Years ago, 16-year-old Bryce Binstadt, now a pediatric rheumatologist at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, was waterskiing with friends on Potato Lake in Minnesota, where his family frequently vacationed. Dr. Binstadt had been an avid water-skier since he was 8 years old and had become very skilled at the sport—even skiing backward. This day, the unexpected happened.
As he was leaning over to glide into a turn, something he had done hundreds of times in the past, he suddenly felt the right side of his body bounce off the surface of the water. Once, twice, three times. After a few seconds, he realized the ski rope he was still holding that connected him to the boat had snapped, forcing his body to skip across the lake like a stone instead of pulling him back into an upright position.
Other than a few bruises, he escaped serious injury. Still, that intimidating experience was not enough for him to abandon the sport he loved. Every summer, you can find Dr. Binstadt on different lakes in Minnesota and Michigan, participating in a sport he calls “exhilarating.”
Back in 1999, Dr. Binstadt earned two advanced degrees: an MD from the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine and a PhD in immunology from the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, both in Rochester, Minn. His research focused on natural killer cells and the molecular biology of how they get activated.
As he learned more about the body’s immune system, he became interested in autoimmune diseases. But it wasn’t until his fourth year of medical school during a rotation in pediatric rheumatology that he really solidified his decision to become a pediatric rheumatologist.
During the next three years, he completed a combined residency program at Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center. From 2002 to 2005, he moved on to the next step in his career by completing a pediatric rheumatology fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital.
“When I was a college sophomore, junior and senior, I became interested in immunology through summer research experiences,” says Dr. Binstadt, who accepted a position at the University of Minnesota (UMN) in 2007 as an assistant professor of pediatrics and is now a distinguished university teaching professor in the Division of Rheumatology in the Department of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine.