Many excellent Internists promulgated the growing field of rheumatology at the University of Illinois Hospital in the last 50 years. The modern divison of Rheumatology started in 1978 when Dr. John Skosey came from the University of Chicago and established the rheumatology clinic and fellowship at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and the Hospital. In 1994, he was succeeded by Dr. John Varga who was and is a giant in the field of scleroderma research. The division thrived with a rich collaboration with Dr. Marius Teodorescu, a world renown immunologist. From 2004 to present Dr. William Swedler has been chief of Rheumatology with a strong emphasis on leading a practice of rheumatologists devoted to excellence in autoimmune and musculskeletal diseases.
First professor in the Division
The first professor of Rheumatology at the University of Illinois was John L. Skosey, MD, PhD. He came from the University of Chicago, which in 1978 was one of the leading institutions in the world in the study of gout and other crystal diseases. Dr. Skosey was truly eclectic and emphasized that a rheumatologist has no defining borders. Trained in metabolic diseases at the National Institutes of Health, his laboratory studied the complex interplay of inflammation in the rheumatic diseases. Dr. Skosey’s typical day would start with xray conference, then to clinic exam room and on to educational conference and then directing his laboratory.
The rheumatology fellowship program began under his tutelage and thrived, planting scientists and clinical rheumatologists nationwide. His mantra was the team approach and multidisciplinary meetings between radiologist, orthopedists, dermatologists, nurses, therapists, visiting professors and basic scientists was all part of the normal landscape. True to his innate leadership skills he even went to the State Capitol to help lobby the interests of the University of Illinois during some rocky times.
Dr. Skosey’s fellows remember him warmly with his generosity, his sense of humor and his rigorous devotion to scientific principles. Dr. Skosey is a true scholar and still a leader in the rheumatology community of Chicago. As a Professor of Medicine he was a giant in the College of Medicine, the Department of Medicine and the University of Illinois Hospital.