Amr H. Sawalha, MD

  • Division Director, Rheumatology and Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine
  • Director, Lupus Center of Excellence, UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

Sawalha’s research program focuses on elucidating genetic and epigenetic contribution to the pathogenesis of systemic autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. His team applies state-of-the-art genomic, epigenomic, and bioinformatics methodologies, and subsequent functional studies using both in vitro and in vivo systems to identify and characterize genetic loci and pathways involved in the pathogenesis of immune-mediated diseases.

Professional and Scientific Society Memberships

  • American College of Physicians - American Society of Internal Medicine, 2006-2008 
  • American College of Rheumatology, 2004-Present 
  • American Association of Immunologists, 2008-Present 
  • Southern Medical Association, 2003-2005 
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2005-2012 
  • Epigenetics Society (formerly DNA Methylation Society), 2006-Present 
  • American Federation for Medical Research, 2007-2014 
  • Central Society for Clinical and Translational Research, 2008-2011  
  • American Society of Human Genetics, 2009-Present  
  • American Society for Clinical Investigation, 2014-Present 

Education & Training

  • MD, Jordan University of Science and Technology, 1998
  • Multidisciplinary Internship, Princess Basma Teaching Hospital, 1998-1999
  • Internship in Internal Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, 2000-2001
  • Residency in Internal Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, 2001-2003
  • Fellowship in Rheumatology, University of Michigan, 2003-2005

Selected Publications

Sawalha AH, Manzi S. Coronavirus Disease-2019: Implication for the care and management of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Eur J Rheumatol. 2020 Apr 8. doi: 10.5152/eurjrheum.2020.20055. 

Sawalha AH, Zhao M, Coit P, Lu Q. Epigenetic dysregulation of ACE2 and interferon-regulated genes might suggest increased COVID-19 susceptibility and severity in lupus patients. Clin Immunol. 2020 Apr 8;215:108410. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2020.108410. 

Zheng X, Tsou PS, Sawalha AH. Increased Expression of EZH2 Is Mediated by Higher Glycolysis and mTORC1 Activation in Lupus CD4+ T Cells. Immunometabolism 2020;2(2):e200013; DOI:10.20900/immunometab20200013.  

Golden LC, Itoha Y, Itoha N, Iyengara S, Coit P, Salamaa Y, Arnolde AP, Sawalha AH, Voskuhl RR. Parent-of-origin differences in DNA methylation of X chromosome genes in T lymphocytes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. 2019 Dec 10. pii: 201910072. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1910072116. 

Ortiz-Fernández L, Sawalha AH. Genetics of Antiphospholipid Syndrome. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2019 Dec 5;21(12):65. doi: 10.1007/s11926-019-0869-y.  

Kong X, Sawalha AH. Takayasu arteritis risk locus in IL6 represses the anti-inflammatory gene GPNMB through chromatin looping and recruiting MEF2-HDAC complex. Ann Rheum Dis. 2019 Jul 17. pii: annrheumdis-2019-215567. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2019-215567. [Epub ahead of print]. 

Coit P, Kaushik P, Caplan L, Kerr GS, Walsh JA, Dubreuil M, Reimold A, Sawalha AH. Genome-wide DNA methylation analysis in ankylosing spondylitis identifies HLA-B*27 dependent and independent DNA methylation changes in whole blood. Journal of Autoimmunity. 2019 May 22. pii: S0896-8411(19)30130-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2019.04.022. [Epub ahead of print] 

Rohraff DM, He Y, Farkash EA, Schonfeld M, Tsou PS, Sawalha AH. Inhibition of EZH2 ameliorates lupus-like disease in MRL/lpr mice. Arthritis and Rheumatology. 2019 May 20. doi: 10.1002/art.40931. [Epub ahead of print] 

Tsou PS, Khanna D, Sawalha AH. Identifying CYR61 as a Potential Anti-fibrotic and Pro-angiogenic Mediator in Scleroderma. Arthritis and Rheumatology. 2019 Mar 18. doi: 10.1002/art.40890. 

Kaplan MH, Kaminski M, Estes JM, Gitlin SD, Zahn J, Elder JT, Tejasvi T, Gensterblum E, Sawalha AH, McGowan JP, Dosik MH, Direskeneli H, Saruhan-Direskeneli G, Adebamowo SN, Adebamowo CA, Sajadi M, Contreras-Galindo R. Structural Variation of Centromeric Endogenous Retroviruses in Human Populations and their Impact on Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma, Sézary Syndrome, and HIV infection. BMC Medical Genomics. 2019;12(1):58. doi: 10.1186/s12920-019-0505-8. 

Full Publication List via NIH PubMed »

Research Grants

R01 AR070148, Characterizing the Takayasu arteritis genetic risk in RPS9/LILRB3, 2017-2021, NIH/NIAMS, $1,744,221 / $1,184,940

Targeting EZH2 in lupus, 2018-2021, Lupus Research Alliance (LRA), $300,000

R01 AR071384, Characterization of interferon kappa as a novel target in cutaneous lupus, 2017-2022, NIH/NIAMS, (Co-I $85,081 / $54,539) 

R01 NS096748, Parental imprinting of the X chromosome: effects on neurodegeneration, 2016-2019, NIH/UCLA, (Co-I $447,555 / $288,745)