Q: As a young investigator, what is the value of a good mentor?
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Explore This IssueDecember 2013
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A: They teach you a whole hell of a lot. They teach you how to think. They teach you how to write. And then they keep helping you, even when you are no longer in their lab.
Q: What does this award mean to you?
A: It’s an incredible honor. It’s so nice to be recognized by my colleagues in this way. It’s the first award I have received of its kind, so it’s really quite special.
ACR Excellence in Investigative Mentoring Award
Kenneth Saag, MD, MSc
Jane Knight Lowe Professor of Medicine, Division of Immunology and Rheumatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB); Director, Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics of Musculoskeletal Disorders, Center of Research Translation in Gout and Hyperuricemia, and Center for Outcomes Effectiveness Research and Education
Background: A Chicago native, Dr. Saag earned his medical degree and did his residency at Northwestern University’s Evanston Hospital. He followed that up with his rheumatology fellowship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in 1993 and joined UAB in 1998. His research focuses on the epidemiology of osteoporosis and gout, new methods for designing clinical trials in rheumatic disease, and testing methods for translating evidence into practice. Many of his studies “focus on understanding the comparative effectiveness and safety of drugs and biologics,” he says. The chair of the ACR’s Quality of Care Committee the past four years, he was recently elected to ACR’s board of directors. He is also a board member of the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the Gout and Uric Acid Society, and sits on the Advocacy Committee of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research. He’s published more than 220 peer-reviewed articles and recently authored the first edition of the clinical handbook Diagnosis and Management of Osteoporosis.
Q: What did you learn most from your mentors?
A: The need to prioritize mentees’ projects and to get protected time for junior investigators. This ensures an institutional commitment to their research, and allows them to cultivate ideas with lots of one-on-one interactions, including serial review of grants and reports, and the ability to receive feedback from investigators in multiple disciplines.
Q: How gratifying is it to see your mentees succeed?
A: It’s right up there with success of your kids. It’s really exceptionally satisfying to see the accomplishments of some of the people I have played a role in helping mentor.