With sadness we honor the passing of Morris Reichlin, MD. Dr. “Moe” Reichlin enjoyed a distinguished clinical, investigative, rheumatology career that spanned more than five decades. Moe was inquisitive, persistent, humble and inspiring. His achievements were many and diverse.
Moe Reichlin received his BA and MD degrees from Washington University in St. Louis, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Omega Alpha. He held faculty positions first at the University of Vermont in Burlington and then at the State University of New York in Buffalo. He joined the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) in 1981 as the founding head of the Arthritis & Clinical Immunology Research Program, as well as the founding chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He later served as the first vice president of research at the OMRF.
Dr. Reichlin received numerous honors and awards throughout his career, including the Distinguished Investigator Award from the ACR, the Evelyn V. Hess Award from the Lupus Foundation of America and the Bunim Medal from the American Rheumatism Association. He was named a Master of the ACR in 1999. He lectured on five continents, mentored more than 100 aspiring scientists, published nearly 500 papers and served on numerous editorial and advisory boards.
Moe developed heteroantibodies that distinguished single amino acid differences in protein antigens and described their kinetics and binding properties. He identified many autoantibodies in myositis and soluble nucleoproteins in autoimmune rheumatic disease patient sera. He discovered and characterized the anti-Ro (SSA)/La (SSB) autoantibody systems and established their clinical relevance to systemic lupus erythematosus, subacute cutaneous lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome and congenital heart block.
Extending these studies, Moe and his staff served as an autoantibody testing laboratory not only for tens of thousands of patients to aid their diagnosis and prognosis, but also to support hundreds of research studies that relied on the scientific infrastructure he organized and generously made available to colleagues around the world. To honor Dr. Reichlin’s dedication to his patients, his love for research and medicine, and his inspiring leadership, OMRF established the Morris Reichlin, MD, Clinical Immunology Laboratory.
Moe was a quite a character. He was forced by the dean to stop playing poker and winning so much money from his similarly reprobate undergraduate classmates. He smoked cigarettes until the day the Surgeon General’s report was released in 1964, upon which moment he stopped “cold turkey” and never smoked another cigarette. This did not reduce the subsequent enjoyment, however, of the occasional cigar. He was an avid tennis player, and a strong supporter of the community wine club and of the ballet and symphony. Moe enjoyed life and his work, setting an example that he encouraged all around him to follow.