Any builder will tell you that strength lies in the crosspieces, where framework or walls intersect. This issue of LEAP celebrates intersections: between clinicians and biological scientists, between both of those groups and information scientists, between specialists of different disciplines.
The more we know about rheumatic diseases, the more complex we realize they are. To treat the patients in our clinics and our Precision Medicine Centers of Excellence (see page 6), our rheumatologists bring together Johns Hopkins experts from specialties including cardiology, pulmonology, nephrology, gynecology, ophthalmology, and pathology: people looking at the same problem with different eyes, each contributing wisdom to create a much richer understanding of the disease process. As medicine evolves, multidisciplinary care is becoming a critical component of patient-centered care.
Our patients are also our partners in care: in all of our clinics, we rely on what we call “patient-reported outcomes” – detailed information from our patients about how they are doing and what they hope to be able to do. Our patients are telling us what’s valuable to them in a more focused and personalized way – which they can’t always do during a busy office visit.
This brings us to the theme of our issue: the Wisdom of the Crowd (see page 2). The key to solving the mysteries of rheumatic diseases is seeing patterns – recognizing which patients have similar disease features, learning to see warning signs before they happen, being able to predict and, we hope, improve the course of someone’s illness. Individually, our ability to see some patterns is limited; our experience is limited. The patterns that we are drawn to are very specific; we can’t see the entire, infinite world of potential patterns. No one could. By our nature, we’re each drawn to particular things – just as, if we went to an art museum, some of us would be attracted to certain paintings or sculptures, and others would connect with completely different ones.
But we now have tools – sophisticated computers, and highly complicated, math-driven programs and algorithms devised by data scientists and biostatisticians, including Scott Zeger – that allow us to gather information, analyze it, and find new disease patterns in ways that we never could have before. This is a new moment in medicine, and it requires us to appreciate each member of the team – especially our patients! – for the perspective and wisdom they bring to the picture.
Also in this issue, we’re pleased to highlight four young clinician-scientists (see page 11) who have seamlessly bridged the gap from fellowship to junior faculty, through innovative research, the mentorship of our faculty, and also through private funding. And finally (page 16), we remember Nadia Morgan, a young faculty member whose life and promising career were cut short. She is very greatly missed.
Antony Rosen, M.D.
Director, Division of Rheumatology
Vice Dean for Research