My path toward the field of infectious diseases was a bit winding. My love for immunology began at a young age. I was inspired to become an immunologist by my father, a rheumatologist and immunologist, whose license plate happens to be “T cell.” From the beginning, he made learning about the immune system fun and this still rings true with me today. At age 15, I spent my summer in the Cleveland Clinic microbiology lab with Dr. Belinda Yen-Lieberman. She taught me about virology, and I became fascinated with HIV. I always knew I wanted to be a rheumatologist but discovered that the intersection of infectious disease and rheumatology was the niche for me. With an immense amount of support from Carlos Isada, my ID program director, and Abby Abelson, my rheumatology program director, as well as from my father, I was fortunate to serve as the beta test subject of a 3-year combined fellowship in rheumatology and infectious disease, from which I graduated in 2018. Dr. Isada is the type of physician who is hard to come by these days — being a doctor is not “just a job” for him, but a life passion, and learning from him made it impossible to do anything but love the field of infectious diseases. Today I am lucky to practice medicine at the intersection of my two passions — seeing patients with infectious complications of immunosuppression, rheumatic manifestations of infections and HIV, and focusing on infection prevention and immunization. I am also lucky to get to work with my dad every day (and my sister, who also works in my department). I learn something new and have fun every day.
– Cassandra Calabrese, DO
Department of rheumatic and immunologic disease
Department of infectious disease
Cleveland Clinic Foundation