Routes to Rheumatology
As a medical student at Columbia, Dr. Gravallese developed a fascination with rheumatic diseases. Much of that fascination was thanks to Gary Hoffman, MD, her mentor during a rotation at Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital. Dr. Hoffman made major contributions to the field of vasculitis after joining the Vasculitis and Related Diseases Section at the National Institutes of Health, and is currently professor emeritus at the Center for Vasculitis Care and Research at the Cleveland Clinic.
Dr. Gravallese then began her internship in internal medicine at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. She had thought ultimately to combine anatomic pathology with basic science research, but patient contact in medicine, she realized, supplied a critical missing link. Her Pathology Department chair, the late Ramzi S. Cotran, PhD, the F.B. Mallory Professor of Pathology at Harvard, suggested a solution for combining her dual career interests. Renowned not just as a molecular scientist but also as an intuitive mentor, Dr. Cotran developed a joint residency in pathology and medicine for her, and at the end of that residency she became a diplomate in both specialties.
Interestingly, her course of study in pathology linked her with Chief of Surgical Pathology Joseph Corson, MD, who for 30 years had collected autopsy specimens from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). “In my spare time I went through all those autopsy slides,” she recalls. This resulted in her identification of rheumatoid aortitis as a clinically significant entity. This work was done in collaboration with another important mentor and close colleague in rheumatology, former ACR President Michael Weinblatt, MD.1