Fotios Koumpouras, MD, director of the Yale Lupus Program, specializes in difficult-to-diagnose rheumatic diseases, including lupus, which can cause damage, pain and inflammation in any part of the body. “These diseases are complex and require strong knowledge of medicine, and recognizing and treating them appropriately can have tremendous, positive impacts in people’s lives,” he says.
When he sees a new patient, Dr. Koumpouras likes to say, “Don’t worry. Let’s find out exactly what is going on and get it treated. Knowing is half the battle.” One of his most memorable patients has a rare form of lupus and can only receive medication through an IV. “But she always has a smile on her face and works tirelessly to get better. She travels over 600 miles to see me,” he says.
An assistant professor of medicine (rheumatology) at Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Koumpouras currently heads up three clinical trials to evaluate promising medications for patients with lupus. While the disease has been challenging for both doctors and researchers, he says that is changing with a growing knowledge about the role of hormones and environmental triggers, and the underlying mechanisms of inflammation. There is no cure for lupus, but he hopes this work will lead to better options for patients.