A: My patients are incredibly inspiring, with how they deal with their illnesses. What is fantastic today, particularly with regard to RA, is that unlike when I started years ago, we now have drug treatment approaches that put 80% of patients into low-disease activity and allow them to function normally.
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Explore This IssueDecember 2017
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Q: What has the ACR meant to you and your career?
A: It has been one of the great joys I have had in academic medicine to work for an organization that has a truly outstanding staff and a spectacular executive vice president in Mark Andrejeski. My wife and I have met terrific colleagues around the world. We are still a small specialty, and I think rheumatologists are unique. The ACR provides us that format to interact and move forward with priorities of patient care and research.
ACR Distinguished Clinical Investigator
Murray Urowitz, MD
Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto; Director, Centre for Prognosis Studies in Rheumatic Diseases
Background: Drawn to rheumatology because of its “broad spectrum of clinical presentations,” Dr. Urowitz established the UT Lupus Clinic and Lupus Databank Research Program in 1970. The longitudinal database has since catalogued nearly 2,000 patients.
“I first made a commitment to collect the data required. Now, I spend my time studying [these] data,” he explains. “I see changes both in the clinical and the immunological features of the disease. It’s extremely exciting. When I get a new idea, I can go and say, ‘let’s see what the database shows me.’ It often starts me on a whole new line of investigation.”
His research findings include the description of the bimodal pattern of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) mortality, improved mortality, pregnancy course and outcome in SLE, and identification of early atherosclerosis in SLE.
Knowledge of “the mechanism of how the disease is caused and how this immune system goes awry is evolving at a phenomenal rate now,” he explains. “What’s known about the immune system now wasn’t even thought of not too many years ago. Watching the changing pattern in the clinical presentation, and the evolving knowledge and the basic science that goes along with it, keeps me excited as hell, all of the time.”
Dr. Urowitz is a past president of the Lupus Council and sat on the ACR Ad Hoc Committee on SLE Guidelines. In 2016, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for his commitment to the field by Lupus Ontario, for which he was a founding member.