Singh receives ACR career development award

Namrata Singh, MBBS, MSCI, Clinical Assistant Professor in Immunology and of Epidemiology, recently earned an Investigator Award from the Rheumatology Research Foundation (RRF) of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). The three-year, $375,000 career development award recognizes junior faculty with innovative research projects. Dr. Singh is the first rheumatologist at the University of Iowa, in at least the last five years, to receive funding from RRF.

Using these funds, Dr. Singh will examine the impact of tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFi) on lymphoma in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). “A lot of times in the clinic when counseling a patient with rheumatoid arthritis about the need for therapy escalation to help control their disease, I get resistance from them due to fear of lymphoma,” Dr. Singh said. “This is based on old studies. A lot of new literature from Europe has showed the safety of these drugs (in predominantly Caucasian population). We hypothesize that by decreasing systemic inflammation, these drugs might lower the risk of lymphoma in RA.”

Dr. Singh’s submission to receive the award was a part of the career development plan she created with her mentors, Drs. Charles Lynch, Professor of Epidemiology in the College of Public Health, Mary Vaughan-Sarrazin, Associate Professor in General Internal Medicine, Elizabeth Field, Professor in Immunology, and Jeff Curtis, Professor of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“In getting a career development award, a great mentoring team is key! I am blessed to have found mentors dedicated and committed to see me succeed. I have worked with them for the past two years now. I couldn’t have done this without them,” Dr. Singh said, adding that Dr. Scott Vogelgesang, Director of the Division of Immunology, strongly supported her passion for research.

Last December, Dr. Singh received an American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant (IRG) for researching lymphoma incidence in veterans with rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome. In fact, just yesterday, Dr. Singh learned that she had received another one-year, $30,000 ACS IRG via the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, which will further bolster her examination of the TNFi impact on lymphoma risk. In addition, shortly before applying for her RRF award in June, Dr. Singh received a Career Enhancement Program award from a SPORE grant jointly held at the University of Iowa and Mayo Clinic. Using the knowledge and funding she has received, Dr. Singh plans to apply for a K23 NIH grant in the future.

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