Right now, the Rheumatology Research Foundation is in the midst of unprecedented growth. At the same time, its role within the rheumatology community is becoming even more important. Many people see rheumatology as a collection of groups, from academic to practicing rheumatologists to health professionals; however, I prefer to see it as a unified discipline. I believe the Foundation is helping cement together the many groups that make up the field of rheumatology.
Although serving as president of the Foundation will be a new experience for me, I have been involved in the organization for nearly 10 years. During that time, it has become evident to me how the Foundation serves and connects rheumatology trainees, community rheumatologists, academic rheumatologists, and health professionals. The organization is working to improve the health of people affected by rheumatic disease, a goal echoed throughout the field, and it is doing so by investing in all aspects of the rheumatology “career ladder.” The Foundation offers awards that recruit students and residents to the field through firsthand experience, as well as encouraging ACR members to become clinical or research mentors. The Foundation also provides funding for novel research that could lead to important breakthroughs to help clinicians better treat their patients, while also helping young investigators get the experience they need to build established careers. Lastly, it is the organization that both fellows and health professionals can turn to for support in their training.
During my term, I will push the organization toward expanding its support for the rheumatology community in new, effective, and efficient ways. A panel recently reviewed all of the awards and grants offered by the Foundation that focus on recruitment, education, training, and career development. The panel then created a list of recommendations to enhance the program and ensure it serves the most important needs. I will work to make that vision a reality. The Foundation will also be undergoing a similar review of its disease-targeted research program.
It is a privilege to be part of the process shaping the future of the Foundation’s programs and its role within rheumatology.
This is an exciting time to be part of the field and the Foundation. I believe the Foundation will exceed all recommendations that have been and will be put forth while building on the past successes in both rheumatology and the organization. And through that work, the Foundation will connect and strengthen our specialty.