Bringing calm and organization to chaos: This is what led Greg Dennis, MD, to pursue a career in rheumatology. Dr. Dennis who, at the time, was an internal medicine resident at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colo., was seeking a subspecialty that would allow him to pursue immunology in a clinical or laboratory setting. What he realized during his residency was that rheumatology was a mystery to many physicians.
“The research in rheumatology and the medicines available to treat the diseases were really lacking in those days,” says Dr. Dennis, who is now senior director, medical affairs at Human Genome Sciences in Rockville, Md. “Patients would come in with a chronic condition and the internal medicine physician wouldn’t know how to treat them. A rheumatologist would be called for a consultation on a patient with an unknown diagnosis and would often be able to diagnose the patient. I saw rheumatologists really making a difference in the lives of many patients, and knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
Dr. Dennis earned his medical degree at St. Louis University School of Medicine, conducted his residency at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, and received fellowship training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Prior to his current role, he was a medical director in clinical development, inflammatory diseases at MedImmune, director of clinical care and training at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and chief of rheumatology and clinical immunology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
“That lack of awareness about rheumatology that I experienced at the beginning of my career really influenced the direction my career has taken,” continues Dr. Dennis. “My passions are research and the education of physicians. I was lucky to have several mentors who took time with me to help me become a better rheumatologist and teacher. Now, I want to teach others how to be their best. With each career move, my hope is to impact a greater number of individuals with rheumatic diseases.”
With his position at Walter Reed, Dr. Dennis was able to help the military men and women and their families affected by rheumatic diseases. After 21 years of service in the military, he retired to accept a position with the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases that would allow him to play a greater role in educating individuals. After seven years with NIH, he opted to join the pharmaceutical industry. “I really wanted to have a greater influence and be able to impact patients’ day-to-day lives,” says Dr. Dennis.