About /

About AWIR

Who We Are

Our Mission

To promote the science and practice of Rheumatology, foster the advancement and education of women in Rheumatology, and advocate access to the highest quality health care, and management of patients with Rheumatic diseases.

Board Members


Grace C. Wright



Grace C. Wright, MD, PhD is a consultant rheumatologist in New York City. Dr Wright received her undergraduate degree at Barnard College, Columbia University, graduating magna cum laude. She earned her medical and doctorate degrees at NYU School of Medicine in 1990 and completed an internship and residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in rheumatology at the NYU Medical Center where she served as clinical associate professor of medicine. Dr. Wright is the recipient of the Helen R. Downes Award for academic distinction and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Alpha Omega Alpha honor medical society.

Dr. Wright has research and clinical interest in the management and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. She has served as an investigator of several clinical trials and has given numerous professional lectures around the world.

Dr. Wright is a fellow and member of the American College of Rheumatology. She has authored or co-authored several articles and is deeply engaged in medical education in Rheumatology.


Gwenesta B. Melton


Vice President, Co-Chair Advocacy

Dr. Melton graduated from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. Internal Medicine training was completed at Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, TX. A Rheumatology fellowship followed and was finished at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Upon completion of her military obligation she joined the Lafayette Clinic of Fayetteville, N.C. With a private practice in rheumatology she is board certified in both internal medicine and rheumatology.

Dr. Melton is a fellow and committee member of the American College of Rheumatology. She spends time on the Affiliate State Council and Committee on Rheumatology Care. As a former President of the North Carolina Rheumatology Association she still represents the state of North Carolina for advocacy for ACR in Washington D.C. and the state.

Educating physicians, physician assistants and medical students, Dr. Melton is a clinical preceptor for Southern Regional Health Center and Womack Army Medical Center for family physicians. Holding a faculty position at Methodist University in Fayetteville and Campbell University exposes her to physician assistants and medical students with clinical rotations at her office. When not assisting PAs NPs or medical students she aides fellows at Duke University Medical Center as a consulting faculty member.

Leisure time is spent tracking walking tours of Europe, cruising on small ships, photographing structures and people or finding a new dance move with Zumba. An avid walker for many years half marathons have become a specialty. Family time is shared with her husband, a nephrologist and a grown daughter.


Theresa Lawrence Ford



Theresa Lawrence Ford is the CEO and Medical Director of North Georgia Rheumatology Group, CEO and Medical Director of the North Georgia Rheumatology Research and Infusion Centers and an Active Staff member at Gwinnett Medical Center Hospitals. She practices in a single specialty group in Gwinnett County, Georgia with her sister who is also a Rheumatologist. Dr. Lawrence Ford received her Medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Emory University Hospitals, where also completed a fellowship in Rheumatology and Immunology. She is Board Certified in Rheumatology.

She is a Fellow of the American College of Rheumatology, a member of the National Medical Association, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rheumatology Society and an active member of the Board of Directors for the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation and the

Georgia Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. She Chairs the International Clinical Trials Consortium for the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation and serves as a member of their Medical and Scientific Committee. She has also served as a Member of the Medical Advisory Board of the Lupus Foundation and the Lupus Registry.

Dr. Lawrence Ford holds a Faculty positions at the Philadelphia College of Medicine Georgia Campus and is Adjunct Faculty at Emory University, Neil Hodgson School of Nursing. With a strong research background, she has done research in the fields of Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis and maintains her interest currently by participating as a Primary Investigator in multiple clinical trials, and by acting a National speaker in the field of Rheumatology. She has been recognized in Atlanta Magazine yearly as a Top Doctor in her field since 2005.

In addition to her professional societies she maintains an avid interest in Wellness. She is holds certification in the American Council on Exercise as a Personal Trainer, and is Medical Director of Patient Fitness Center.


Anne Winkler



Anne Winkler MDPHD FACR MACP received her medical degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She also did her internal medicine residency and fellowship in immunology/rheumatology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has practiced rheumatology in the Springfield area for about 25 years. Anne was initially in a large multi-specialty group which then was sold to a major hospital complex and she worked for them for about 15 years. She is now working for Premier Specialty Network which has a focus on access to health care particularly in rural areas. Anne’s greatest achievements include her two sons both now in college and her term as governor for the ACP from 2003 through 2007. She is also very proud of her participation as founder and chair of the board of the Summit Preparatory School of Southwest Missouri which has now provided 10 years of quality education as the only independent school in the Springfield area. And any day that ends with ice cream is a good day, no matter what else has happened.


Gail S Kerr



Dr. Gail Kerr is Chief of Rheumatology at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Howard University Hospital in Washington DC. She is Professor of Medicine at Georgetown and Howard University Hospitals, and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD. She is involved in clinical research in the areas of systemic vasculitis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout and the spondyloarthritides. Dr. Kerr initiated the VA Rheumatology Consortium which seeks to coordinate state-of-the-art rheumatic care for Veterans, and is co-principal investigator of the Ethnic Minority Rheumatoid Arthritis Consortium – a clinical database accrued from diverse clinical practices. Dr. Kerr serves as reviewer for many clinical rheumatology journals, was a member of the expert panel for the development of the ACR gout treatment guidelines, and is a Board member of the DC VAMC Institute of Clinical Research. She participates in regular exercise activities, such as Boston Marathons (3)!


Stephanie Ott


Director, Co-Chair Advocacy

Dr Ott was born in south central Ohio and grew up in the rolling hills outside of Circleville, Ohio. She received her Bachelor's of Science in Microbiology from Ohio State University (OSU) and her Master's in Water Resource Administration from the University of New Mexico (UNM). She worked as a supervisor in a research laboratory at UNM School of Medicine where she then matriculated into the School of Medicine, completing her medical degree and Internal Medicine Residency training. She completed her fellowship in Rheumatology at OSU and is a Fellow in the American College of Rheumatology and the American College of Physicians. Dr Ott is a Certified Clinical Densitometrist and is the Director of Rheumatology at Fairfield Medical Center. She is the President of the Ohio Association of Rheumatology, a position she has held since 2011. She is very passionate about Advocacy and Teaching and is an active participant in several advocacy events through the ACR, organizing the first State level Advocacy day for rheumatology in 2014. She sits on the Affiliated State Council for the ACR where she continues her efforts to help patients at both the federal and state levels. She has won awards for teaching and received the Preceptor of the Year Award in 2013 from The Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine where she remains active with teaching students and residents. When not seeing patients, you can find her pursuing her love of music, a passion she maintains by listening or playing several instruments. A country girl at heart, you can find her outside in the garden, hiking or exploring as often as possible.


Thaila Ramanujam



Thaila Ramanujam, M.D is the CEO and Medical Director of Santa Cruz Rheumatology Inc., Santa Cruz, CA where she is in solo Rheumatology practice. Dr.Ramanujam received her Medical Degree from Stanley Medical College, University of Madras, India. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine at SUNY, Stony Brook, NY, followed by Fellowship in Rheumatology at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. She is Board Certified in Rheumatology. Dr. Ramanujam is a Fellow of the American College of Rheumatology, Northern California Rheumatism Association, California Medical Society, American Board of Internal Medicine and American Medical Association. Dr. Ramanujam is listed as a Lifetime Member of Who’s Who for demonstrating leadership and achievements in her medical profession.

With a strong research background in Immunology, Dr. Ramanujam has done basic research in the field of Rheumatoid Arthritis and T-cell Receptor expression. She has published and co-authored articles in Arthritis and Rheumatism, Journal of Rheumatology, Journal of Musculoskeletal Diseases, Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism, and other journals. In addition, she has a passionate interest in academic and practical aspects of nutrition and wellness.

In addition to her busy practice, Dr. Ramanujam volunteers her time in the founding and running of a Rheumatology Clinic at the Santa Cruz County Medical Center. She travels to rural South India frequently to treat indigenous patients with Rheumatic diseases and Rheumatoid Arthritis. She is also active in bringing state- of-the-art medical knowledge of Rheumatological diseases and is involved with the education of medical practitioners and students in India.

Dr. Ramanujam is an avid traveler, reads voraciously, holds an MFA in literature from the prestigious Writing Seminars at Bennington College and considers her two young adult daughters her biggest achievement of all.


Dianne Petrone



Dr. Dianne Petrone is an attending physician at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. She completed her medical education at West Virginia Medical School with an Internal Medicine Residency at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut. She then completed her rheumatology fellowship at Georgetown University Medical Center and subsequently served as a staff rheumatologist in the U. S. Air Force at Malcolm Grow United States Air Force Medical Center in Maryland. Upon completion of her service, she joined Arthritis Centers of Texas where Dr. Petrone has continued her clinical medicine and research endeavors in Dallas, Texas. Even while busy with patients and mentoring students, she has accumulated extensive experience as a Principal Investigator for multiple clinical trials.

A Diplomate of the American Boards of Internal Medicine and Rheumatology, she was awarded Founding Fellow status by the American College of Rheumatology. She maintains active memberships in the American College of Physicians and the Texas Medical Association. When not engaged in patient care, clinical research and teaching, she can be found enriching dogs lives. Adoring her own "special " dogs in multiple ways, she also trains and shows dogs.


Taraneh Mehrani


Director, Chair of Local Chapters

Dr Mehrani, the eldest of 5, was raised in the Washington DC Metropolitan area. She pursued her Internal Medicine residency at Union Memorial Hospital, University of Maryland and engaged in research at Johns Hopkins, investigating the role of anti phospholipid antibodies in patients with Lupus. She subsequently pursued these interests and completed her fellowship in Rheumatology at the University of California, Irvine.

She has served as President of the Mississippi State society while practicing as the sole Rheumatologist for a large multi specialty clinic, and was an active advocate on Capitol Hill as the state’s representative for the Affiliate Society Council, a branch of the ACR. She now continues her passion for Rheumatology in her new found home state of Milwaukee. She is a published author with articles in the Journal of Rheumatology with a special interest in the role of hormones and oral contraceptives in autoimmune diseases. She is also a coauthor of a chapter in the "Principles of Gender-Specific Medicine".

She enjoys traveling, experimenting with new recipes, and spending quality time with her daughter. She is now officially a Cheesehead. Go Pack!


Cynthia Lawrence-Elliot



Dr Cynthia Lawrence Elliott obtained her undergraduate training at Manhattanville College and her medical degree at Meharry Medical College. She completed preclinical elective studies at Johns Hopkins University and clinical electives at Harvard Medical School. This was followed by an Internal Medicine Residency at New York Medical College and a Rheumatology/Immunology fellowship at Emory University. She is the co-director of North Georgia Rheumatology Group, with her sister, Dr Theresa Lawrence Ford. North Georgia Rheumatology Group an active clinical and research Rheumatology practice with sites on the campuses of Gwinnett Medical Center, at Lawrenceville and Johns Creek/Duluth Georgia. She serves as primary investigator and sub investigator in numerous research studies concerning Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Osteoarthritis, and Gout. She is an advocate for utilizing imaging techniques with ultrasound in diagnosing and treating patients with acute and chronic arthritis.

For 20 years she has promoted patient advocacy through activities with the American College of Rheumatology, and with colleagues from around the world. She is an avid supporter of the rights of underserved populations and has co -sponsored grants and scholarships for Morehouse Medical College Students. She serves as clinical preceptor for students at Morehouse School of Medicine and assists with clinical rotations of medical students in her office. She has served on numerous medical advisory boards and educational committees, including the Sjogrens Foundation and Scleroderma Foundation. She currently serves on the medical advisory board of the Lupus Foundation of America, Georgia chapter and sponsored the Annual Clinical Lupus Symposia in Lawrenceville Georgia. Her greatest personal achievement has been a productive and satisfying professional career balanced with a successful marriage, children, grandchildren and spiritual harmony.


A. Silvia Ross


Director, Chair of Global Affairs

Dr. Ross is the managing partner of a single-specialty 3-physician Rheumatology private practice in Raleigh, NC, which she co-founded in 1994. She has been in NC since 1991.

Born and raised in Brazil, she completed medical school at Universidade Federal do Paraná in Brazil. She completed her internship and Internal Medicine Residency at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, IL, and Rheumatology Fellowship in the combined program of Michael Reese Hospital and University of Chicago, IL. She is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Dr. Ross is a Fellow of the American College of Rheumatology, and has active membership with ACP, AMA, ISCD, as well as NC Medical Society and Wake County Medical Society. She has served as principal or co-investigator in multiple clinical studies over the years. She is a Medical Advisor for the Arthritis Foundation Triangle Leadership Board. She is a local chapter leader for AWIR in NC.

When not busy with her medical practice, she is involved in multiple other interests, including traveling, photography, skiing, scuba diving, reading, playing a little piano to relax, as well as active volunteering with a foreign exchange student program (having hosted several exchange students). She has 3 grown daughters, all a great source of pride.


Priya Reddy



Dr. Priya Reddy is a private practice rheumatologist in the Tampa Bay Area of Florida. She completed fellowship in rheumatology at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington.
Before opening her practice in 2010, she worked as an Assistant Professor in Division of Rheumatology at the University of South Florida and continues to teach and train Internal Medicine residents as Faculty and Curriculum Coordinator for Brandon Regional Hospital Residency Program/USF.
She is an executive board member of the Florida Society of Rheumatology. She is a Fellow of the American College of Rheumatology, and has active membership with the AMA, FMA and HCMA. She is also a regional director for AWIR in Florida.
When not striving to keep her patients happy and healthy, she enjoys playing and listening to music and watching old classic films with her family.


  • Happy New Year!!
  • Merry Christmas to you! Enjoy this holiday season with friends and family! #AWIR #WomenInRheum #BornToLead
  • Happy #Thanksgiving from our family to yours! Enjoy your day with friends and family! #AWIR #WomenInRheum #BornToLead
  • Thank you for your service. #VeteransDay
  • September is Women in Medicine Month Join #AWIR in honoring female physicians who have dedicated their lives to the medical field. #WIMMonth #BornToLead #WomenInRheum
  • We will never forget! #NeverForget #September11
  • It's #NationalWomensEqualityDay! A day that commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting the right to vote to women. The amendment was first introduced in 1878. In 1971, the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day. Let's remember this day as we continue to fight for the equality of all women in all areas of life. #AWIR #WomenInRheum #BornToLead
  • #AWIR leaders, Drs. Elliott and Melton meet with @reprobwoodall of GA to share information on HR bills for better patient care including, #HR2279; #HR3107; HR 7/S 270; #HR 2376; S 1895 sec 306. #AWIRTAKESTHEHILL #AWIRONTHEHILL #BornToLead #WomenInRheum
  • #AWIR leaders Heather, Dr. Melton and Dr. Elliott meet with Mia Keeys from @reprobinkelly's staff, drumming up support for our joint efforts for Equal Pay and helping with a Maternal Act for women today. #WomenInRheum #BornToLead #AWIRTAKESTHEHILL #AWIRONTHEHILL
  • Thank you to @durbincampaign and @SenDuckworth for extending #AWIR an invite to join you for coffee this morning and for having staff meet with us to discuss our priorities. #WomenInRheum #BornToLead #AWIRTAKESTHEHILL #AWIRONTHEHILL
  • Thank you @reprobwoodall for a great conversation about #AWIR priorities! #WomenInRheum #BornToLead #AWIRTAKESTHEHILL #AWIRONTHEHILL
  • #AWIR leaders Dr. Mehrani and Dr. Ott met with staff of @sensherrodbrown to discuss AWIR hot button issues. #WomenInRheum #BornToLead #AWIRTAKESTHEHILL #AWIRONTHEHILL
  • #AWIR's Dr. Ott with @repstevestivers discussing prescription access and improving patient care. #WomenInRheum #BornToLead #AWIRTAKESTHEHILL #AWIRONTHEHILL
  • #AWIR leaders at the Capitol this morning for coffee! #WomenInRheum #BornToLead #AWIRTAKESTHEHILL #AWIRONTHEHILL #congress
  • #AWIR staff meet with representatives from WI @repjimsensenbrenner who is a co-sponsor of the Safe Step Act #HR2279. We had discussion about a streamlined, electronic prior authorization process with #HR3107. #WomenInRheum #BornToLead #AWIRTAKESTHEHILL #AWIRONTHEHILL
  • Dr. Melton met with @reprichhudson to discuss sponsorship of #HR2279 and #HR3107 to reform utilization management protocols and also reforms to increase PBM transparency. #AWIRTakesTheHill #AWIROnTheHill #WomenInRheum #BornToLead #AWIR
  • Dr. Melton meeting with officials from @senthomtillis office. #AWIR #AWIROnTheHill #AWIRTakesTheHill #WomenInRheum #BornToLead
  • @senduckworth at this morning's coffee event to kick off #AWIROnTheHill! We will be speaking to Congress and other legislative officials today about causes close to #AWIR! #BornToLead #WomenInRheum #AWIRTakesTheHill‬
  • Pre-Hill dinner before our fearless #AWIR leaders storm the Capitol! Our leaders will be speaking with Congress and other legislative officials to discuss several issues our organization stand firmly behind. Stay tuned FOR UPDATES! #awironthehill #awirtakethehill #WomenInRheum #BornToLead #congress
  • Stay tuned to our social media channels TOMORROW as #AWIRTakesTheHill! We will be meeting with members of Congress and legislative staff to discuss drug pricing, transparency bills, step therapy, prior authorization and gender disparities that exist in the workplace. TUNE IN! #AWIR #WomenInRheum #BornToLead #AWIRHillDay #AWIROntheHill #Congress
  • Stay tuned to our social media channels this week as #AWIRTakesTheHill! We will be meeting with members of Congress and legislative staff to discuss drug pricing, transparency bills, step therapy, prior authorization and gender disparities that exist in the workplace. TUNE IN! #AWIR #WomenInRheum #BornToLead #AWIRHillDay #Congress
  • Happy 4th of July, everyone! Hooray for the red, white, and blue. From all of us here at #AWIR, stay safe and enjoy the fireworks! #4thofJuly #IndepenceDay
  • On Memorial Day, we take the time to remember the brave individuals who have stepped up to defend our freedom. Thank you! #NeverForget #MemorialDay #HappyMemorialDay
  • Happy Mother’s Day! Have a wonderful day. #MothersDay #HappyMothersDay
  • A little humor heading into the weekend! Make it a great one. #AWIR #WomenInRheum #BornToLead
  • Happy Easter! #AWIR #WomenInRheum #BornToLead
  • Let's welcome Dr. JunFeng Jia as a new member of #theassociationofwomeninrheumatology !
  • Let's welcome Dr. Jacklyn Chay as a new member of #theassociationofwomeninrheumatology !
  • Let's welcome Dr. Ratih Wulansarias Manuaba as a new member of #theassociationofwomeninrheumatology !
  • Let's welcome Dr. Andrew Ostor as a new member of #theassociationofwomeninrheumatology !
  • Help us welcome our newest member,  Dr. Laurel Young ! #theassociationofwomeninrheumatology #borntolead
  • Check us out at Booth #21 for APLAR 2019 ! #theassociationofwomeninrheumatology
  • #CreakyJoints has been a fantastic collaborator for #AWIR. Advancing #rheumatology for the patients and providers is a joint effort. #WomeninRheum are so happy to see this organization at #APLAR19 in #Brisbane. Drs Wright, Melton, PA Cole, Seth Ginsberg, Rosemary Ainley,Kasey Gardner, Naomi Creek are all smiles as we come together and talk positivity and change  #creakyjoints_aus