Dr. Ashira Blazer joined HSS in 2022 as an Assistant Attending Physician and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Weil Cornell Medical College. She received her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine and completed her residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She went on to complete rheumatology fellowship and a masters of science at NYU School of Medicine, where she trained in the laboratories of Drs. Jill Buyon and Timothy Niewold.
Dr. Blazer specializes in the treatment of all rheumatic diseases including undifferentiated connective tissue disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, inflammatory arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematous (SLE), particularly in patients of African ancestry. Considered a prototypic autoimmune disorder, SLE represents a phenotypically heterogeneous syndrome with multiple genetic, environmental, and immunologic causes. As a physician scientist, Dr. Blazer studies the interplay between genetic polymorphisms commonly found in African ancestry backgrounds, environmental and social stressors, and SLE pathogenesis. With increased prevalence of kidney, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension, SLE patients of African ancestry often experience higher disease severity and accelerated damage accrual. Dr. Blazer's work aims to understand contributing factors, and gain insights into personalized treatment options for this most vulnerable group of patients.
Dr. Blazer's primary area of focus is in studying two cytokine-responsive genetic variants of apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) gene, which have been linked to both atherosclerosis and renal disease in African ancestry populations. In SLE, chronic inflammation may be an important amplifying factor increasing the consequence of carrying one or more APOL1 variant. Her early work has identified that SLE patients who carry these variants have an increased risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and overall organ damage accrual. In a truly translational approach, Dr. Blazer has utilized cell culture techniques to understand how SLE-relevant immune mediators, such as interferons, increase APOL1 expression and precipitate cytotoxicity. She has recently received grant funding to study the specific immune pathways that induce APOL1 gene expression in SLE. She ultimately aims to identify potential ways to repurpose targeted biologic therapy to both impact SLE disease activity and genetic risk in APOL1 variant carriers.
Dr. Blazer is widely seen as an area expert in SLE, and has been recognized by the National Minority Quality Forum as a Top 40 under 40 leader in minority health. She is a thought leader in SLE disparities and has served in leadership roles for the American College of Rheumatology, Lupus Foundation of America, Lupus Research Alliance, Association of Women in Rheumatology, African League of Associations for Rheumatology, and Lupus Nephritis Trials Network Among others.
Systemic lupus erythematosus
Rheumatic disease in African ancestry individuals
Interarticular joint injections
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Assistant Attending Physician, Hospital for Special Surgery
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Weil Cornell Medical College
Board Certification in Internal Medicine ABIM
Board Certification in Rheumatology ABIM
The National Minority Quality Forum, Top 40 Under 40 Leaders in Health Award, 2020
NIH Rising Star, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2019
NYU School of Medicine, DIMOND Excellence in Mentorship, Department of Internal Medicine, 2019
Nigerian Society for Rheumatology, Commitment to Fellow and Faculty Development Award, 2018
Rheumatology Research Foundation, Workshop Scholarship Recipient, 2016
American College of Rheumatology, Distinguished Fellow Award, 2015
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Levi Watkins Jr. Award, 2013
Medical School: Baylor College of Medicine, 2010
Internship: Internal Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2011
Residency: Internal Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2013
Fellowship: Rheumatology, New York University School of Medicine, 2015
Baylor College of Medicine, 2010
Internal Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2011
Internal Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2013
Rheumatology, New York University School of Medicine, 2015
Blazer, Ashira, et al. "Dietary and Lifestyle Cardiometabolic Risk Reduction Strategies in Pro-inflammatory Diseases." Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease. Humana, Cham, 2021. 179-191.
Blazer, Ashira D; Ayanlowo, Olusola; Liao, Will; Dey, Dzifa, Divers, Jasmin; Ima-Edomwonyin, Uyiekpen; Olaosebikan, Hakeem, Lanata, Cristina; Nadkarni, Girish; Buyon, Jill; Izmirly, Peter; and Niewold, Timothy. EPI-SIGN: Epigenetic SLE Indicators of Glomerular Nephritis. American College of Rheumatology, Annual Meeting, Virtual Meeting. November, 2020.
Blazer, A; Fernandez-Ruiz, R; Masson, M; Haberman, R; Castillo, R; Scher, J; Algasas, H; Guttmann, A; Carliucci, P; Deonaraine, K; Golpanian, M; Robins, K; Chang, M; Belmont, H M; Buyon, J; Saxena, A; Izmirly, P Neighborhood Deprivation and Race/Ethnicity Affects COVID-19 Risk and Severity in SLE. American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, Virtual Meeting. November, 2020.
Kevin Yip, Elizaveta Efuni, Yingzhi Qian, Robert Clancy, Jill P Buyon, and Ashira Blazer, [Oral Presentation]. Avascular Necrosis Is Associated With APOL1 Variants in African Americans With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, ACR, Atlanta, GA. November, 2019.
Ashira Blazer, Allison Guttmann, Ida Dzifa Dey, Olusola Ayanlowo, Hakeem Olasebikan, UYI Ima- Edomwonyi, Margaret Reynolds, Festus Ankrah, Olufemi Adelowo, [Poster Presentation; Press Release]. A Tale of Three Cohorts: SLE Criteria in Developed vs Developing Countries. American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, ACR, Atlanta, GA.November, 2019.
Ashira Blazer MD, Miao Chang, PhD, Kimberly Robins, Jill P Buyon, Robert Clancy PhD, [Poster presentation]. Apolipoprotein L1 Variant-Carrying Monocytes Exhibit Mitochondrial Respiration Defects. American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, ACR, Atlanta, GA. November 2019.
Ashira Blazer, Ming Wu, Nancyanne Schmidt, Alana Engelbrecht, Feng-Xia Liang, Robert Clancy, Jill Buyon, and H. Michael Belmont [Poster Presentation]. Apolipoprotein L1 Risk Variants, Renal Histopathology, and Prognosis in African American SLE Nephritis Patients: A Cohort Study American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, ACR, Chicago, Illinois. October 2018.
Ashira Blazer MD*, Ida Dzifa Dey MD*, Margret Reynolds, Festus Ankrah, Nancyanne Schmidt MD, Robert Clancy PhD, Jill Buyon MD, [Oral Presentation]. Apolipoprotein L1 Risk Variants Associate with Poor Renal Outcomes, Damage Accrual, and Death: A Prospective Ghanaian SLE Cohort. American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, ACR, Chicago, Illinois. November 2018.
Ashira Blazer MD, Sara E Rasmussen, Androo J Markham, Shilpi Mehta-Lee MD, Jill P Buyon, Robert Clancy PhD, Interferon-Induced APOL1 Over-Expression Causes Autophagic Dysfunction and Mitochondrial Stress in Risk Variant-Carrying Endothelial Cells, [Oral Presentation]. American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, ACR, San Diego, CA. November 2018.
Ashira Blazer MD, Robert Clancy PhD, Michael Belmont MD, Sean Heffron MD, Peter Izmirly MD, Androo Markham, Jill Buyon MD, Apolipoprotein L1 Risk Variants Associate with Prevalent Cardiovascular Disease in African American Systemic Lupus Erythematous Patients, [Oral Presentation]. American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, ACR, Washington, DC. November 2016.
Blazer A, Markham A, Rasmussen S, Buyon JP, Belmont HM, Mehta-Lee S, Nwaukoni J, Izmirly PM, Clancy R. Heritable Endotheliopathy and ApolipoproteinL1 Risk Traits in SLE [Poster Presentation]. American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, ACR, San Francisco, CA. November 2015.
Dr. Blazer's current translational research project focuses on polymorphisms in the Apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) gene, which are exceptionally common in those of West African heritage as they confer protection against African trypanosomiasis. APOL1, a major contributor to excess renal and cardiovascular risk in the African diaspora, is responsive to inflammatory cytokines and may be of heightened consequence in chronic inflammatory disease sufferers such as SLE patients. She is interested in integrative computational methods for elucidating immune regulation of APOL1, and the resultant risk phenotypes in SLE. Ultimately she aims to identify accessible biomarkers of APOL1 associated disease in SLE patients, and contributory interacting factors which can be targeted to improve therapies.
Work in both of these areas is designed to identify key mechanisms of disease affecting patients of African ancestry which may be targeted to improve clinical outcomes. Dr. Blazer has spearheaded unique African ancestry biorepositories, including in collaboration with rheumatologists in Accra, Ghana, and Lagos Nigeria, that continue to generate patient samples and clinical data. With the goal of becoming a leader in lupus throughout the African diaspora, these cohorts create the foundation for her academic career in understanding SLE in African ancestry patients.
The ethnic determinants of disease severity in ancestrally African systemic lupus erythematosus patients
ApolipoproteinL1 genetic variants and their contribution to kidney and cardiovascular disease in systemic lupus
HSS has a long history of supporting appropriate relationships with industry because they advance HSS's mission to provide the highest quality patient care, improve patient mobility, and enhance the quality of life for all, and to advance the science of orthopedic surgery, rheumatology, and their related disciplines through research and education.
Below are the healthcare industry relationships reported by Dr. Blazer as of February 01, 2022.
HSS and its physicians make this information available to patients and the public, thus creating a transparent environment for those who are interested in this information. Further, the HSS Conflicts of Interest and Commitment Policy prohibits physicians from collecting royalties on products they develop that are used on patients at HSS.
Patients should feel free to ask their HSS physicians questions about these relationships.