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Linda Coley Sewell Distinguished Professor of Medicine Associate Professor of Medicine Director, UNC Rheumatology Lupus Clinic Director, Clinical Trials Program at UNC’s Thurston Arthritis Research Center

Areas of Interest

Diagnosis and management of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE / Lupus), Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and urticaria (hives).

About

Dr. Saira Sheikh is trained, and board certified in Internal Medicine, Rheumatology and Allergy/Immunology. She is the Linda Coley Sewell Distinguished Professor of Medicine at UNC. She is the Director of the Clinical Trials Program at the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center, as well as the UNC Rheumatology Lupus Clinic. Her work focuses on answering scientific questions that directly impact the care of patients with complex immunologic diseases, such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Sjogren’s syndrome. She is Principal Investigator on numerous clinical trials for new therapeutics, and leads translational projects focused on understanding the development of prognostic markers for autoimmune disease. She has received NIH funding in collaboration with a local biotech company to commercialize the development of novel cell based assays to diagnose and track autoimmune diseases. Using cutting-edge insights in immunology, her team strives to better understand and treat autoimmune diseases. She is leading national initiatives to develop real-world, practical models to promote inclusion of patients of racial and ethnic minorities in lupus clinical trials, particularly using technology-based applications. In April 2019, she was invited to speak at the National Academy of Sciences to share her work focused on health literacy in clinical trials (https://doi.org/10.17226/25616). Dr. Sheikh is the Vice-Chair of the Lupus Clinical Investigators Network (LuCIN), which is largest lupus clinical trials network of academic centers in the United States and Canada (https://lupustherapeutics.org/about/). She recently completed a 3-year term on the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Annual Meeting Planning Committee and has served as Co-Chair of the ACR’s Annual Review Course. She is actively involved in the education of patients, medical students, residents, and sub-specialty fellows. Dr. Sheikh is a skilled physician, researcher, and educator. She has an outstanding reputation for her expertise amongst patients and colleagues across the institution and nationally and patients travel from all 100 North Carolina counties and from around the country to see her in clinic. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (FAAAAI), the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (FACAAI) and of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). She also serves on the Medical-Scientific Advisory Council for the Lupus Foundation of America.

Education and Training

  • Undergraduate N/A
  • Medical School King Edward Medical University
  • Residency University of Arizona
  • Fellowship University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“We define success for our programs as a dynamic state influenced by how well we design and deliver information that matches patients’ abilities, needs and preferences,” Dr. Saira Sheikh

Bibliography

Book Chapters

  1. Sheikh SZ. 2020 Critical conversations in clinical trials. In: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2020. Health Literacy in Clinical Research: Practice and Impact: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. p 58-68. https://doi.org/10.17226/25616. ISBN 978-0-309-49969-9
  2. Sheikh SZ, Burks AW. 2014. Oral allergen immunotherapy for food. In: Akdis CA, Agache I, editors. Global Atlas of Allergy. Zurich (Switzerland): European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. p. 309-310.

Published Original Research

  1. Ginzler E, Guedes Barbosa LS, D’Cruz D, Furie R, Maksimowicz-McKinnon K, Oates J, Barreto Santiago M, Saxena A, Sheikh S, Bass DL, Burriss SW, Gilbride JA, Groak JG, Miller M, Pierce A, Roth DA, Ji B. 2022. EMBRACE: Phase 3/4, Randomized, 52-Week Study of Belimumab Efficacy and Safety in Patients of Black African Ancestry With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Arthritis and Rheumatology, 74(1):112-123. doi: 10.1002/art.41900. Epub 2021 Dec 9. PMID: 34164944.
  2. Allen KD, Beauchamp T, Rini C, Keefe FJ, Bennell KL, Cleveland RJ, Grimm K, Huffman K, Hu DG, Santana A, Saxena Beem S, Walker J, Sheikh SZ. 2021. Pilot Study of an Internet-Based Pain Coping Skills Training Program for Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. BMC Rheumatology, 5(20). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41927-021-00191-6 3. Cooley I, Derebail VK, Gibson KL, Alvarez C, Poulton CJ, Blazek LN, Love A, Hogan SL, Jennette JC, Falk RJ, Sheikh SZ. 2021. Association of Lupus Nephritis Histopathologic Classification with Venous Thromboembolism – Modification by Age at Biopsy. Kidney International Reports, 6(6): p1653-1660. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ekir.2021.02.015 4. Williams JN, Dall’Era M, Lim SS, Feldman CH, Arntsen KA, Blazer AD, Goode T, Merrill JT, Sheikh S, Stevens AM, Lipsky PE, Costenbader KH. 2020. Increasing Ancestral Diversity in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Clinical Studies. Arthritis Care & Research. PMID: 33026693. DOI: 10.1002/acr.24474.
  3. Sheikh SZ, Scheinberg MA, Wei JCC, Tegzova D, Stohl W, Acayaba de Toledo R, Mucenic T, Banfi MRA, Maksimowicz-McKinnon K, Abud-Mendoza C, Navarra S, Garcia M, Garcia-De La Torre I, Ros JO, Levy RA, Bass D, Terrés JR, Punwaney R, Harris J, Nami A, Pierce A, Thorneloe KS, Ji B, Roth D. 2020. Mortality and adverse events of special interest with intravenous belimumab for adult patients with active, auto-antibody-positive systemic lupus erythematosus (BASE): a multicentre, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, Phase 4 trial. The Lancet Rheumatology (in press, available online). DOI: 10.1016/S2665-9913(20)30355-6
  4. Englund TR, Kinlaw AC, Sheikh SZ. 2020. Rise and Fall: Hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19 Global Trends: Interest, Political Influence, and Potential Implications. ACR Open Rheumatology 2 (12): p760-766. DOI: 10.1002/acr2.11207
  5. Sheikh SZ, Iglesia EGA, Underwood M, Saxena-Beem S, Kwan M. 2019. Perceptions of a Continuing Medical Education Activity to Increase Knowledge of Vaccination in Adults with Chronic Inflammatory Conditions Among Clinicians. Lupus: Open Access 4(2):146. PMID: 32051964. DOI: 10.35248/2684-1630.19.4.146
  6. Sheikh SZ, Wanty NI, Stephens J, Holtz KD, McCalla S. 2019. The State of Lupus Clinical Trials: Minority Participation Needed. J. Clin. Med.8(8), 1245. PMID: 31426523. DOI: 10.3390/jcm8081245
  7. Sun EY, Alvarez C, Sheikh SZ2019. Association of Lupus Nephritis with Coronary Artery Disease by ISN/RPS Classification: Results from a Large Real-World Lupus Population. ACR Open Rheumatology. DOI: 10.1002/acr2.1035
  8. Sheikh SZ, Kaufman K, Gordon BB, Hicks S, Love A, Walker J, Callahan LF, Cleveland RJ. 2019. Evaluation of the Self-Directed Format of Walk With Ease in Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: The Walk-SLE Pilot Study. Lupus 28(6):764-770. PMID: 31042128. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0961203319846387
  9. Sheikh SZ, Hammer AE, Fox NL, Groark J, Struemper H, Roth D, Gordon D. 2016. Evaluation of a novel autoinjector for subcutaneous self-administration of belimumab in systemic lupus erythematosus. J. Clin. Pharmacol. Ther. 54(11): 914-922. PMID: 27668697. DOI: 10.5414/CP202623.
  10. Sheikh SZ, Burks AW. 2013. Recent advances in the diagnosis and therapy of peanut allergy. Expert Rev. Clin. Immunol. 9(6): 551-560. PMID: 23730885. DOI: 10.1586/eci.13.33.

 Expert Commentary 

  1. Sheikh SZ, Englund T. Increasing Participation of Underrepresented Groups in Lupus Clinical Trials: Insights From Patients and Physicians [published online January , 2022] Rheumatology Advisor. https://www.rheumatologyadvisor.com/home/topics/systemic-lupus-erythematosus/increasing-participation-underrepresented-groups-in-lupus-clinical-trials/ 2. Sheikh SZ, McCormick E, Dickson T, Underwood M, Kwan M. Pneumococcal Vaccination in Patients With Immunocompromising Conditions [published online August 11, 2021]. Almanac. https://almanac.acehp.org/Outcomes/Outcomes-Article/TitleLink/Pneumococcal-Vaccination-in-Patients-With-Immunocompromising-Conditions
  2. Sheikh S. Diversity in lupus clinical trials: why is it important? [published online May 15, 2019]. Rheumatology Consultant. https://www.consultant360.com/exclusive/rheumatology/lupus/diversity-lupus-clinical-trials-why-it-important

 Published Abstracts 

  1. Gilkeson G, Kamen D, Lim S, Ramsey-Goldman R, Kalunian K, Sheikh S, Ishimori M, Wallace D. Interim Analysis of Cohort 1 in the Mesenchymal Stromal Cell Trial in Systemic Lupus Erythematosis: Safety and Data Management During the Pandemic. Arthritis Rheumatol. 9 Nov 2021; 73 (suppl 10), abstract number 1770.
  2. Sheikh SZ, Naylor ML, Lane B, Sacks J, Gaiha-Rohrbach J, Butts C. Increasing Participation of Underrepresented Groups in Lupus Clinical Trials: Insights from Qualitative Interviews with Patients and Physicians. Arthritis Rheumatol. 9 Nov 2021; 73 (suppl 10), abstract number 1755.
  3. Chandramouli S, Alvarez C, Silverstein R, Sheikh S. Teratogenic Medication Use Associated with Favorable Odds of Contraception Counseling in a Cohort of Women with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus at a Large Tertiary Academic Medical Center. Arthritis Rheumatol. 9 Nov 2021; 73 (suppl 10), abstract number 1716.
  4. Dickson T, Englund T, McCormick E, Cleveland B, Allen K, Santana A, Saxena Beem S, Walker J, Sheikh S. Perceived Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Physical Activity Among Adult Patients with Rheumatologic Disease. Arthritis Rheumatol. 9 Nov 2021; 73 (suppl 10), abstract number 1593.
  5. Englund T, Sheikh S, Cleveland B, McCormick E, Schiller C, Dickson T. ACT for Lupus: Pilot Study of a Novel Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Online Program to Support Patients with Lupus During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Arthritis Rheumatol. 9 Nov 2021; 73 (suppl 10), abstract number 1592.
  6. Sheikh S, Wei C, Tegzova D, Stohl W, Acayaba de Toledo R, Mucenic T, Abello Banfi M, Maksimowicz-McKinnon K, Abud-Mendoza C, Navarra S, Garcia M, Garcia-De La Torre I, Kurrasch R, Fernandes S, Harris J, Muzaffar S, Fox N, Liu A, Quasny H, Roth D. Year-3 Observational Follow-up of Belimumab Safety (Mortality and Malignancies) in Patients with SLE Who Completed a Phase 4, 52-Week, Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Safety Study [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 8 Nov 2021; 73 (suppl 10), abstract number 1302.
  7. Englund T, McCormick E, Dickson T, Sheikh SZ. Cascading effects of interest and demand for COVID-19 treatments: Context and implications of the hydroxychloroquine saga among patients with lupus. 2021 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Expo, Abstract 2097.0, 2021. https://apha.confex.com/apha/2021/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/502099
  8. Englund T, Dickson T, McCormick E, Cleveland R, Allen K, Sheikh SZ. Physical activity and symptoms of depression and anxiety in patients with rheumatologic disease during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2021 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Expo, oral presentation, 2021. https://apha.confex.com/apha/2021/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/502302
  9. Sheikh SZ, Naylor ML, O’Callaghan L, Sladkeviciute L, Gaiha-Rohrback J, Butts C. Increasing Access and Quality of Care for Individuals from Underrepresented Communities Living with Lupus: Insights from Qualitative Interviews with Patients and Physicians. Presented at the Lupus 21st Century Conference. Lupus Science & Medicine 2021;8:doi: 10.1136/lupus-2021-lupus21century.54
  10. Sheikh SZ, Scheinberg MA, Wei JCC, Tegzova D, Stohl W, Mucenic T, Punwaney R, Kurrasch R, Harris J, Muzaffar S, Fernandes S, Fox NL, Liu A, Quasny H, Roth DA. Safety of Belimumab in Patients with Active Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Year 2 Follow-up of a Large Phase 4 Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. 2021. Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR) 2021, abstract AB0288. http://scientific.sparx-ip.net/archiveeular/?c=a&searchfor=sheikh&view=1&item=2021AB0288
  11. Thålin C, Aguilera K, Hall NW, Marunde MR, Burg JM, Rosell A, Daleskog M, Hisada Y, Meiners MJ, Sun ZW, Whelihan MF, Cheek MA, Howard SA, Saxena-Beem S, Noubouossie DF, Key NS, Sheikh SZ, Keogh MC, Cowles MW, Lundström S, Mackman N, Wallén H, Johnstone AL. 2021. Quantification of citrullinated histones in human blood samples: challenges and development of an improved nucleosome-based assay to reliably quantify H3Cit-DNA in human plasma. 10th International Conference on Thrombosis and Hemostasis Issues in Cancer (ICTHIC), poster PO-105. https://www.icthic.com/user/download.aspx?FILE=OBJ00420.PDF&TIPO=FLE&NOME=Icthic_2021_definitive_program
  12. Werth VP, Furie R, Romero-Diaz J, Navarra S, Kalunian K, van Vollenhoven R, Nyberg F, Kaffenberger B, Sheikh S, Radunovic G, Huang X, Carroll H, Gaudreault F, Meyers A, Barbey C, Musselli C, Franchimont N. 2020. BIIB059, a humanized monoclonal antibody targeting BDCA2 on Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells, shows dose-related efficacy in the Phase 2 LILAC study in participants with active Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus [abstract 0986]. Arthritis Rheumatol.; 72 (suppl 10). https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/biib059-a-humanized-monoclonal-antibody-targeting-blood-dendritic-cell-antigen-2-on-plasmacytoid-dendritic-cells-shows-dose-related-efficacy-in-a-phase-2-study-in-participants-with-active-cutaneous/
  13. Sheikh S, Acayaba de Toledo R, Geraldino-Pardilla L, Harris J, Kurrasch R, Liu A, Maksimowicz-McKinnon K, Quasny H, Roth D, Soto L, Punwaney R. 2020. Mortality and Adverse Events of Special Interest in Adult Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Receiving Intravenous Belimumab: A Post Hoc Descriptive Summary of Serious Psychiatric Events [abstract 0854]. Arthritis Rheumatol.; 72 (suppl 10). https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/mortality-and-adverse-events-of-special-interest-in-adult-patients-with-systemic-lupus-erythematosus-receiving-intravenous-belimumab-a-post-hoc-descriptive-summary-of-serious-psychiatric-events/
  14. Sun EY, Alvarez C, Callahan LF, Sheikh S2020. Disparities in Patient Portal Use Among Patients with Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases in a Large Academic Medical Center [abstract 0049]. Arthritis Rheumatol.; 72 (suppl 10). https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/disparities-in-patient-portal-use-among-patients-with-rheumatic-and-musculoskeletal-diseases-in-a-large-academic-medical-center/
  15. Allen KD, Beauchamp T, Rini C, Keefe FJ, Cleveland B, Grimm K, Huffman K, Hu D, Santana AE, Saxena Beem S, Walker J, Sheikh S2020. Pilot Study of an Internet-Based Pain Coping Skills Training Program for Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus [abstract 1146]. Arthritis Rheumatol.; 72 (suppl 10). https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/pilot-study-of-an-internet-based-pain-coping-skills-training-program-for-patients-with-systemic-lupus-erythematosus/
  16. Sheikh S, Wanty N, Mccalla S, Santana A, Saxena Beem S, Walker J, Holt D, Howell A, Holtz K, Williams S, Anandrajah A. A model to improve minority patient recruitment in lupus clinical trials – the American College of Rheumatology MIMICT project experience. Abstract accepted to the 2020 European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) E-Congress, June 2020Ann Rheum Dis 2020; 79 (supp 1): 1963 (AB1360-HRP (2020))
  17. Cooley ID, Gibson KL, Derebail VK, Alvarez C, Poulton CJ, Blazek LN, Love A, Hogan SL, Jennette JC, Falk RJ, Sheikh SZ. Venous Thromboembolism in Lupus Nephritis by ISN/ROS Biopsy Classification. Poster presentation at the 2019 ASN Conference. J Am Soc Nephrol, 30: 2019; p 668 (Abstract FR-PO879) https://www.asn-online.org/education/kidneyweek/2019/program-abstract.aspx?controlId=3235941
  18. Cooley I, Derebail V, Gibson K, Alvarez C, Poulton C, Blazek L, Love A, Hogan, S, Jennette JC, Falk RJ, Sheikh SZ. The Association of Lupus Nephritis Histopathologic Classification with Venous Thromboembolism is modified by Age at Biopsy. Poster presentation at the 2019 ACR/ARP Meeting. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2019; 71 (suppl 10). https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/the-association-of-lupus-nephritis-histopathologic-classification-with-venous-thromboembolism-is-modified-by-age-at-biopsy/