Elizabeth R. Volkmann, MD, MS

From the Chair of the UCLA Department of Medicine, "Reflections from the Chair — Week 38: Game Changers":

Our faculty impact communities and the pipeline, but also individual patients with medical conditions that are difficult to treat and require unique expertise. As such, I was pleased to learn that Dr. Elizabeth Volkmann, from the division of rheumatology, was recently recognized as the Doctor of the Year by the National Scleroderma Foundation. This award reflects Dr. Volkman’s commitment to improving the lives of people living with scleroderma, her outstanding skills in clinical practice and patient education.

Dr. Volkmann is a world renowned clinical and translational researcher in systemic sclerosis and connective tissue disease-related interstitial lung disease. Her research is focused on developing personalized treatment approaches for patients through the discovery of novel biomarkers. She launched the first study exploring the gut microbiome in patients living with systemic sclerosis and leads an international consortium of investigators who are advancing our understanding of how the gut microbiome in this patient population contributes to inflammation and onset of clinical symptoms.

We are fortunate to count on her leadership as the director of the UCLA Scleroderma Program and the founder/co-director of the UCLA Connective Tissue Disease-Related Interstitial Lung Disease Program. As Dr. Volkmann reflects on this special honor, she shared:

Scleroderma has the highest mortality rate of all rheumatic diseases. Patients with scleroderma often see multiple specialists before receiving the correct diagnosis, and this process can delay their access to life-saving therapies. Working with the scleroderma community has motivated me to help educate and empower all patients with this rare disease. These patients are true warriors, and their experiences inspire my research and commitment to ensuring that the voices of all patients with scleroderma are heard. I share this award with all my colleagues at UCLA who participate in the multidisciplinary care of patients with scleroderma.”  

You can learn more about Dr. Volkmann’s latest research in two of her recent publications in the American Journal of Respiratory Care Medicine and The Lancet Rheumatology.