Councellors

Prof. Alexandra Balbir Gurman

Prof. Alexandra Balbir-Gurman, MD has been Director of the B. Shine Rheumatology Institute at Rambam Health Care Campus since 2007. She immigrated to Israel from Ukraine in 1989 and completed her Residency in Internal Medicine (1990-1994) in the Department of Internal Medicine at B’nai Zion Hospital; she specialized in Rheumatology Department at Rambam (1994-1997) and has been a Senior Rheumatologist since 1997. In 2000, she had a fellowship in The Connective Tissue Diseases Unit at Royal Free Hospital in London under Prof. Carol M. Black. Prof. Balbir-Gurman is Clinical Associate Professor at the Technion Faculty of Medicine; she is also a member of national (Israeli Society of Rheumatology) and international organizations, such as ACR and EULAR; she is an active member and counsellor of the Scleroderma Research Group (EUSTAR) and a member of the EULAR Target US initiative. Prof. Balbir-Gurman has organized several US courses for Israeli rheumatologists, workshops on vascular problems in Scleroderma and capillaroscopy; every two years she organizes an International Rheumatology Conference on the Scientific Basis of Rheumatology in Israel. Prof. Balbir-Gurman maintains the largest Israeli scleroderma registry, and operates a busy scleroderma clinic and a multidisciplinary fibro-vascular clinic for patients with respiratory problems and rheumatic diseases. She has published articles in the field of scleroderma, myositis, vasculitis, rheumatoid arthritis, biological therapies, and the use of US in rheumatic diseases.

Cosimo Bruni

Name and Surname Cosimo Bruni
Working Address Azienda Ospedalieri Universitaria Careggi, SOD Reumatologia
Via delle Oblate 4, Padiglione 28c Ponte Nuovo, 50134, Firenze

Current Position PhD Candidate, from November 1st 2018 – ongoing ACADEMIC AND CLINICAL TRAINING/DUTIES
October 27th, 2010 – Degree in Medicine and surgery, score 110 cum laude/110.
July 11th, 2017 – Specialization in Rheumatology, score 110 cum laude/110.
Research assistant for the study project “SECURE” (Systemic sclerosis patients Evaluated by Chest Ultrasound: Redefining the diagnostic approach to lung involvement) at Dep. Biomedicine, Div. Rheumatology, University of Florence; from December 2011 to June 2012.
Participation to the EULAR Online course on Rheumatic Diseases, final examination October 2014, passed with a score of 72%.
Participation to the EULAR Online Course on Systemic Sclerosis, final exam taken June 2018, passed with a score of 89%.
Co-Mentor for Thesis Defence at University of Florence: Degree in Nursing Sciences (1), Degree in Medicine and Surgery (2) and Specialization in Rheumatology (1).

HONORS AND AWARDS
July 2013 – Winner of the 2013 EULAR Educational Training Bursary, 6 months training at the Centre for Inflammation and Connective Tissue Diseases, Royal Free Hospital – University College of London, London (under Prof C. P. Denton).
July 2016 – Winner of the 2016 “Italian Society of Rheumatology (SIR) Program for Professionalization and Scientific training in Rheumatology in National and Foreign Institutions”, July 2017-July 2018.
December 2017 – Winner of the 2017 edition of the funding call “Public call for Research Projects on systemic sclerosis”, promoted by GILS (Gruppo Italiano Lotta alla Sclerodermia) – December 2017 – December 2018.
April 2018 – Winner of the 2017 edition of the funding call “Grant for Young Researcher”, promoted by FIRA (Fondazione Italiana per la Ricerca sull’Artrite) – April 2018 – April 2019.
Reviewer for “Arthritis Care and Research” and “Journal of Scleroderma and Related Disorders”.
Assistant Editor to “Journal of Scleroderma and Related Disorders”.
Co-Chair of the EUSTAR Young Investigators Group – April 2017 – ongoing.
Sub-Investigators position in RCTs: Phase II-III-IV and observational trials on RA (18), PsA (3), AxSpA/SpA (5), SSc (10), OA (2), IIMs (2), SLE (1).
Currently Sub-Investigator in studies on:
– Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic arthritis and Ankylosing Spondilitis – Oberservational – Merck Sharp & Dome
– Psoriatic arthritis – Obervational – Janssen
– Rheumatoid Arthritis – Observatinal – Eli Lilly
– Systemic Sclerosis – Phase II – Galapagos
Scopus metrics on June 2nd 2019: Author of 44 publications, with 13 first authorship, 498 total citations, h-Index 11.
Key References:
1. Barskova T, et al. Lung ultrasound for the screening of interstitial lung disease in very early systemic sclerosis; Ann Rheum Dis. 2013
Mar;72(3):390-5
2. Minier T, et al. Preliminary analysis of the Very Early diagnosis of Systemic Sclerosis (VEDOSS) EUSTAR multicentre study: evidence for puffy
fingers as pivotal sign for the suspicion of systemic sclerosis. Ann Rheum Dis. 2014 Dec;73(12):2087-93.
3. Bruni C et al. “Digital ulcers as a sentinel sign for early internal organ involvement in very early systemic sclerosis: evidence from a single
VEDOSS/EUSTAR centre”; Rheumatology (Oxford). 2014 Jul 26.
4. Bruni C et al. Preliminary Validation of the Digital Ulcer Clinical Assessment Score in Systemic Sclerosis. J Rheumatol. 2018 Nov 15. [Epub
ahead of print].

Francesco Del Galdo

Dr Francesco Del Galdo is Associate Professor of Rheumatology and head of the Scleroderma Programme in the Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine and NIHR Biomedical Research Centre. He graduated as MD in Italy in 1999, completed his training in Immunology in Italy in 2003. He then completed a PhD focusing on autoimmune and connective tissue diseases in 2007 in the Scleroderma Center of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, USA. In the same centre we worked as post-doctoral Fellowship and then as Assistant Professor and associate director of the centre for 2 years. During these years Dr Del Galdo discovered and characterised the role of Allograft Inflammatory Factor -1 in the pathogenesis of Systemic Sclerosis and identified a novel mouse model of tissue fibrosis in the caveolin-1 knock mouse. In 2009 he moved to Leeds with the aim of establishing a multidisciplinary translational research programme focused on improving outcome and clinical management of patients affected by Systemic Sclerosis. The Scleroderma Research Programme led by Dr Del Galdo has pioneered in the application of Optical Coherence Tomography as virtual skin biopsy and in the application of serum biomarkers of overall fibrosis as outcome measures of activity and early diagnosis in Scleroderma. Since 2009 Dr Del Galdo joined the scientific and advisory boards of EUSTAR (EULAR Scleroderma Trial and Research consortium), the World Scleroderma Congress and he is a member of the UK SSc group. In 2018 Dr Del Galdo has established the first national cohort for the prevention of Scleroderma. Founded by the Kennedy Trust for Rheumatology Research, the program grant aims at collection clinical, biomarker and biosample data of people with Raynaud’s phenomenon at risk of developing scleroderma to understand the molecular events responsible of disease onset and implement clinical trials for the delay of onset of Scleroderma. The basic research within the programme is focused on the identification of the early events in the pathogenesis of Scleroderma and the link between innate immune activation, vascular and fibrotic manifestations of the disease.

Madelon Vonk

Dr Madelon Vonk, MD. PhD, works at the department of the Rheumatic Diseases at the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. This department is an Eular centre of excellence and NFU endorsed expertise centre on systemic autoimmune diseases and on pulmonary hypertension and the national referral centre for systemic sclerosis in the Netherlands.
She graduated as a medical doctor in 1994 and as a rheumatologist in 2004 and completed her PhD entitled “Systemic sclerosis, assessment and treatment. Tight control in a tight disease” in 2008 at the Radboud University Nijmegen. During her PhD she started the prospective Nijmegen Scleroderma cohort and since then, she is the leader of clinical research in systemic sclerosis and in pulmonary hypertension in the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre. She combines patient care with education and clinical research. The focus of her research is early diagnosis of systemic sclerosis and its complications and early treatment.
She was chairperson of the Dutch Systemic sclerosis working party from 2013-2019 and is the chair of the committee of the Dutch clinical pathway for systemic sclerosis, currently under revision. She has published more than 100 peer reviewed papers on systemic sclerosis, has published several reviews and book chapters. Currently she guides 5 PhD students on different aspects of systemic sclerosis.