Mara L. Becker, MD, MSCE, joined the Department of Pediatrics as an associate professor of pediatrics in the Division of Rheumatology and vice chair for faculty development on July 15, 2019. Her position as vice chair of faculty development will specifically focus on mentoring faculty and trainees at all levels, targeting opportunities for leadership and career growth, and selecting career priorities that will facilitate academic promotion.
After completing a medical doctorate at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Becker completed residency training in pediatrics at Thomas Jefferson University/Nemours Foundation, DuPont Hospital for Children where she was also chief resident. She also completed postgraduate fellowship training in pediatric rheumatology during her time there. She then completed a master’s of science in clinical epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania and a second fellowship in clinical pharmacology at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics.
Becker’s background as a dually trained pediatric rheumatologist and clinical pharmacologist has been instrumental in helping to form the foundation for her translational research interests in the variability in drug response, mainly involving methotrexate and the impact on folate homeostasis in juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) patients. This area of work has comprised a large part of her research career and now, in part, forms a component of PROMOTE, an NICHD-funded R01 study that aims to predict response to methotrexate utilizing genomic and metabolic profiles. She also has a strong interest in using cellular folate to guide appropriate MTX dosing in patients with Down syndrome, as well as investigating therapeutic drug monitoring of biologic therapies and novel biomarkers of drug response in JIA.
She has contributed to work published in journals such as the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Arthritis & Rheumatology, and Arthritis Care & Research. She is actively serving in national organizations such as the FDA Arthritis Advisory Committee, the American Board of Pediatrics, the American College of Rheumatology, and the Childhood Arthritis Rheumatology Research Alliance.
At Children’s Mercy she served as the division director of Rheumatology where she grew their group to nine outstanding faculty. She has also served as an associate chair for the Department of Pediatrics working with divisions such as neurology, developmental pediatrics, genetics, and rehabilitation in addition to rheumatology to advance physician career development and provide oversight for the clinical and academic programs.
“Dr. Becker’s impressive strengths as a clinician, researcher, educator and mentor make her a great fit for our faculty and the ideal leader for our departmental faculty development program,” said Ann M. Reed, MD, chair of the Department of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief of Duke Children’s. “We are fortunate that she will be serving in these new roles.”