Vaidehi Chowdhary, MD, is a rheumatologist who treats people with autoimmune diseases, including gout, vasculitis, and different types of arthritis. She has a special interest in lupus, a complex disease in which the body attacks its own tissues and organs, causing pain, fatigue, and other symptoms.
Diseases like lupus can be difficult and painful, and patients express worry about how their condition will affect their lifestyles, Dr. Chowdhary says. But researchers are introducing a growing number of treatments for lupus and other rheumatologic diseases, including new medicines that target specific pathways in the immune system that cause inflammation and pain. While many medications are slow-acting, she says it’s rewarding to work with patients through the years and see them feel better over time. “You can give more patients hope, and I think that's a very powerful thing.”
Dr. Chowdhary, who worked at the Mayo Clinic before coming to Yale, says she became a doctor because she was inspired by the combination of science and art in medicine. “The good part is that you're never far away from people. I've learned so much from my patients—lessons of courage, lessons in resilience. It’s good to know that I can be an important part of their journey to healing,” she says. “I think rheumatologists are unique in that regard, in that they'll listen to patients, knowing that this is part of the disease. So, patients feel heard, and I think that's the first step.”
In addition to caring for patients, Dr. Chowdhary is an associate professor of rheumatology at Yale School of Medicine who participates in research into better treatment for people with rheumatologic disease. She advises anyone who has a family history or is concerned about symptoms to consult a rheumatologist. “The earlier we treat these diseases, the lesser the chance of these diseases leading to life-threatening manifestations,” she says.