Medical Leadership

Medical Leadership

Lee Shapiro, MD
Chief Medical Officer

Shapiro_350x400.jpgDr. Shapiro, a prominent rheumatologist, plays a leading role in the foundation as its Chief Medical Officer and as an  Executive Committee Member. Dr. Shapiro is a professor at Albany Medical College, as well as an active researcher.  His research focuses on vascular aspects of scleroderma, Degos disease, calcinosis and related disorders. Dr. Shapiro has authored and co-authored numerous medical publications and abstracts. His practice site is the Scleroderma Center,  Albany Med, Division of Rheumatology in Malta, New York. 

He received his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Yale University and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Shapiro completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Presbyterian–University Hospital, Pittsburgh, and served his Fellowship in rheumatology at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine. Dr. Shapiro is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and in rheumatology, Subspecialty Board. His affiliations include Fellow of the American College of Rheumatology, Fellow of the American College of Physicians, and he is a member of New York State Rheumatology Society and serves on the Medical Advisory Board of the Scleroderma Foundation’s Tri-State Chapter.

Dr. Shapiro has been honored for his tireless advocacy and compassionate treatment of patients affected by scleroderma and Degos disease. His accolades include being named the Scleroderma Foundation Doctor of the Year, receiving the Distinguished Physician Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 by the Scleroderma Foundation, and being inducted into the CDPHP Physicians Academy, which recognizes physicians who serve as role models to their medical colleagues and who act as ambassadors in fostering the delivery of high-value health care.

Jessica Farrell, PharmD
Associate Medical Officer

Farrell_350x400.jpgDr. Farrell, the foundation’s Associate Medical Officer, is a professor at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS). Her practice site is The Center for Rheumatology in Albany, NY where she provides a variety of clinical pharmacy services including pharmacotherapy consult services, patient counseling, and self-injection training visits. She serves as program coordinator for the ACPHS PGY-2 Ambulatory Care Pharmacy Residency program, is a member of the American College of Rheumatology Government Affairs Committee, and was the first pharmacist member of the national Scleroderma Foundation Medical and Scientific Advisory Board. She also has previously held officer positions for the New York State Council of Health-System Pharmacists (NYSCHP)-Northeastern Chapter.

Dr. Farrell received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Subsequent to this, she completed an ASHP-Accredited Pharmacy Practice Residency at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, NJ.

Dr. Farrell presents nationally and internationally on numerous rheumatic conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, scleroderma, and pregnancy/lactation in rheumatic disease. She has received multiple professional awards including Preceptor of Distinction in Clinical Pharmacy, Steffens Scleroderma Foundation Ernest J. Dupont Award, Faculty Advisor of the Year and the Scleroderma Foundation 2019 Doctor of the Year.  

Medical Advisors to Steffens

Dr. Tracy M. Frech

dr frech.jpgDr. Tracy M Frech is delighted to join the Steffens Scleroderma Foundation. She trained at the University of Utah for internal medicine and pediatrics residency, adult rheumatology fellowship, and a holds an MS in clinical investigation. Dr. Frech’s primary goal in research and clinical care is early diagnosis and effective health care delivery to the systemic sclerosis (SSc) population. Her specific research interest is to better understand the natural history of symptomatic vasculopathy in SSc. To that end, through collaborations with Prospective Registry of Early SSc (PRESS), the INception SYstemic Sclerosis Cohort (INSYNC), the Collaborative Quality and Efficacy National Registry (CONQUER) for SSc, and the Utah Vascular Research Laboratory (UVRL). Her academic career focuses on improvements in diagnosis and treatment of SSc through meticulous patient phenotyping. Dr. Frech’s 15 year tenure as Director of the University of Utah SSc Clinic, principal investigator of multiple clinical trials, participation in several international collaborative efforts, has identified the importance of outcome definitions and data standardization for effectively monitoring and treating SSc patients.  Dr. Frech is currently seeing SSc patients at Vanderbilt University, her primary academic appointment. She also serves as an adjunct associate professor at the University of Utah. She presents her research at national and international scientific meetings as well as at patient outreach conferences.  She is passionate about clinical and translational research in SSc, and believes precision medicine techniques hold promise for discovery in SSc.  Dr. Frech is dedicated to teaching medical students, residents, and fellows in clinic, as well as through their research projects. Her aim is to develop the next generation of academic rheumatologists committed to clinical and research excellence and compassionate health care delivery.

Dr. Lesley A. Saketkoo

dr sadetkoo.jpg

Dr. Lesley A Saketkoo, MD, MPH, is a researcher, educator and clinician in scleroderma/systemic sclerosis, sarcoidosis, myositis, pulmonary hypertension and interstitial lung disease. In 2011, she established the Scleroderma and Sarcoidosis Patient Care and Research Center between Tulane and Louisiana State University, “center of excellence” by the European Scleroderma Trials and Research Group (EUSTAR), the Scleroderma Foundation, and the Scleroderma Clinical Trials Consortium (SCTC).; and also established the Pulmonary Hypertension clinic program at LSU, which is now the LSU-Tulane collaborative Comprehensive Pulmonary Hypertension Center (CPHC) at University Medical Center, a Pulmonary Hypertension Association certified center of excellence.

In addition to clinical trials and registries in rare multi-organ system diseases, Dr. Saketkoo is dedicated to research that illuminates patient priorities and incorporates patients' expertise in clinical trial design, learning about the disease, along with how manifestations of the disease begin and evolve over time. Dr. Saketkoo has been dedicated to wellness education that empowers patients living with chronic illness for biological and psychosocial wellness. She is a founder of G-FoRSS, the Global Fellowship on Rehabilitation and Exercise in Systemic Sclerosis, which is group of PTs, OTs, physicians, and basic scientists dedicated to defining exercise and physical activity's medicinal impact on systemic inflammation, fibrosis, functional ability and psychosocial ease in SSc. Dr. Saketkoo was named Doctor of the Year in 2018 by the Scleroderma Foundation.


Dr. John Patrick Whelan

dr whalen.jpgDr. John Patrick Whelan, MD Ph.D. is an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Rheumatology at UCLA. He completed his undergraduate degree in biochemistry at Harvard University, the Ph.D. degree at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, and the MD degree at Baylor College of Medicine. He completed rheumatology training at Harvard and was for twenty years a pediatric rheumatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. His research interests pertain to non-inflammatory vasculopathies, particularly Kohlmeier-Degos disease.

Dr. Shapiro’s and Dr. Whelan’s joint efforts began over a decade ago when Dr. Shapiro consulted Dr. Whelan regarding a critically ill pediatric Degos patient.  One result of this collaboration has been the development of an international Degos Disease study group.


Dr. David Leader

Dave Leader 211007_9344_healthsciences086 (2).JPGDr. David Leader, DMD, MPH. is a general dentist who has treated patients who have scleroderma since 1983. Dr Leader is an Associate Professor and Director of the Emergency Clinic of the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and co-director of the DMD/MPH dual degree program. He is a member of the Scleroderma Foundation’s Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee and is a consultant for the Scleroderma Patient Intervention Network (SPIN). Dr David Leader received the Scleroderma Foundation Doctor of the Year Award in 2008. Dr Leader has been a regular speaker for the National Scleroderma Foundation and regional chapters since 2005.





Stephen Veit, Histotechnologist

Stephen Veit has worked at Albany Medical Center for the past 19 years in the Pathology department. He holds the position of Technical Specialist and is a national and state certified Histotechnologist. His position at the hospital requires some responsibility regarding management of the laboratory. While in this position, Stephen continues to work towards finishing his doctorate in Medical Ethics. Dr. Shapiro established a working relationship with Stephen Veit as a result of their professional paths crossing at Albany Medical Center.