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July 31, 2020

Dr. Carmen Mikacenic Joins Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason

Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI) welcomes Carmen Mikacenic, MD, as an Associate Member in the Center for Translational Immunology.

Dr. Mikacenic’s research studies interstitial lung disease, which results from some autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis; and explores aspects of acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, using airway samples collected from the lungs of local COVID-19 patients.

In addition to her work as a BRI primary investigator, Dr. Mikacenic, a pulmonary and critical care physician, will be seeing patients as part of the pulmonology team at Virginia Mason Medical Center.

 “I am very happy to have Dr. Mikacenic join the faculty at BRI,” said Jane Buckner, MD, president of BRI. “Her work exemplifies translational immunology, and her experience as a clinician who cares for critically ill patients with lung disease has led her to study why some do well and others do not.”

ARDS is an inflammation of the lungs that can occur with pneumonia as well as COVID-19. Currently, COVID patients who develop ARDS go on ventilators to help them breathe while waiting for the condition to resolve on its own. The discovery of better treatments to address ARDS in these patients is a major goal of Dr. Mikacenic’s research.

“Dr. Mikacenic investigates how an individual’s genetic makeup and their immune responses influence the outcome of lung disease,” Buckner said. “Now more than ever, her expertise in understanding the interface between immunology and lung disease is needed at BRI, to help us tackle the challenge of COVID19 and autoimmune diseases that attack the lung,” she said.

Having already played a major role in helping initiate BRI studies of COVID-19 patients, Dr. Mikacenic will now expand on this work leveraging such resources as the BRI biorepository of more than 250,000 donated blood and tissue samples with medical histories.

Dr. Mikacenic graduated from the University of Washington School of Medicine, completed a residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and has practiced at the UW and Harborview Medical Center. She was recently a senior author on a New England Journal of Medicine paper describing COVID-19 patients in our region.