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Division of Rheumatology

Advancing Care & Research for the Treatment of Rheumatic Disorders

The Division of Rheumatology in Dell Medical School’s Department of Internal Medicine improves people’s lives through innovation in patient-centered care, education and rheumatology research. The division team works together to redesign the future of rheumatology by creating, disseminating and applying new knowledge and by personalizing health care to meet the needs of each individual.

The division’s multidisciplinary Rheumatology Clinic at UT Health Austin collaborates with CommUnityCare Health CentersAustin VA ClinicDell Seton Medical Center and Ascension Seton.

The division provides a dynamic environment of academic excellence, high-quality patient care and robust research activity. Its clinicians see a diverse spectrum of clinical disorders encompassing the full range of rheumatology, including bursitis, osteoarthritis, vasculitis, inflammatory myositis, sarcoidosis, spondyloarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriatic arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, gout and more.

Areas of Focus

Presently, the division has two specialty clinics housed within UT Health Austin’s multispecialty clinic areas, with the aim of expanding its portfolio of services offered to the public in the future:

  • A fibromyalgia specialty clinic led by Kevin Hackshaw, M.D., delivers care to individuals who suffer from fibromyalgia in addition to care for other related conditions such as hyper mobility states, Ehlers Danlos disorder, post-COVID fatigue states, chronic fatigue syndrome and other central sensitivity disorders.
  • A vasculitis specialty clinic led by Curry Koening, M.D., provides state-of-the-art care and diagnostic expertise for all forms vasculitides, antiphospholipid syndromes and related vascular disorders under the purview of clinical rheumatologists.

Education

Kevin Hackshaw, M.D., Veena Patel, M.D., and Curry Koening, M.D., lead the education efforts for the division.

Patel is increasingly involved in medical student and resident education in addition to establishing key divisional quality improvement programs. Koening brings expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of vasculitic disorders. Hackshaw provides a wealth of experience in teaching medical students, residents, graduate students and rheumatology fellows, and he enhances the teaching and education mission for the division.

Clinical Programs

The division provides clinical activities at three sites: CommUnityCare Health Centers servicing Travis County, Dell Seton rheumatology clinics and UT Health Austin, which includes the Musculoskeletal Institute. Clinical staff also provide rheumatologic coverage for other Ascension Seton hospitals throughout the Austin-Travis County region. The division is committed to meeting the expanding clinical needs of the region and integrating patients as they are interested in the division’s growing research programs.

Research

Research Areas

Division Chief Kevin Hackshaw, M.D., has had a career dedicated to basic, clinical and translational research in rheumatology. His research interests are in the discovery of biomarkers for fibromyalgia and other central sensitivity syndromes.

Hackshaw and his collaborators discovered a new, reliable way to detect fibromyalgia in blood samples, leading the way to quickly identify a disease that’s often misdiagnosed. The team found clear reproducible metabolic patterns in the blood of dozens of patients with fibromyalgia and related disorders. This brought the field closer to a blood test than it has ever been.

Hackshaw continues this high-impact research here at The University of Texas at Austin. Currently, he is recruiting patients for his R61/33 National Institutes of Health–supported study of biomarker discovery for fibromyalgia. He maintains a fibromyalgia-specific clinic at UT Health Austin in addition to seeing the full spectrum of other rheumatologic conditions.

Additionally, he has developed collaborations with other physician-scientists with similar interests in the Department of Internal Medicine as well as the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Department of Neurology and collaborator-investigators at UT.

Curry Koening, M.D., has had over a decade of collaborative NIH-sponsored research dedicated to developing evidence-based guidelines for the treatment of a wide spectrum of vasculitis-related syndromes. His efforts have contributed to nationally accepted state-of-the-art protocols and/or treatment approaches for these prevalent but difficult to treat conditions.

Veena Patel, M.D., continues to refine practice guidelines through her quality improvement initiatives and has had multiple publications that continue to promote improved rheumatology access for marginalized populations.

About the Department of Internal Medicine