Vasculitis is a medical term that defines a diverse family of rare diseases that cause injury to blood vessels by inflammation. The physician must be able to distinguish the different types of vasculitis, their risk to individual organ systems, and the best form of treatment for each person's vasculitis. In the Center for Vasculitis Care and Research at the Cleveland Clinic, our physicians deal with the entire spectrum of these illnesses on a regular basis.
Cleveland Clinic's Board of Governors recognized that patients with vasculitis were profoundly underserved and that an organized multidisciplinary approach was required for meaningful progress to occur. As a result, in 1999, The Center for Vasculitis Care and Research was established within the Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Diseases. Together with the Harold C. Schott (HCS) Foundation, an endowed Chair was established to better ensure that vasculitis research would forever be part of the medical culture of Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Gary Hoffman, the former Director of Vasculitis and Related Disease Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was the first recipient of the HCS Chair. In 2011, Dr. Carol Langford who came from the same vasculitis research unit at the NIH became the second recipient of the HCS Chair.
The Center for Vasculitis Care and Research is comprised of a core group of physicians, nurse practitioners, study coordinators, and scientists who have a dedicated commitment to vasculitis. As the Center provides care to people of all ages, this includes specialists for both adult and pediatric patients. As the vasculitic diseases are complex and can affect a diverse range of organs, the development of collaborations between Center members and Cleveland Clinic physicians from many different disciplines has been invaluable in providing skilled care to patients using a team-based approach.
Although we feel that we bring unique skills and experience to the care of patients with vasculitis, this is not enough. Most of the diseases discussed on this page do not have a known cause or a cure. There is no question that modern treatments have converted many of these once fatal conditions into chronic illnesses. However, we recognize that there remains many challenges to be faced in the future and that safer, effective therapies need to be identified. This can be best accomplished by research efforts focused on uncovering the causes of vasculitis, which will best provide a chance to cure these illnesses.
Our clinical care and research units are intended to provide you with state-of-the-art treatment, and allow us to share with you the latest advances for the future. In addition to research being performed at the Cleveland Clinic, Center members have worked closely with other vasculitis investigators throughout the world. The first organized network that firmly established the ability of investigators to conduct large scale clinical trials in vasculitic disease was the International Network for the Study of Systemic Vasculitides (INSSYS). INSSYS was founded by Dr. Hoffman and was moved from the NIH to Cleveland Clinic when he arrived in 1992. The success of this infrastructure demonstrated the ability of a network to conduct large-scale research in vasculitis. The conduct of collaborative studies has been further expanded by the establishment of the Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium (VCRC) funded through NIH which is lead by Dr. Peter Merkel at the University of Pennsylvania and in which the Cleveland Clinic Center for Vasculitis Care and Research is an active participant. Studies being conducted through the VCRC that involve large numbers of patients with vasculitis will allow investigators to better understand the course of these illnesses and provide a means of examining markers of disease activity and new medications in vasculitis. This broad body of research that being conducted here at the Cleveland Clinic and through collaborations with scientists and investigators at other institutions will provide us with the best ability to make meaningful advancements for vasculitis patients.
The Center for Vasculitis Care and Research has also long recognized that providing education about vasculitis to patients, trainees, and physicians is central to our mission. The Center continues to expand these goals through educational venues such as patient and caregiver symposia, the vasculitis fellowship, and vasculitis-based CME programs for physicians.
Since its inception, the Center for Vasculitis Care and Research has been at the forefront of important initiatives in patient care, research, and education. It will remain our commitment to those with vasculitis to provide them with expert care today, to pursue research that will improve their tomorrows, and to train those who will apply these advancements to their care in the future.
Education about vasculitis is an essential part of the mission of the Center for Vasculitis Care and Research. Medical students, residents and fellows rotate with members of the Center, seeing patients with vasculitis.
The Center also offers a dedicated Fellowship in vasculitis that seeks to train clinicians and investigators who wish to pursue a career in vasculitis. Fellows who have completed our program have gone on to make substantial contributions to those with vasculitis.
In collaboration with The R.J. Fasenmyer Center for Clinical Immunology, the Vasculitis Center has hosted a number of CME activities to provide updated education for physicians about vasculitis. Active vasculitis-focused CME programs can be found at www.ccfcme.org