Maples reports no relevant financial disclosures.
Among other roles, Kelly Maples, MD, can now count herself among the members of Healio’s Allergy/Asthma Peer Perspective Board.
As a member of the board, she will share experience gained through her work as an associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School and the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia.
As chair of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Dermatology Committee, she also is committed to educating her peers as well as teachers, parents and school nurses in her community about food allergy, asthma and other allergic conditions.
Healio spoke with Maples to find out more about her approach to treatment, what she does outside of the clinic and what she hopes for the specialty’s future.
Healio: How did you come to pursue allergy and immunology as your specialty?
Maples: I had an excellent immunology professor in college at Rutgers University who sparked my interest. I then had the opportunity to do research on CD40-CD40 ligand interactions in her lab, which further developed my interest.
During my clinical training, I was drawn to the wide range of conditions and ages that allergists/immunologists treat and to the chance to significantly improve patients’ quality of life. I was an atopic child myself and, as a result, appreciated how my allergic diseases impact patients and families.
Healio: Do you have a particular area of allergy and immunology that you enjoy the most?
Maples: I enjoy the overall variety of our specialty offers, but I have a special interest in atopic skin conditions. I find these conditions rewarding to treat. Atopic skin conditions impact patients beyond the physical symptoms of itching, rashes or dryness. They impact sleep and, because they are visible to others, self-esteem as well.
Healio: What challenges do you face regularly in practice that keep you up at night?
Maples: Improving disparities in health care. After attending an annual meeting session on atopic dermatitis (AD) in skin of color, I realized my own lack of training on the presentation and appearance of atopic skin diseases in skin of color. I am now committed to closing this gap in clinical education not only for myself but for my peers as well. I have used my positions within the ACAAI to help improve education on this one contributor to health care disparities, but many educational gaps remain.
Healio: What do you like to do outside of clinical practice?
Maples: I enjoy traveling and travel planning. We just got back from Europe. We went for fun! We visited Spain, France, Italy and Greece. Barcelona, Roma and Capri were my favorites. We also enjoy visiting our national parks.
Healio: What would you say has been the most exciting development in allergy and asthma treatment over the last decade?
Maples: The explosion of biological and other targeted therapies. Treatment of asthma, AD and hereditary angioedema (HAE) has improved dramatically during the years I’ve been practicing. New treatments have shifted the goal posts for our patients.
Previous HAE treatments were mediocre and wrought with side effects. Now, many patients live essentially attack-free. Patients with severe AD with large body surface area involvement can often achieve clear or almost clear skin. And asthmatics can often achieve control without the harmful effects of chronic systemic corticosteroids.
Healio: What advances are you most looking forward to over the next 10 years?
Maples: Continued development of and access to targeted therapies and improved education on preventing health care disparities.
Access to newer AD therapies often requires the prescriber to complete an AD severity scoring tool such as the Eczema Area and Severity Index or Validated nvestigator Global Assessment for Atopic Dermatitis. Studies have shown that many clinicians do not recognize the colors and morphologies of AD in skin of color, leading them to underestimate disease severity. This in turn can lead patients to not qualify for coverage.
We need more images of all skin diseases in skin of color in our training. I now include this in all lectures I give to residents, and I am working to have these images included in national presentations at annual meetings. I’ve also contributed to the development of the Eczema in Skin of Color website.
For more information:
Kelly Maples, MD, can be reached at email@example.com.