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Immunotherapy Adverse Events in Rheumatology Program

The Immunotherapy Adverse Events in Rheumatology Program treats patients who have adverse events—undesirable outcomes not related to underlying disease—due to immunotherapy or who have autoimmune conditions that may cause flare-ups, or a severe onset of symptoms, when receiving immunotherapy. 

Immunotherapy treatments—such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, CAR T-cell therapy, and cancer vaccines—use the body’s immune system to fight cancer. 

Approximately 20% to 25% of cancer patients will have rheumatological adverse events after receiving immunotherapy. Adverse events can include joint or muscle pain, joint swelling, muscle stiffness, vasculitis, dry eyes and mouth, and myositis, which can severely impact quality of life and be organ- or life-threatening.

Our Approach

Our team seeks to ensure that patients’ immunotherapy treatment is not interrupted due to adverse events or autoimmune issues.

The clinic treats patients in a timely manner, allowing them to start or resume immunotherapy as soon as possible to successfully treat their cancer. At the same time, adverse events are effectively treated to preserve the function of inflamed organs.

We collaborate with oncologists to ensure that the treatment of these adverse events does not lessen the efficacy of the immunotherapy treatment. Strong communication and personalized patient management with referring physicians is one of the hallmarks of the program. 


The Yale Immunotherapy Adverse Events in Rheumatology Program has an outstanding research program that aims to understand the mechanisms of autoimmune disorders secondary to immune-based cancer therapy. We analyze human biospecimens obtained from eligible subjects from our center to identify molecular, transcriptomic, and cellular characteristics using cutting-edge genomic and immunologic technologies. The findings from humans are validated or further explored using various animal models in the laboratory of Sang Taek Kim, MD, PhD, director of the program. 

As the use of immunotherapy grows to address more types of cancer—and adverse events increase accordingly—Dr. Kim and his team will use data from the clinic and the laboratory to gain insights that lead to a deeper understanding of the predictive markers for adverse events, as well as the development of optimal treatment strategies.