Jennifer Anolik, M.D., Ph.D., associate chair of research for the department of Medicine, has been named interim chief of the division of Allergy, Immunology & Rheumatology (AIR).
Anolik started at the University of Rochester as a student, earning her M.D. and Ph.D. in biochemistry as part of the Medical Scientist Training Program. She completed her residency in internal medicine followed by fellowship in rheumatology at URMC. Believing that “there isn’t a better place” than the Medical Center, she stayed on as faculty for the last 20 years, bringing her total time with the University to 33 years.
“Dr. Anolik has demonstrated excellence across each of our core missions and is an ideal choice for interim chief,” said Ruth O’Regan, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine. “I’m excited to see her take the reins of the AIR division. I know she’ll be an outstanding leader.”
Anolik succeeds Christopher Ritchlin, M.D., M.P.H., who has been with the University since 1991 as a faculty member, and spent the last eight years as division chief. As he steps down, Ritchlin will remain with the University to focus on teaching and research, with a concentration on psoriatic arthritis. During his tenure as chief, the AIR division has grown in both size and research funding. He was recently honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Anolik has an active research program with a focus on human B cell biology and underlying pathogenic mechanisms of rheumatologic conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. She is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, has been continually NIH funded throughout her career, and is PI of the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) Network, focused on developing precision medicine approaches to the treatment of autoimmune disease. On the clinical side, Anolik focuses on lupus and is committed to translating state-of-the-art advances to her patients, as exemplified by her organization of a yearly patient Lupus Education Day for the past 15 years.
One of Anolik’s passions is teaching and mentorship. She is the program director of the Physician Scientist Training Program, which offers career development to physician scientists. This ties in with her goals for the AIR division: to support faculty so they can be successful, and to bring diversity and equity to different areas of research. By providing stellar mentorship to students, residents and fellows, Anolik hopes that they will stay on to become faculty as she did.
Anolik also created the K Club, where trainees and junior faculty can present their NIH grant applications to senior faculty for input and feedback. The program is designed to increase their chances of successfully receiving funding.
“We have a very talented faculty and division,” said Anolik. “My goal as chief is to make sure individuals are successful in their endeavors, and to bring even more collaboration to our clinical care and research by breaking down silos with other divisions and departments and finding common themes. Education and mentoring are a high priority of mine, because the future depends on who we’re training.”