The Rheumatology Research Foundation recently awarded the West Virginia University Charleston Division with a Pediatric Visiting Professorship. The award provides support for Dr. Jennifer Huggins, a board-certified professor of pediatric rheumatology, to visit the WVU Charleston Division and provide medical students and residents with valuable exposure to pediatric rheumatology.

Dr. Jennifer Huggins
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Dr. Huggins is board certified in pediatrics, internal medicine, allergy/immunology, pediatric and adult rheumatology. She was a primary care provider for internal medicine/pediatrics for 12 years before entering fellowship training for allergy/immunology/rheumatology. As a result of her primary care experience she is aware of the importance and complexities of vaccine administration. In addition to her responsibilities as the Pediatric Rheumatology Fellowship program director, she cares for a significant number of patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) as well as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in the division. Her current caseload includes over 70% of the SLE patients at Cincinnati Children’s. Dr. Huggins has already begun a pilot quality improvement project on improving the administration of appropriate pneumococcal vaccination in our SLE patients. This project builds logically on her previous primary care experience and current clinical work, and commitment to improving vaccination protection for immunocompromised patients.

Funding for the Pediatric Visiting Professorship is made possible through an endowment provided by Amgen, Inc. The funding is aimed at recruiting more pediatric rheumatologists to address a shortage in the field’s workforce. Currently, there are more than 240,000 children for every one board certified pediatric rheumatologist in the United States.

The Rheumatology Research Foundation announced the 85 rheumatology award recipients on July 1. The recipients, ranging from medical students and residents to experienced investigators and rheumatologists, will receive funding for essential education and training, as well as innovative research projects. Their applications were closely examined by experts in different areas of the field through an extensive peer review process.

In the 2017 fiscal year (July 1, 2016–June 30, 2017), the Foundation will fund an estimated 275 awards totaling nearly $10.48 million. Recipients of the remaining awards will be announced later this year.