Begin a conversation with Theodore Pincus, MD, about his scientific career, and you’ll soon be discussing a range of topics, from the history of rheumatology to Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. “The thing about Ted is that he is an effervescent person,” says Halsted R. Holman, MD, who was chair of medicine at Stanford University’s School of Medicine when Dr. Pincus became an internal medicine resident in the early 1970s and is now the emeritus Guggenhime Professor of Medicine there. “He has great enthusiasm about whatever he’s into.”
You Might Also Like
Explore This IssueJuly 2007
Also By This Author
Dr. Pincus’ far-reaching intellectual curiosity has taken him down many paths in his 40-plus years in medical science. He is currently a professor of both medicine and microbiology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., reflecting his decades-long interests in both basic science and clinical medicine. He is well known among his rheumatology colleagues for his discovery of the association of education with outcomes in RA, and known worldwide for his tireless advocacy for the value of a patient self-report questionnaire such as the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) in assessing and documenting patient status, course, and outcomes.
“If you look at the movement to evaluate outcomes of management in chronic disease, Ted was in on the beginning of it,” says Dr. Holman. “And, if he wasn’t the first one, he was clearly the most effective in showing the relationship of patients’ education to outcome.”
Frederick Wolfe, MD, director of the National Data Bank for Rheumatic Diseases in Wichita, Kan., and a long-time collaborator with Dr. Pincus, agrees. “He has certainly been the most important proponent for the use of self-report questionnaires in clinical practice.”
How did Dr. Pincus become, as he calls it, “a disciple of the HAQ”? The story does not unfold in a straight trajectory. But then, neither did his career path.
[Dr. Pincus] has certainly been the most important proponent for the use of self- report questionnaires in clinical practice.
From Surgery to Immunology
From his days as an undergraduate at Columbia University in New York City, Dr. Pincus had been interested in analyzing the nature of antibodies involved in immune complex disease. One mentor, Charles Christian, MD, then the head of rheumatology at Columbia, had employed him in his laboratory while he was an undergraduate student.