A leading force in Rheumatology for over 50 years. 

The UW Division of Rheumatology, originally known as the Division of Arthritis, was established in 1958 under the leadership of John L. Decker and consisted of only 2 Faculty members. After Dr. Decker’s departure to become Director of Rheumatic Disease at the NationaI Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD, Dr. Mart Mannik was recruited from the Rockefeller University to become the new Division Head in 1967. He served in this role until his retirement in 2001. Under Dr. Mannik’s Leadership the Division Faculty grew from 2 to 12 members and Rheumatology sites were established at the major teaching hospitals of the University of Washington. These sites include the UW Medical Center (UWMC), Harborview Medical Center (HMC) and the Veterans Administration Puget Sound Health Care System (VAPSHCS). In 2001, Dr. Keith Elkon was recruited from the Hospital for Special Surgery, Weil Medical College of Cornell University to serve as Division Head. 

Achievements of the Division 

  • Major insights into the biochemistry and pathophysiology of immune complexes in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
  • Inversion of the RA treatment pyramid with early induction and step-down therapy
  • Discovery of the high prevalence of RA among Native Americans and association with DR4
  • Identifying the role for microchimerism in initiating the pathogenic mechanisms of scleroderma
  • Biochemical dissection of Interferon pathways and innate immune cell processing
  • Insight into the role of apoptotic cells in the immune response to self antigens
  • Discovery of anti-C1q autoantibodies and association with lupus nephritis
  • Co-discovery of the PTPN22 risk allele in altered immune tolerance
  • Creation of novel therapies in clinical and preclinical studies

The Division Today 

Today the Division of Rheumatology has 23 Faculty members and will be expanding further with the UW acquisition of Northwest Hospital. The Fellowship program is nationally recognized as one of the longest NIH funded programs in the country and strives to offer exceptional training to future rheumatologists. The research training program in Rheumatology has trained over 120 rheumatologists since its inception. Many former trainees have considerable accomplishments in the Rheumatology community, including several who have become Division Heads at other academic medical centers.