Sampath Prahalad, MD, MSc
Marcus Professor of Pediatric Rheumatology
Chief, Division of Pediatric Rheumatology
Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Human Genetics
Emory University School of Medicine
Director, Infusion and Laboratory Services
Emory Children’s Center
My career vision is to determine who gets juvenile idiopathic arthritis and why? Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is the most common cause of chronic arthritis in children, affecting 1 in 1000 children. Although it was once thought that children with JIA “outgrew” their arthritis it is now clear that a significant number of children with JIA go on to have arthritis as adults. Both genetic and environmental factors predispose to the development of JIA. Our research focuses on identifying genetic factors that predispose to JIA susceptibility. We have assembled a large cohort of cases with JIA and healthy controls. We have also investigated a number of candidate genes for association with JIA and have demonstrated that variants in genes encoding CCR5, STAT4, TNFAIP3, and C12ORF30 are associated with JIA susceptibility. We have demonstrated that siblings of children have a twelve fold excess risk of JIA and first cousins of children with JIA have a six fold excess risk of JIA compared to the general population. We have also demonstrated that children with JIA and their family members are at increased risk of autoimmune disorders in general.
We are now focusing on a rare subtype of JIA, which resembles rheumatoid arthritis (RA) seen in adults. RA is a common cause of arthritis in adults occurring around the age of 50. Several children, some as young as 2 develop the same type of arthritis. We are investigating the factors that predispose to Childhood Onset of RA. As a physician scientist I also see children with JIA and other childhood rheumatic diseases from GA and nearby states at Emory Children’s Center and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Hospitals.