Dr. Gravallese joined the Harvard Medical School faculty as an instructor, and by 2003 she was an associate professor of medicine. The work in her laboratory continued apace. Seminal work published in 1998 was the first milestone in understanding the structural damage that occurs in RA. Her initial observation, in collaboration with Steven Goldring, showed definitively the presence of osteoclasts at the pannus-bone interface in joints of RA patients.2 A follow-on study from her group showed the critical link between receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-Β ligand (RANKL), osteoclastogenesis and bone erosion by inducing inflammatory arthritis in RANKL knockout mice, and demonstrating the mice were protected from articular bone loss.3
Since 2006 Dr. Gravallese has been a professor of medicine at UMass, attaining tenure in 2012. The following year she was named the Myles J. McDonough Chair in Rheumatology. In her laboratory, she has continued to focus on mechanisms of bone erosion and inhibition of bone repair.4 Her recently published clinical trial in RA, done in collaboration with Dan Solomon and Jonathan Kay, assessed the efficacy of intermittent parathyroid hormone therapy to promote healing of articular erosions.5 Current work in her laboratory seeks to understand the innate immune mechanisms that contribute to the onset, progression, persistence and regulation of systemic autoimmune disease.6
Dr. Gravallese’s myriad accomplishments include national and international visiting professorships, service on the Boards of Directors of the ACR and the Bone and Joint Decade, among other organizations, and an active role in administration and training of fellows at Harvard and UMass. She was elected to the Henry Kunkel Society, and in 2017, the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research honored her with the Stephen Krane Award for her research. The Arthritis Foundation has also honored Dr. Gravallese with the Marian Ropes Physician Achievement Award.