“I think the fact that there aren’t silos here at UAB has been a tremendous asset,” agrees Jeffrey R. Curtis, MD, MS, MPH, the William J. Koopman Endowed Professor in Rheumatology and Immunology, who actively collaborates with many people in the School of Public Health and other Department of Medicine divisions. Dr. Curtis also directs the UAB Arthritis Clinical Intervention Program formed by Dr. Koopman. “It is UAB’s great strength to be able to work in a collaborative environment across disciplines,” he says. “Individual people, such as Dr. Koopman, have fostered that.”
You Might Also Like
Explore This IssueJune 2016
Also By This Author
The 36 faculty members, six pediatric rheumatology faculty and six emeritus faculty members represent an impressive depth of knowledge. With five endowed chairs and two endowed professorships, vigorous multicenter research programs supported by more than $14 million in total research funding in the current fiscal year and a vibrant fellowship program, the UAB Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology has, through strong leadership and nurturance of talent, attained national prominence.
A Heritage of Strong Leadership
In 1945, the Medical College of Alabama moved from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham, and the university’s medical center was founded. In the 1950s, as part of a rapid period of growth initiated by the renowned cardiologist and internist Tinsley R. Harrison, MD, Howard L. Holley, MD, was tapped to establish a Division of Rheumatology within the Department of Medicine. Early on, Dr. Holley encouraged formation of a clinical training program, which included PhD faculty members focusing on the physicochemical properties of the rheumatoid factor. He recognized the importance of disentangling the etiology of this disease, which affected him personally (he had RA).
Laboratory-based research surged when Markle Scholar J. Claude Bennett, MD, who had joined the faculty in 1966, became director of the newly named Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology. The succession of leaders after Dr. Bennett—
Drs. Koopman, Ball, Kimberly and Carter—solidified UAB’s standing as a premier site for not only clinical outcomes research, but also investigation of the pathogenesis of the rheumatic diseases, especially SLE.
The history of the division, says Division Director S. Louis Bridges Jr., MD, PhD, professor of medicine and the Anna Lois Walters Endowed Chair, reveals the advances made by each of the division’s leaders. Interviews with our sources underline the consistent thread of collegiality for which the division is also renowned.