Uma Thanarajasingam, M.D., Ph.D., is a clinician, educator and researcher in the Division of Rheumatology at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Thanarajasingam's research is focused on the translational study of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatic immune-related adverse events (irAEs), which occur as a consequence of immunotherapy for cancer treatment.
- SLE. Dr. Thanarajasingam is studying the impact of type I interferon on the human immune response in SLE at the bench to better understand differential clinical outcomes and response to treatment in subgroups of patients with SLE at the bedside. She is a member of the Connective Tissue Disease subspeciality group within the Division of Rheumatology and sees a large portion of new and established lupus patients at Mayo Clinic. As a member of the Lupus Clinical Investigator Network (LuCIN), she leads efforts at Mayo to increase participation in lupus preclinical and clinical trials.
- Immune-related adverse events. Dr. Thanarajasingam has been at the forefront of efforts to clinically characterize and understand the best therapeutic approaches for patients who develop rheumatic immune-related adverse events as a consequence of various immunotherapeutic approaches for cancer. She is a member of the Immunotherapy Toxicity Working Group at Mayo, a multidisciplinary group of clinicians and researchers, as well as a national consortium of collaborative rheumatologists and oncologists working to create a national biorepository of rheumatic irAE samples to accelerate mechanistic research in this field. In collaboration with Hu Zeng, Ph.D., at Mayo, her research is focused on the better understanding of the clinical and immunologic risk factors for the development of irAEs and the immunological derangements that underlie specific irAEs.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Thanarajasingam hopes that through her lupus research, patients may be better able to understand which drugs may work for their disease subtype, and that by recruiting patients to clinical trials of various phases, accelerate the development of novel therapeutics for lupus, a critical unmet need in this field.
In the realm of irAEs, a relatively novel field of medicine, Dr. Thanarajasingam seeks to better understand the clinical phenotypes and underlying immunologic abnormalities in these patients. She hopes to improve detection and treat patients with irAEs, while still maintaining a robust anti-cancer response that allows patients to continue accessing life-saving cancer treatments.
- Co-investigator (RO-1 AR 77518) "Immune Checkpoint Inhibition and humoral immune response in systemic autoimmunity" funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 2021-2026
- Mayo Clinic Department of Medicine Laureate Award, 2020