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May Choi, MD, FRCPC

May Choi, MD, FRCPC

2019 Career Development Awardee

University of Calgary
Mentor: Karen Costenbader, MD, MPH
Study: LEAAPPS: Longitudinal Examination of ANA Associations, Prevalence, and Performance in SLE

About the Researcher

May Choi was born and raised in Alberta, Canada. While she was growing up, her late father was a rheumatologist who served as her inspiration and role model for doing science and medicine. She completed a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree with honors at the University of Calgary in 2010 and received her Doctorate of Medicine in 2014 at the University of Alberta.
 
Choi was touched by the impact her father had made on the lives of so many of his patients and the Canadian rheumatology community, so she decided to follow in his footsteps, completing both her internal medicine training in 2017 and rheumatology fellowship in June 2019 at University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine. During her training, she developed a strong passion for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) research under the mentorship of Drs. Marvin Fritzler, an international expert on autoantibodies, and Ann Clarke, an international expert in lupus. Her research accomplishments were recognized with several awards, including the Arthritis Research Canada/Lilly Early Rheumatology Researcher Scholarship in 2018 and 2019 and the Best Poster and Best Oral Presentation at Internal Medicine Research Day at the Cumming School of Medicine in 2016 and 2017.
 
Dr. Choi is now the associate director of the Mitogen Advanced Diagnostics Laboratory and the associate director of the University of Calgary’s Lupus Centre of Excellence in Calgary. For the next two years, with the support of the Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Award from the Lupus Foundation of America, she will pursue further training at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital under the supervision and mentoring of Dr. Karen Costenbader, a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and lupus expert, and obtain a Master’s degree in Epidemiology Program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Project Summary

The antinuclear antibody (ANA) test, which is used for diagnosing and classifying systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), has become more important than ever. A positive ANA at a titer of ≥1:80 on HEp-2 cells or an equivalent positive test occurring at least once is the new entry criterion for the 2019 European League Against Rheumatism/American College of Rheumatology (EULAR/ACR) SLE classification criteria.
 
However, emerging data suggests there is a wide variation in the performance of different ANA assays and the conventional gold-standard immunofluorescence assays (IFA) on HEp-2 cells may be replaced or complimented by newer generation solid-phase multi-analyte immunoassays (SPMAI). Even by the same assay, ANA test results may vary over time, although this variation and the clinical factors associated with it have not been well studied. No longitudinal ANA studies have been performed in large, well-characterized clinical cohorts of SLE patients. While the clinical implications of ANA testing in early and established SLE remain unclear, several novel autoantibodies have been discovered in SLE patients that might further inform ANA testing and B cell dynamics in SLE.
 
Given this background, we will perform the LEAAPPS study: Longitudinal Examination of ANA Associations, Prevalence, and Performance in SLE. LEAAPPS is the largest international systematic, longitudinal review of ANA in SLE. It will improve our understanding of ANA trajectories over the disease course, determine the optimal method(s) to assess ANA status, and identify factors including demographic, clinical, and serological features associated with ANA trajectories. 

Selected Awards

Gary Gilkeson Career Development Award
Lupus Foundation of America

Dr. Subrata Ghosh Fellowship Award
Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB

Practice Reflection Silver Award
Canadian Rheumatology Association Annual Meeting, Montreal, QC

Best Abstract by a Rheumatology Resident
Canadian Rheumatology Association Annual Meeting, Montreal and Vancouver

2019 Helios UCMG Post Fellowship Training Award
Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB

Arthritis Research Canada/Lilly Early Rheumatology Researcher Scholarship, Richmond, BC

Master Class in the SLE Basic and Clinical Sciences Selected Participant
Lupus 21st Century 2018 Conference, Armonk, NY

Best Oral Presentation at Internal Medicine Research Day
Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB

Best Poster at Internal Medicine Research Day
Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB

Selected Publications

  1. Choi M and Fritzler M. Autoantibodies in SLE: Prediction and the p Value Matrix. Lupus, Aug. 2019, doi:10.1177/0961203319868531.
  2. Choi M and Fritzler M. Challenges and Advances in SLE Autoantibody Detection and Interpretation. Current Treatment Options in Rheumatology. 2019 Jun 15;5(2):147-67.
  3. Choi M, Clarke A, St. Pierre Y, [and 39 others, including Fritzler M]. Antinuclear Antibody-Negative Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in an International Inception Cohort. Arthritis Care & Research. 2018 Jul 25.

Learn more about research funded by the Lupus Foundation of America


For more information on Lupus Foundation on America’s granted research, please contact Ashley Marion at [email protected]