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About the Division of Rheumatology

From its inception the Division of Rheumatology has been an integral support in the Department of Medicine in our triple mission of patient care, teaching and scholarly research.

The Division of Rheumatology provides care for patients with the full spectrum of rheumatic and autoimmune diseases. These include arthritis and allied conditions and disorders of connective tissue. The Arthritis Center is a significant outpatient facility with more than 6,000 patient visits annually. Each year, the consultation service sees approximately 400 inpatients.

Since the inception of the fellowship program in 1976 by John Skokey, MD, PhD, at the University of Illinois there have been an estimated 56 fellows to have completed their fellowship. In addition to the program at University of Illinois, fellows participate in clinical activities at the Jessie Brown V.A., and outpatient consult service at both locations. The goal of the fellowship is to produce Rheumatologists eligible for ABIM Certification in Rheumatology, no other certificates are offered.

Our research faculty focus on molecular pathogenesis of fibrosis, recognition of immunological self from non-self on the basis of autoimmunity, mechanics of inflammation, and novel biologic therapies for Raynaud, immunological and rheumatic diseases. Additional active research programs examine genetic basic of scleroderma, and the long-term outcomes, epidemiology, risk factors and economic burden of chronic arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.

History Heading link

Over the past 50 years, University of Illinois has been a leader in the development of Rheumatology as a specialty. The modern Division of Rheumatology started in 1978 when Dr. John Skosey came from the University of Chicago and established the rheumatology clinic and fellowship program at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and the Hospital. In 1994, he was succeeded by Dr. John Varga who is a giant in the field of scleroderma research. The division thrived with a rich collaboration with Dr. Marius Teodorescu, a world renowned immunologist. From 2004 to the time of his retirement in June 2018, Dr. William Swedler led the Division. Dr. Swedler has been a clinician par excellence and has trained great many practicing rheumatologists throughout the country.