Rheumatology Fellowship Training Program

The Division of Rheumatology and Immunology is committed to providing an environment that optimizes opportunities for our trainees to develop into rheumatologists who are continually curious about patient care, basic science principles, pathophysiology and evidence-based medicine.  

In the clinical setting, fellows experience a wide diversity of patients and disease states while they rotate through three clinical sites at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), the Nashville Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center and Nashville General Hospital (NGH). 

These sites will include a wide variety of patients from the most complex multi-system diseases to patients from underserved communities presenting with advanced disease. Utilizing these three clinical sites also allows trainees to see how different health systems operate. We offer opportunities in rheumatology musculoskeletal ultrasound training through clinics at VUMC and the VA. In addition, our fellows rotate through the pediatric rheumatology clinics and, with our Med-Peds trained faculty, a transition of care clinic.

Fellows have the opportunity to work in our multidisciplinary clinical programs focused on vasculitis, systemic sclerosis and idiopathic inflammatory myopathies. These systemic sclerosis and myositis programs take advantage of being co-localized with experts in pulmonary medicine. Trainees also work with exceptional faculty in our metabolic bone disease and psoriatic arthritis programs.

Research is an integral part of our Rheumatology Fellowship Training Program. The division has active clinical research programs evaluating patients with systemic sclerosis, vasculitis, systemic lupus erythematosus, myositis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia and osteoporosis. In addition, our basic science researchers have been investigating basic lymphocyte biology in autoimmunity, pathways of angiogenesis and vasculogenesis, and gene expressed profiling of those patients with autoimmunity. 

Exceptional patient care, groundbreaking research

Our exceptional patient care and groundbreaking research, coupled with the collegial training environment within our division and across VUMC, is a major benefit for fellows as they advanced towards successful careers in rheumatology.

All fellows are expected to undertake some research during their training, but the goals of the research component are broad and flexible according to the skills and needs of individual trainees.


Fellows experience a wide range of clinical settings throughout the duration of their training. In these settings, they are exposed to a breadth and depth of various disease states, which ultimately gives them confidence upon graduation to continue to provide high-quality care for patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease.  

First Year 

Inpatient consultation: Each first-year fellow covers the Vanderbilt University Hospital (VUH) consult service for approximately four months. This is done in two-week blocks. The consult service gets approximately two to four consultations per day. Many times, there is a medical resident or student on the service, which allows for the honing of teaching skills. 

Each first-year fellow will also cover the Nashville VA and NGH for about two to three months of the year, also in two-week blocks. These are less busy services and are covered together. These consult services combined receive approximately one to three consultations per week. 

Outpatient Clinics: First-year fellows get a wide range of outpatient clinic experience. On Mondays, the first-year fellows will split coverage of the pediatric clinic at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and the Nashville VA new patient clinic. Once a quarter, the fellow will work with faculty in the rheumatology/dermatology clinic. Once weekly, the first-year fellow sees their own panel of patients in The Vanderbilt Clinic (TVC) and Nashville VA continuity clinics, which are staffed by dedicated clinic preceptors. When not on VUH consults, the first-year fellow will see patients once weekly in the NGH follow-up clinic, staffed by dedicated clinic preceptors. See the table below for additional details. 

MondayTuesday Wednesday ThursdayFriday
AM  Nashville VA New Patient Clinic or Pediatric Clinic (alternate)
TVC Clinic
Nashville VA Continunity Clinic
PMRheumatology-Dermatology Clinic (quarterly)

NGH Follow-up clinic

Second Year 

Inpatient consultation: Each second-year fellow covers the VUH consult service for approximately one month (two-week blocks), usually earlier in the year to allow the first-year fellows to settle into their new role as fellows, as well to facilitate studying for American Board of Internal Medicine boards. 

Each second-year fellow will cover the Nashville VA/NGH consult services for two to three months, in two-week blocks.  

Outpatient Clinics: The second-year clinic schedule is similar to the first-year schedule with a few exceptions. The second year of the program introduces the Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment (CELA) teaching activity. For more information, see the Conferences section below. 

MondayTuesday Wednesday ThursdayFriday
CELA Teaching Experience (1-2 times monthly) TVC Clinic
Nashville VA Continunity Clinic
PMNGH New Patient Clinic (twice monthly)
Rheumatology-Dermatology Clinic (monthly) 

NGH Follow-up clinic

Additional Opportunities

Vanderbilt Rheumatology Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Program: The program provides diagnostic ultrasound exams and ultrasound-guided procedures to aid with early diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic conditions such as crystalline arthropathies, spondyloarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. This weekly clinic at both The Vanderbilt Clinic and Nashville Veterans Affairs is led by rheumatologist Dr. Erin Chew, who has advanced training and certification in musculoskeletal ultrasound. The mission of the Rheumatology Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Program is to:

  • Provide patients with point-of-care, affordable diagnostic imaging and US-guided procedures at the time of their rheumatology visit. 

  • Provide musculoskeletal ultrasound exposure and training to rheumatology fellows and medical trainees at Vanderbilt University. 

  • Advance research to understand of the role of musculoskeletal ultrasound for diagnosis and follow up of patients with rheumatic conditions.

Depending on the fellow's interest, additional clinical experiences can be arranged in the:

Outside of the division, additional experiences are available in radiology, orthopaedics and physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Research is an integral part of the Rheumatology Fellowship Training Program. Active clinical research programs evaluate patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, vasculitis, rheumatoid arthritis, connective tissue disease-related interstitial lung disease, osteoporosis and inflammatory myositis. In addition to clinical research, our basic science researchers investigate lymphocyte biology in autoimmunity, pathways of angiogenesis and vasculogenesis, and gene expression profiling in patients with autoimmune disease. The goals of the research component of our fellowship program are broad and flexible according to the skills and needs of individual trainees, and are achieved through mentored, hands-on research. These include:  

  • Research of background information 
  • Proposal of a hypothesis 
  • Design of an experiment 
  • Ethical/animal care responsibilities 
  • Scientific integrity 
  • Performance of an experiment 
  • Data organization and storage 
  • Data analysis and presentation of results 

Each fellow is expected to submit a yearly abstract to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Annual Meeting, which is accomplished through close faculty mentorship. A suggested timeline and intermittent presentations at informal research meetings help the fellow identify feasibility, stay on track and accomplish goals. 

Two unique tools available to fellows for clinical research are the Synthetic Derivative and BioVU. The Synthetic Derivative is a deidentified copy of the electronic health record. BioVU is a biorepository of deidentified DNA samples that is linked to the health record. Our fellows have consistently been able to produce abstracts for the ACR annual meeting and publications using these tools to ask questions with faculty mentorship. 

For fellows strongly interested in research, the Master of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI) program is a unique opportunity offered at VUMC. Trainees may also be interested in pursuing a Master of Public Health

Interdisciplinary Training in Rheumatic Diseases 

  • Advanced training for research careers in Rheumatic Disease is offered through our NIH-funded T32 for Interdisciplinary Training in Rheumatic Diseases. The goal of the program, which supports MD and PhD postdoctoral fellows and predoctoral students, is to sustain a culture of biomedical discovery for the next generation of clinical and basic science investigators in pediatric and adult rheumatology.  

Immunological Mechanisms of Disease Training Program 

  • The Immunological Mechanisms of Disease Training Program (IMDTP) provides training in basic and immunologic mechanisms of human disease. The primary focus of the IMDTP is to provide pre- and postdoctoral trainees with the expertise to make novel discoveries which translate to the clinical setting. A long-term goal of the IMDTP is to train the next generation of research scientists, emphasizing the importance of using acquired knowledge as a translational platform on which to develop new therapies and interventions. Training faculty include over 30 NIH-funded investigators with research programs that provide highly developed, diverse, interdisciplinary training opportunities. Through thoughtful mentoring, the IMDTP will ensure the future of translational research focused on immunological mechanisms of disease.   

Precision Medicine 

  • One of the most exciting opportunities for trainees in the Division of Rheumatology and Immunology at VUMC is in the area of Precision Medicine. Leveraging a wide range of resources at Vanderbilt such as deidentified biobanks and large clinical datasets such as BioVU, faculty have collaborated on NIH-funded projects focused on the genetic susceptibility of antinuclear antibodies, as well as on the genetics of systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis susceptibility. They have electronic health records to stratify patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, and have led projects on the pharmacogenomics of immunosuppressants. In addition, they have developed strong multidisciplinary networks as they collaborate with investigators from the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute, the departments of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, and the divisions of Clinical Pharmacology, Nephrology and Infectious Diseases. 

Fellows Conference 

  • Fellows conference takes place each Wednesday from 7 to 8 am. Depending on the week, this conference consists of talks from clinician educators about the management of disease or from basic scientists about underlying pathophysiology. The last Wednesday of each month is our Fellows Journal Club, which incorporates basics of musculoskeletal ultrasound and board review. 

Department of Medicine Grand Rounds 

  • We join the Department of Medicine each Thursday from 8 to 9 a.m. to attend Medicine Grand Rounds, which covers a large variety of general medicine topics. A few of these talks per year feature invited rheumatology speakers and include national leaders who also interact with trainees.  

Patient Care Conference 

  • This is a two-part conference that takes place on Thursdays from 9:15 to 10:30 a.m. following Medicine Grand Rounds. The first half of the conference is spent reviewing plain films and other imaging modalities with colleagues in musculoskeletal radiology. The second half of the conference is dedicated to discussing recent inpatient consults or interesting outpatient encounters. This conference leads to robust discussion and allows many faculty and trainee opinions to be voiced. 

Rheumatology Division Grand Rounds 

  • This conference takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Thursdays, and includes internal and external visiting speakers, MM&I multidisciplinary conferences, journal club presentations by faculty, and fellows’ presentations. Recent topics have included The Role of MSK Ultrasound; Macrophage Activation Syndrome; Hydroxychloroquine Cardiomyopathy; Reproductive Health in Rheumatology Patients; Hidradenitis Suppurativa; Recent Clinical Trials in Vasculitis; and Uveitis. Each fellow gives two talks in this setting per year. 

Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment (CELA) 

  • The CELA experience is a great opportunity for the fellow to hone teaching skills under the supervision of an experienced faculty member. About once monthly, each second-year fellow works with a rheumatology attending and medical intern in this unique experience. The intern is observed performing a rheumatologic history and physical, with the rheumatology fellow having the opportunity to give feedback and teach history, exam and arthrocentesis procedural skills. 

Bone Center Conference 

  • Focusing on metabolic bone disease, first-year fellows present once at this interdisciplinary conference of basic, translational, and clinical researchers and trainees.  


  • Erin Chew, MD
  • Sarah Luebker, DO


  • Benjamin Boone, MD
  • Megan Hansen, MD


  • Sarah Tarplin, MD
  • Jennifer Young-Glazer, MD


  • J.B. Boone, MD
  • Tyler Reese, MD


  • Ashley Blaske, MD
  • Bret Sohn, MD


  • Lia Jamian, MD
  • Wenlu Xiong, MD


  • Kevin Byram, MD
  • Kenneth Johnsen, MD


  • Carolyn Casey, DO
  • Ami Joglekar, MD


  • Jayanth Doss, MD, MPH
  • Susan Harwell, MD
  • Oana Zaha, MD


  • Natalie Braggs, MD


  • Charles Moore, MD
  • Luma Kharabsheh, MD


  • Morteza Azimian, MD
  • Cecilia Chung-Nakandakari, MD 


  • Anne Eyler, MD, MS
  • Michelle Ormseth, MD, MSCI


  • Cara Hammonds, MD


  • David Brey, MD


  • Andrew Miller, DO


  • Chad Boomershine, MD
  • Dina Titova, MD


  • Ingrid Avalos, MD
  • Christian Rhea, DO


  • Leslie Cuevas, MD


  • Michael Watterson, MD

We utilize the Electronic Residence Application Service (ERAS) for all applications. Please refer to the information below, which outlines the list of documents required as part of the ERAS application to our program. We strongly consider all applications, and have granted interviews to applicants with J-1 and H1-B visas each year.  

Required documents include

  • Common Application Form 
  • Personal Statement 
  • Three letters of reference (one of which should be from the Residency Training Director) 
  • Dean’s Letter (from ERAS application to residency training) 
  • Medical School Transcript 
  • ECFMG Status Report, if applicable 
  • USMLE Transcript or COMLEX transcript, if applicable 
  • Photo (not required, but very helpful) 

Although Rheumatology is coordinating its use of ERAS and the match, and both are run through the AAMC, registration for the two is separate. Please refer any questions you have about this to the internal medicine subspecialties National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) called the Medical Specialties Matching Program (MSMP). 

Jasmyne Mitchell 
Fellowship Program Coordinator 
(615) 936-5747

Program Leadership

Narender Annapureddy, MD, MSCI

Associate Professor of Medicine
Director, Rheumatology Fellowship Program

Kevin Byram, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Associate Director, Rheumatology Fellowship Program

Tyler Reese, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Associate Director, Rheumatology Fellowship Program