Franklin Park's Dr. Manzi awarded Clinical Practice Award

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:58 p.m.

When Dr. Susan Manzi was a student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, she learned of the disease lupus and decided to devote her career to studying it.

More than 20 years later, Manzi, 52, of Franklin Park, was awarded the Clinical Practice Award from the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Physicians, or ACP, in recognition of her exceptional service to patients, the community and the medical profession.

“I felt very privileged and honored to be recognized by my peers for what I love to do,” Manzi said. “I am very grateful.”

The award was given during the ACP Pennsylvania Chapter annual awards dinner Dec. 1 in Hershey.

ACP is a professional medical organization with 7,000 members who provide care to adult patients.

Manzi is co-founder of the Lupus Center of Excellence at The West Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh's Bloomfield neighborhood and serves as chairwoman of the Department of Medicine for the West Penn Allegheny Health System. She is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in lupus patient care and research, her colleagues said.

“We chose Dr. Manzi to recognize her expertise in teaching and clinical work with patients, as well as her contributions to the care of patients in general,” said Dr. Alan Yeasted, 64, governor of the Western Pennsylvania ACP and a Mt. Lebanon resident.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage the skin, joints and kidneys. Ninety percent of patients diagnosed with the disease are women, and serious cases can result in premature stroke, heart attack and death, Manzi said.

“It is a very mysterious disease,” Manzi said. “I have seen many young women die from it, and it just seemed like this shouldn't happen.”

A member of the board of directors and medical advisory committee for the Lupus Foundation of America, or LFA, Manzi recently helped the foundation unveil a new national initiative to campaign for research money, promote education about the disease and spread awareness of it.

“If you're having certain symptoms and you don't even know this disease exists, you can't be your own advocate,” Manzi said.

Manzi has also collaborated with other doctors to design a blood test that improves the accuracy of a lupus diagnosis.

Dr. Fotios Koumpouras of Fox Chapel is medical director of the Lupus Center for Excellence and has worked with Manzi for six years.

“Pittsburgh is extremely fortunate to have such a talented doctor,” Koumpouras said.

“She's a very talented and special rheumatologist.”

Lupus research can have an impact on a “long list” of other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and even type I diabetes, Manzi said.

“I have always said that if we make a breakthrough (in lupus research), it will have a trickle-down effect on other, similar autoimmune conditions,” Manzi said. “There's no question in my mind.”

Melanie Donahoo is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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