Dr. Aisha Shaikh joined the Department of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology as an Associate Professor in September, 2020.
Dr. Shaikh completed medical school at the Dow University of Health Sciences in Pakistan. Her subsequent training included an Internal Medicine residency at St. Louis University Hospital, followed by a Rheumatology fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine. During the Internal Medicine training, she developed a keen interest in rheumatological diseases due to the complex multi-system organ involvement.
While training at Washington University, Dr. Shaikh had the privilege of working under Dr. John P. Atkinson, an internationally recognized rheumatologist and immunologist, and an embodiment of clinical excellence. The focus of Dr. Shaikh’s clinical research was a rare disease, known as Retinal Vasculopathy with Cerebral Leukodystrophy (RVCL). RVCL is an autosomal dominant disorder, with a 100% mortality. RVCL is caused by a frameshift mutation in the TREX-1 gene, that results in an alteration of the microvasculature leading to microinfarcts, especially in the white matter of the brain and the retina. Her work involved the organization and analysis of clinical and pathologic data with national and international collaborators, manuscript preparation describing the disease’s clinical phenotype, setting up predictive genetic testing for asymptomatic individuals, and caring for these patients.
Dr. Shaikh’s first position after the completion of training involved setting up a rheumatology practice for SSM at Saint Clare Hospital where she took on inpatient and outpatient rheumatology services. The ten years at SSM have enabled her to gain extensive clinical expertise while connecting and providing quality and compassionate clinical care to St. Louis and surrounding areas. The time and experience have prepared her to embrace most clinical challenges in the practice of rheumatological diseases.
Dr. Shaikh has served on various committees during her time at SSM, including the SSM-SLU Alliance Committee and the Medical Specialties Leadership Committee. The focus of the SSM-SLU Alliance committee was to create a collaboration between the SSM and SLU rheumatology divisions to streamline the clinical workflow. The Medical Specialties Leadership committee attends to policies and matters of medical specialties with representatives from each specialty. She has served as the rheumatology voice on the leadership committee since 2017, and has worked extensively on developing rheumatology quality metrics, physician compensation models, and departmental policies.
Dr. Shaikh’s clinical goal has been to develop into an authority on two of the most complex rheumatic diseases, vasculitis and connective tissue disease-related interstitial lung disease (CTD-ILD). She envisions a Center of Clinical Excellence at Washington University for Vasculitis/Vasculopathy and CTD-ILD. These disease processes require a multi-specialty management approach, which can be achieved in collaboration with other medical specialties at Washington University. With her dedication and hard work, she will strive to provide excellent clinical care to the patients while also focusing on the teaching of residents and fellows, and continued self-education and development.
Dr. Shaikh is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology. She is thrilled about returning to Washington University School of Medicine and continuing her onward journey in clinical medicine within the Division of Rheumatology.