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Dr. Saira Sheikh evaluates a rheumatology patient.

Dr. Saira Z. Sheikh is trained, and board certified in Internal Medicine, Rheumatology and Allergy/Immunology. 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. Her projects apply an integrated approach of research, teaching, and clinical practice to advance team science through clinical trials, basic and translational research collaborations, and community-based studies. She is Principal Investigator on numerous clinical trials for new therapeutics, as well as Principal Investigator on translational projects focused on understanding the development of biomarkers in autoimmune disease.

Dr. Sheikh is leading national initiatives to develop real-world, practical models to promote inclusion of minority patients 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.

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.

Dr. Sheikh is actively involved in the education of patients, medical students, residents, and sub-specialty fellows.  She is a skilled physician, researcher, and educator. Dr. Sheikh has an outstanding reputation for her expertise amongst patients and colleagues across the institution and nationally, and patients travel 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 a member of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).

She also serves on the Medical-Scientific Advisory Council for the Lupus Foundation of America.

Dr. Sheikh is the current Vice-Chair of the Lupus Clinical Investigators Network (LuCIN):

To learn more about our program or collaborate with us, contact:, or 919-966-0545.

Or, to reach Dr. Saira Sheikh directly, please email her at:

Key Team Members: 

Saira Z Sheikh, MD (she/her/hers)
Linda Coley Sewell Distinguished Professor of Medicine
Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Director, UNC Rheumatology Lupus Clinic
Director, Clinical Trials Program

UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center
3300 Thurston Building, CB 7280
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7280


Shruti Saxena-Beem (she/her/hers)
Lead Clinical Research Coordinator
Bilingual (English/Hindi)


Tessa Englund, PhD, MPH (she/her/hers)
Research Associate




Emily McCormick (she/her/hers)
Clinical Research Coordinator
Bilingual (English/German)