Over the past 20 years, Eric L. Matteson, MD, MPH, emeritus chair, Division of Rheumatology, and emeritus professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, Rochester, Minn., as well as a past president of the Rheumatology Research Foundation, has authored or co-authored six books about the history of rheumatic disease and rheumatologists.
“I learned that it’s often difficult to get all the facts right,” says Dr. Matteson. “There are a lot of dead ends [when] pursuing historical threads, [and] references to historical circumstances published by others are mostly right, but can also lead you astray.”
Academic & Career Background
While studying in Germany his junior year of college, Dr. Matteson met his future wife, Herta, who convinced him to apply to medical school there. He obtained his medical degree in 1982 from Friedrich-Alexander University, Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany.
Dr. Matteson completed his residency in internal medicine at Southwestern Michigan Area Health Education Center, Kalamazoo (now Western Michigan University Medical and Health Sciences Center), in 1986. In 1988 and 1989, he completed rheumatology fellowships at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minn. In 1990, he earned an MPH from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
During this time, he also practiced as an internist, specializing in rheumatology, in the U.S. Army Reserve as a major, serving in the Medical Corps between 1993 and 2001.
In 1990, Dr. Matteson started a career at the Mayo Clinic as a clinician, researcher in epidemiology and developer of a clinical trials program. Through the years, he was promoted to professor of medicine and chaired the Division of Rheumatology before retiring from clinical practice in 2018.
Following his retirement, for nine months between 2018 and 2019, Dr. Matteson practiced rheumatology in Christchurch and Auckland, New Zealand.
Dr. Matteson and his wife are also avid bird watchers and teach bird biology to children visiting a nature center or attending summer camp near their home.