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

Cosimo Bruni
Azienda Ospedalieri Universitaria Careggi,
Via delle Oblate 4, Padiglione 28c Ponte Nuovo, 50141, Firenze

MD, PhD Candidate.

Dr Cosimo Bruni completed his medical training at the University of Siena in 2010, then obtained his specialty training in Rheumatology at the University of Florence (under the University of Pisa) in 2017. His main interest in research in the Systemic Sclerosis fields includes clinical research, cardiopulmonary involvement, vascular involvement. He has been awarded with national and international grants to support his research projects and academic attachments (London UCL under Prof Christopher Denton, University of Zurich, under Prof Oliver Distler). Dr Cosimo Bruni is chair of the EUSTAR Young Investigators Group, coordinating initiatives to increase interest, research and education among younger clinicians and researchers.

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.