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lermanm [at] chop.edu
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Room 10107

3501 Civic Center Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Research Topics
Melissa A. Lerman, MD, PhD, MSCE
Melissa A. Lerman
Attending Physician

Dr. Lerman's research interests include non-infectious uveitis and temporomandibular (TMJ) arthritis. Her studies examine the utility of biologic agents to achieve, and maintain, uveitis control. Up to 80 percent of children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) have potentially erosive TMJ arthritis, and she is exploring ways to best identify and monitor this often asymptomatic manifestation of JIA.

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Bio

Uveitis, inflammation of the eye, commonly occurs in rheumatologic diseases and may affect ~20% of children with JIA. Uveitis can be vision threatening, even resulting in blindness. Although treated with a combination of topical and systemic immunomodulatory therapies there is limited understanding of the impact of the systemic medications on the natural history of uveitis.

Dr. Lerman studies the outcomes of children treated with biologic agents (e.g. cytokine blockade) for uveitis. She has described how quickly uveitis is controlled under anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha therapies (anti-TNFa), and how long disease remains quiet once anti-TNFa is discontinued. Along with colleagues from the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA), she is studying the effectiveness of newer biologic agents to treat uveitis nonresponsive to anti-TNFa. She participated in the development of CARRA consensus treatment guidelines for uveitis. Along with an ophthalmology colleague, Dr. Lerman co-founded and co-directs one of the few combined rheumatology-ophthalmology uveitis clinics in the nation, the Uveitis Coordinated Care Clinic.

Up to 75 percent of children with JIA develop arthritis of the jaw (TMJ). It can result growth abnormalities (overbite, small jaw, jaw asymmetry), functional limitations and orofacial pain. Together with specialists from oral and maxillofacial surgery, Dr. Lerman is examining the long-term effects of TMJ arthritis on facial deformity and dysfunction in adults with JIA. As TMJ arthritis is most often painless, it is challenging to diagnose. As co-leader of the CARRA TMJ workgroup, she works to find better ways to identify and monitor jaw involvement in JIA.

In the long term, Dr. Lerman plans to use the results from these studies to inform the development of standardized screening and treatment guidelines for children with JIA.

Education and Training

BA, Yale University (Biology), 1996

PhD, University of Pennsylvania (Immunology), 2003

MD, University of Pennsylvania, 2005

Fellowship, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (Rheumatology), 2011

MSCE, University of Pennsylvania (Clinical Epidemiology), 2012

Titles and Academic Titles

Attending Physician

Associate Fellowship Director, Pediatric Rheumatology

Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics

Professional Memberships

American Academy of Pediatrics, 2005-2008

American College of Rheumatology, 2009

Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance, 2010

Professional Awards

Goldie Simon Summer Preceptorship Award, Lupus Foundation of SE PA, 2001

Keystone Symposia Scholarship Winner, 2002

ACR REF Rheumatology Fellowship Training Award, 2008-2009

Publication Highlights