Department of Medicine
Faculty Profiles by Division

Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology

Faculty Profiles

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photo Julius Birnbaum, MD

Rheumatology

Email: birnbaumj@upmc.edu

Phone: 412-586-3550

Contact
Office: University of Pittsburgh, Lupus Center of Excellence
3708 Fifth Avenue, Suite 501
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
 
Phone: 412-586-3550
Fax: 412-586-3540
E-mail: birnbaumj@upmc.edu
Administrative Assistant:
Kim Reynolds
Phone: 412-648-9782
Fax: 412-383-8753
Education and Training
Education
MD, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, 1998
MHS, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2007
Training
Internship, Stony Brook University Hospital, New York, 1999
Resident, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, 2003
Resident, Jacobi Medical Center, New York, 2005
Fellow, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Maryland, 2008
Research Interest
As a neurologist and rheumatologist, my research has focused on elucidating clinical features, mechanisms, and treatment for patients with neurological complications of rheumatic diseases. In particular, we have identified under-recognized neurological phenotypes (i.e. small-fiber neuropathies and subtypes of demyelinating syndromes), defined how such neurological phenotypes may be associated with novel biomarkers (anti-neuronal antibodies and neuroimaging strategies), and powerfully leveraged these studies to develop new diagnostic and treatment approaches.

I am also an author focusing on how patient language can help illuminate diagnostic and treatment opportunities that may be overlooked by physicians. I have an upcoming book (Johns Hopkins Press) devoted to autoimmune diseases, emphasizing how the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune diseases can be presented to patients in informative, stimulating, and even enjoyable ways. Therefore, I have an interest in teaching trainees how the metaphors and narratives that patients use to describe pain can be used as hypothesis-driven strategies to define mechanisms and treatment in autoimmune diseases.
Clinical Interest
As a neurologist and a rheumatologist, I have a particular interest in caring for patients with Central Nervous System (CNS) complications of autoimmune diseases. These hybrid neurology-rheumatology syndromes present exciting challenges which can significantly improve a patient’s quality-of-life. Because of these multi-disciplinary challenges, I constantly try to take advantage of the talents and amazing insights that can be provided by a potential wealth of collaborators at the University of Pittsburgh.
Amongst all diseases, I think that rheumatology arguably requires an ongoing love and appreciation of internal medicine that is hard-won during the residency years. As a consequence, a major career-goal is to use the perspective of rheumatology as a catalyst such that I can still be an effective physician and teacher of internal medicine. As a result, I relish opportunities to serve as an in-patient attending on internal medicine services, and teaching internal medicine residents and medical students in this context. During these rotations, I explore with trainees how the unique interconnectivity between rheumatology and internal medicine can offer exciting glimpses into a broad subset of internal medicine disorders that might have subtle or unrecognized immune-mediated mechanisms.
Educational Interest
I am seeking to develop a hybrid neurology-rheumatology clinic, focusing on patients presenting with multi-disciplinary illnesses that include neurological complications of rheumatic diseases. My goal is to include trainees at different levels and from different disciplinary backgrounds, including medical students, neurology and internal medicine residents, and neuroimmunology as well as rheumatology fellows. I also mentor internal medicine residents who are unsure about post-residency plans. I am also involved in working with internal medicine residents who need remedial work to improve clinical skillsets or their base of medical knowledge. Yet I find such interactions to be mutually rewarding and rejuvenating. In doing so I am aware that it is an opportunity to instill self-confidence, and to ensure that a trainee's perspective of her medical career is always viewed as a joyous privilege.
Publications
For my complete bibliography, Click Here.
Notable Achievements
American College of Rheumatology OMERACT Grant, 2008
American College of Rheumatology Distinguished Fellow, 2008