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Fun & Adventure





aboutwirr group


Grace C. Wright

MD, PhD, FACR | President

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

MD, FACR | 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.


Priya Reddy

MD, FACR | Secretary and Treasurer

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.


Gail S Kerr

MD, FRCP, FACR | Director

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)!


Thaila Ramanujam

MD, FACR | Co-Chair of Global Affairs

Thaila Ramanujam, MD, 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 a 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, the Northern California Rheumatism Association, the California Medical Society, the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Medical Association. Dr. Ramanujam is listed as a Lifetime Member of Who’s Who for demonstrating leadership and for 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, the Journal of Rheumatology, the 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

MD, FACR | Director

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

MD, FACR | 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

MD, FACR | Director

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

MD, FACR | Co-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.


Catherine Bakewell

MD, RhMSUS | Director

Dr Bakewell trained at the University of Washington in Seattle where she obtained her MD, Residency, and Fellowship certifications. She practiced for 2 years in Seattle with Dr. Philip Mease at Seattle Rheumatology Associates, simultaneously remaining faculty for UW at the VA Medical Center Puget sound, where she introduced musculoskeletal ultrasound to the fellowship training curriculum. She is currently practices at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, Utah.

She is an active member/mentor for USSONAR (Ultrasound School for North American Rheumatologists), GRAPPA (Group for Research and Assessment of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis), SPARTAN (Spondyloarthritis Treatment and Research Network), PPACMAN (Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Clinics Multicenter Advancement Network), National Psoriasis Foundation among others, and most recently was nominated to the Board of Directors for AWIR (Association of Women in Rheumatology), in addition to being her local chapter lead for Utah. She remains active in research (including NIH funded) in the arena of musculoskeletal ultrasound. She is currently serving as co-lead for the ACR Guidance for the use of musculoskeletal ultrasound in Inflammatory Arthritis, and continues to teach/lecture nationally.


Sheetal Desai

MD, MSEd, FACR | Director

Dr Desai is a native of Tucson, Arizona and transplant to southern California. She completed medical school at the University of Southern California (USC) followed by Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at UCLA. She pursued a Master of Science in Medical Education from the USC Rossier School of Education.

She joined the University of California, Irvine (UCI) as rheumatology faculty in 2007, and served as program director of the UCI Rheumatology Fellowship for 10 years. She is currently Clinical Professor of Medicine, Chief of Rheumatology and DEI Officer for the Department of Medicine.

Her clinical interests are Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, collaboration across specialties to create Multidisciplinary clinics, and gender equity in medicine.