But Dr. Gourh received his medical degree from Maharaja Sayajirao University in India, and came to the U.S. in 2000 to pursue a Master’s degree at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. In 2004, he joined the rheumatology division at the University of Texas at Houston; there he developed an interest in the genetics of scleroderma while working with Drs. Frank Arnett and Maureen Mayes. Using a candidate gene approach, he was the first to report PTPN22, TBX21, TNFSF4, BANK1, BLK gene associations with scleroderma.
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“Rheumatology is one of the most cerebral specialties in internal medicine,” he says. “Rheumatologic diseases truly affect the whole body and, at times, can mimic other diseases, making rheumatologists the Sherlock Holmes amongst doctors.”
He joined NIAMS as a clinical rheumatology fellow in 2012 and Dr. Daniel Kastner’s lab at NHGRI, where he is coordinating the largest genetic study in African-American scleroderma patients using such cutting-edge genetic technologies as whole exome sequencing and array-based genome-wide genotyping. In 2014, he was appointed a NIAMS scholar.
Dr. Gourh joined the ACR in 2005 and currently serves on the Fellows in Training and Annual Meeting Planning Committees. He previously was a member of the ACR Research Committee, and was awarded the Rheumatology Research Foundation Scientist Development Award in 2015.
Q: What advice do you have for the next generation of rheumatologists?
A: Figure out what you are passionate about, find the right mentor, and never give up.
Q: What is the most fulfilling part of your job?
A: At NIH, I can see a patient, ask a question, enroll a patient on a protocol, collect samples, conduct experiments, analyze data, and use results to better provide care for the patients. In essence, being able to implement translational research into clinical medicine.
Q: What does this award mean to you?
A: I am very fortunate to be able to work with some of the best minds in rheumatology, and this award is a reflection on all of them. An award like this is very humbling but also reassuring that I am on the right track.
Q: What are the most impactful changes to the field you have witnessed in your career?
A: Advancement in genomics has played a big role in rheumatologic diseases, especially in the arena of auto-inflammatory diseases, where technology has been utilized to identify and name new diseases. From a clinical perspective, the ACR’s “Within our Reach” campaign has made a tremendous impact in RA patients, with improvement in disease symptoms, outcomes and survival.