Compared to other divisions in our department, the Division of Rheumatology is relatively young in age. Although the division was not established until the late 1960s, Mount Sinai physicians had been making many contributions to the field since the beginning of the century.
The momentous contributions by Mount Sinai faculty include:
- Establishment of the first orthopaedic outpatient clinic (Dr. Philip Nathan, early 1900s)
- First descriptions of characteristic heart lesions that may occur in patients with lupus erythematosus (Drs. Emmanuel Libman and Benjamin Sacks, 1924)
- Recognition of the exacerbating effects of sun exposure and "wire loop" kidney lesions in patients with lupus (Dr. George Baehr, 1935)
- Original studies in the pathogenesis of tissue lesions induced by endotoxin and immune complexes (Dr. Gregory Schwartzman, 1937)
- Introduction of the term "diffuse collagen disease", first used by a Mount Sinai pathologist (Dr. Paul Klemperer, 1942) as a critical element in scleroderma, lupus, and related disorders
- Establishment of the first gout clinic in the United States (Dr. Alexander Gutman, with Dr. Tsai-Fan Yu, Emeritus Professor in the division, early 1950s)
- First descriptions of allergic granulomatosis, now generally known as Churg-Strauss syndrome (Drs. Jacob Churg and Lotte Strauss, 1951)
- Development and standardization of the latex test for rheumatoid arthritis (Drs. Jacques Singer with Dr. Charles Plotz, 1956)
- Clinical effectiveness of probenecid in lowering the serum urate and diminishing the size of tophi was established (1951)
- Effectiveness of daily colchicine prophylaxis against recurrent attacks of acute gout, documented (Drs. Yu and Gutman, 1961) and subsequently corroborated by Dr. Yu in follow-up studies that extended for over 30 subsequent years.
With the passage of the Omnibus Medical Research Act of 1950, the field began to explode, authorizing the establishment of the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Disease. This opened doors for the division, and in the 1970s, our training program blossomed. Harry Spiera, MD, established the Rheumatology Training Program and helped develop Mount Sinai as a major referral center for disorders such as giant cell arteritis, scleroderma and Sjogren's syndrome. Clinical and laboratory research flourished under his leadership, and it has continued to do so since the training program’s inception.
The division’s remarkable history has led to much advancement in the field, enabling us to treat patients suffering from the full range of rheumatic disease and related disorders. These include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, osteoarthritis, Raynaud’s disease, other connective tissue disorders, crystal deposition diseases such as gout and pseudogout, complications from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), chronic renal failure, and diabetes. Mount Sinai is one of only four major referral centers for amyloid diseases in the United States. It is a Center of Excellence for the diagnosis and treatment of amyloid diseases, autoinflammatory syndromes, and cryopathies.