“I’m thrilled they’ve chosen medicine as a career,” Dr. Robert Spiera says, sounding like his father. “Very few people are privileged like we are to be involved so meaningfully in such an important part of people’s lives.”
Family Practice, International Style
When your dad is Hasan Yazici, MD, a Turkish-born rheumatologist who did some of his training at Creighton University, Omaha, and later became one of the world’s leading experts on Behҫet’s syndrome, it’s unlikely your résumé will be the same. But don’t say that to Yusuf Yazici, MD, who is also a rheumatologist and like his father, Dr. Hasan Yazici, did his residency at Creighton. He is now director of the Seligman Center for Advanced Therapeutics and Behҫet’s Syndrome Center at New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases.
“Of course, having a rheumatologist in the house has an influence on what you do,” says Dr. Yusuf Yazici, who was born in Philadelphia, but grew up and went to school in Turkey. “The main point is that it allows [you to do] many different things. … In the U.S., if you’re in private practice, you can do some research, some teaching. You can do clinical trials and be involved in many different areas. Rheumatology is one of the few specialties that allows you to do many different things, which keeps your daily work interesting. And I saw my father do similar things. He didn’t see patients all the time. He saw patients; he did research; he taught.”
By the time Dr. Yusuf Yazici was doing his fellowship at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York in the late 1990s, Behҫet’s patients were reaching out to him.
“I started getting calls from patients who said they were diagnosed with Behҫet’s, and they would say there was a Dr. Yazici who worked on Behҫet’s. And was I the same person?” Dr. Yusuf Yazici recalls. “I said, I was his son, and they said, ‘Close enough, we’ll come see you.’”
The Turkish father and son became a global pipeline for patients of a disease named for a Turkish dermatologist. Dr. Hasan Yazici was the chair of the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Istanbul from 1978–2012. Every Monday, he still goes to the campus to meet with the fellows he’s trained and talk with patients.
In 2010, the duo co-authored a textbook, Behҫet’s Syndrome. In 2014, they co-wrote, with a third author, a book named Understanding Evidence-Based Rheumatology.