Surrounded by his immediate family, Luis R. Espinoza, MD, died on March 29 after a prolonged illness. Luis (Lucho, as many of his close colleagues called him) was a dedicated mentor, distinguished researcher and role model to rheumatologists worldwide.
A native of Pisco, Perú, Luis graduated from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in 1968. He then migrated to the U.S. where he completed his internship at Jersey City Medical Center and his training in internal medicine and rheumatology at Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Mo., and McGill University Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Canada. After completing a post-doctoral fellowship at Rockefeller University, New York City, he returned to McGill for his first faculty position.
Luis was recruited to be an associate professor in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of South Florida School of Medicine in 1975. In 1990, he became professor and director of the Section of Rheumatology at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans, a position he held until his untimely death.
In the days and the morning prior to his death, Luis was still taking calls from concerned patients, despite circumstances that would have crippled most. This reflects his dedication to his patients, who infused him with energy.
We (the authors) were fortunate to first work alongside him when we were a part of the American Board of Internal Medicine’s Rheumatology Specialty Board. His area of research on reactive arthritis was already well established. We’ll always remember his warnings about eating oysters and risking Vibrio parahaemolyticus diarrhea and potential reactive arthritis. (We still eat oysters, despite his warning.) This anecdote highlights his great sense of humor—subtle, and always with a message.
Luis dedicated tremendous energy to the Pan American League of Associations of Rheumatology (PANLAR). He was treasurer, secretary general and president of PANLAR between 2006 and 2010, Master of PANLAR in 2008, and president of the organizing committee for the upcoming PANLAR 2020 meeting.
Our next connection with him was when he called one of us (JVF) one evening to convince her to assume the role of PANLAR treasurer. The next four years were a rewarding experience for her, and she really appreciated his guidance during this volunteer commitment.
In the case of GSA, Luis asked her in the early 2000s to be in charge of the PANLAR Prize Selection Committee, which she agreed to do for a limited time; however, she remains on this temporary task to this day.