It’s a position that could affect millions of Americans.
With that as his backdrop, Rowland Chang, MD, MPH, director of the Institute for Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM), announced the creation of the Chang-Lee Family Professorship in Preventive Rheumatology. Revealed at the end of a daylong symposium on Friday, July 26, held in support of the emerging field, the endowed professorship represents a ripple that Chang hopes will become a wave of change in the way rheumatologic-related illness is approached.
“Arthritis is common – there are at least 50 million Americans who suffer from some form; it is costly – more than $128 billion is spent on care each year; and it is disabling – the most common cause of activity limitation and disability in the nation,” said Chang, senior associate dean for public health, professor in preventive medicine, medicine-rheumatology and physical medicine and rehabilitation. “While treatments have improved dramatically, we have no means to slow or stop the disease processes for the overwhelming majority of people. Thus, prevention needs to be part of an overall strategy to reduce the future burden.”
Sponsored by IPHAM, the preventive rheumatology symposium and poster session featured presentations on the prevention of knee osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and gout.
“The talented group of scientists we brought in from around the nation has been instrumental in researching these important forms of arthritis.” Chang said. “By having these discussions and learning more about the causes of rheumatologic-related illness, we hope to create the roadmap for intervention.”
Each of the four panel presentations was followed by a question-and-answer session. The symposium ended with the screening of a recorded interview with Jeremiah Stamler, MD, professor emeritus and founding chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine. His talk highlighted how the field of preventive rheumatology mirrors many aspects of preventive cardiology, which evolved during a time when many thought that coronary heart disease was an inevitable result of aging.
“It was nice to hear Dr. Stamler’s remarks and the symposium provided a great opportunity for a flow of ideas that will be paradigm-shifting in rheumatology,” said Leena Sharma MD, Solovy/Arthritis Research Society Research Professor. “The sessions and discussion illustrated the power of this novel way to think about how we face rheumatic diseases and try to alleviate their massive impact.”
The symposium and poster session were hosted with the generous support of the Chang and Lee families. The recipient of the new endowed professorship is expected to be named by the end of the academic year, with a start date of summer or fall 2014.