate Professor, at the Department of Pediatrics, University of Nevada School of Medicine.
Dr. Reiff received his medical degree from University Medical School in Freiburg, Germany. Following an internship in internal medicine and surgery at the Kantonsspital Liestal in Switzerland, he returned to Freiburg and completed his residency at the University Children’s Hospital.
He completed a research fellowship in the Division of Rheumatology and Bone Marrow Transplantation at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles between 1993 and 1994, and a fellowship in pediatric rheumatology at University Children’s Hospital in Freiburg from 1994 -1996.
Dr. Reiff’s primary expertise includes the treatment, management, and genetics of autoimmune diseases (AIDs), treatment of inflammatory and degenerative eye diseases, and alternatives to stem cell transplantation for the treatment of AIDs. He served as PI and coinvestigator on numerous clinical trials in immunology and inflammation and was a clinical consultant for several pharmaceutical companies.
In addition to authoring and co-authoring numerous journal articles, abstracts, reviews, and book chapters, he has lectured on rheumatologic topics nationally and internationally.
He is a well-known national and international speaker on biologic drug development and the treatment of chronic inflammatory eye diseases.
He is a member of the American College of Rheumatology, the Southern California Rheumatology Society, the pediatric rheumatology networks PRINTO and PRSCG and served on the advisory boards for the Arthritis Foundation, Lupus LA, and on several CHLA committees.
Dr. Reiff is board-certified in pediatrics and pediatric rheumatology by the European Union and the American Board of Pediatrics. He has received several honors, grants, and awards.
Vaneet K Sandhu, MD, RhMSUS is Associate Professor of Medicine at Loma Linda University. Her rheumatology fellowship was funded by lupus LA and she is now a practicing rheumatologist trained in musculoskeletal ultrasound and researcher with national and international collaborations in health services research in addition to local Lupus and Scleroderma registries at the University. Her more recent research includes lifestyle changes and their impact on rheumatic disease. She is an active member of the American College of Rheumatology’s (ACR) Communication and Marketing Committee and the American Federation for Medical Research, and is the proud mom of a set of rambunctious boy-girl twins.
For the past four decades, Dr. Jay Schapira has combined the disciplines of clinical medicine and cardiology with education and research through his practice at Cedars-Sinai. He is a Clinical Professor at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and also a Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCLA. He was recently honoured for his 40 years of service by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and as well is a recipient of many Circle of Friends “thank-you’s” from appreciative patients. As a past Lupus L.A. honoree in 2014, he remains a strong advocate and supporter of this amazing organization.
Dr. Schapira’s private practice of internal medicine and cardiology has included care of patients with lupus and heart disease. Lupus patients have atypical symptoms of heart disease and many patients who were not helped with standard diagnostic studies and treatments have had relief from the novel treatments that he, in collaboration with Daniel Wallace, M.D. ( as well as many other rheumatologists), are continuing to investigate.
Dr. Schapira’s love of medicine and his passion for helping people is greatly evident in his continual work for his patients, family, friends and community.
Dr. Schroeder is the past Clinical Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and a Clinical Instructor of Medicine at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. He received the Medical Visionary Award from Lupus LA in 2015 and has been chosen by Los Angeles Magazine as one of the best doctors in L.A. every year since 2012. Dr. Schroeder is also a primary investigator on clinical trials aimed at better treating lung disease.
Dr. Schroeder received his MD from New York Medical College where he also earned a Masters Degree in Physiology. Dr. Schroeder completed his medical training at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center before starting his private practice.
Dr. Venuturupalli, founder of Attune Health, is an innovative clinician and researcher in the field of rheumatology. After graduating from the Topiwala National Medical College in Mumbai, India, he completed his residency as Chief Resident at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. Dr. Venuturupalli also completed a rheumatology fellowship at UCLA/Olive View, during which time he received advanced training in health services research and conducted studies on complementary and alternative medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, dietary supplements and mind-body medicine.
Dr. Venuturupalli has dedicated himself to taking care of patients and conducting research that aims to find cures for rheumatic diseases. During his career, he has been involved in over 150 clinical trials of cutting-edge therapies for illnesses such as inflammatory muscle disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases. Dr. Venuturupalli is a sought-after teacher and is a core faculty member of the Cedars-Sinai Rheumatology fellowship program. He holds the title of Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. His current research efforts are focused on using technology, diet, and lifestyle to help patients with autoimmune diseases.
Dr. Venuturupalli is highly regarded by his colleagues and patients for his outstanding level of service, dedication to patients, and advanced treatment options that result from his medical research. He has been recognized for his efforts and has been on the LA Magazine’s Super Doctors list for over 10 years. Dr. Venuturupalli has held numerous prestigious positions, including secretary, treasurer, and president of the Southern California Rheumatology Society, Clinical Chief of the Division of Rheumatology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and currently serves as the Chairman of the Committee on Education at the American College of Rheumatology. He works with various philanthropic causes, including the Attune Health Foundation, Arthritis Foundation, and Lupus LA.
While Dr. Venuturupalli’s clinic is accepting only a few select patients with autoimmune diseases, Attune Health clinic and Dr. Venuturupalli’s associates are currently accepting patients for Rheumatology clinical care, infusion medicine, and clinical trials.
Clinical trials help to answer the question, “Will this drug help people and be safe to take?” At any given time, there are thousands of clinical trials being conducted. In the past several years, the number of lupus clinical trials has increased significantly. Lupus LA is a proud member of the National Coalition of state and local lupus organizations through the Lupus Research Alliance.
The National Coalition is dedicated to finding new and safer options for treating and preventing lupus. It is the National Coalition’s belief that together with you and thousands of lupus patients around the country, we can make a difference. Clinical trials are critical in the search for a better life for people with lupus. Participation of people with lupus in clinical research is the way to make this a reality.
To learn more about clinical trials and to see if you are a possible candidate, you can view more about clinical trials currently available below.