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VUMC lauded for scleroderma treatment, research

Aug. 4, 2022, 9:16 AM


by Doug Campbell

Tracy Frech, MD, MS

Vanderbilt University Medical Center was recently listed as a Designated Scleroderma Research and Treatment Center by the National Scleroderma Foundation.

To receive designation institutions must meet high standards in scleroderma treatment, research and education.

Scleroderma is a rare rheumatic disease that affects connective tissue and the vascular system producing excessive collagen that causes fibrosis in the skin or internal organs. The result can be disfigurement and disability, and for some it’s life-threatening.

The designation is a reflection of VUMC’s dedication and commitment to high quality treatment of scleroderma patients, cutting edge research and ongoing education.

“The National Scleroderma Foundation provides resources to patients. The Vanderbilt team of experts in rheumatology, pulmonary, gastroenterology, cardiology and dermatology made this important designation possible. We are committed to providing excellent care to systemic sclerosis patients referred to our center,” said Tracy Frech, MD, MS, associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology and Immunology.

Frech’s primary goal in research and clinical care is early diagnosis and effective treatment of systemic sclerosis (SSc) through meticulous patient phenotyping.

As a result of her work with interdisciplinary investigative teams, SSc is now being more effectively investigated as vascular leak and endothelial dysfunction with resultant fibrosis.

Scleroderma’s cause is unknown and there is no cure. The disease varies from individual to individual and is not contagious, infectious, cancerous or malignant.

The symptoms of scleroderma vary greatly for each person, and the effects of the disease can range from very mild to life threatening.

The seriousness depends on the parts of the body affected and the extent to which they are affected. This underscores the importance of a dedicated center paramount for effective management for patients with this diagnosis.

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