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The road to the top, whether it is a mountain or a profession, is often a difficult journey of twists and turns. And that is true for John D. Reveille, MD, Director of the Frank C. Arnett, MD, Center for Autoimmunity and Immunobiology at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, Director of the Division of Rheumatology, and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Internal Medicine. Reveille is also the Linda and Ronny Finger Foundation Distinguished Chair in Neuroimmunologic Disorders and the George S. Bruce Jr. Professor in Arthritis & Other Rheumatic Diseases.
Reveille's road to joining UTHealth in 1987 started in Miami and took him to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for his medical degree and a fellowship, with a stop in the middle for residency at The University of Miami Affiliated Hospitals.
Reveille's grandmother was one of two major influences in both his life and his decision to become a doctor. The other was Frank C. Arnett, MD, Professor Emeritus of Internal Medicine/Rheumatology and Pathology and former Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at McGovern Medical School. Arnett was Reveille's mentor at Johns Hopkins.
"He recruited me to UTHealth and presented the academic career as a quest. That has been my guiding principle ever since," he told an audience after receiving a President's Scholar Award in 2016, UTHealth's highest award for research and teaching.
Arnett also sparked Reveille's interest in research. "It's such a high to know that you either have led an effort or been part of an effort that's going to change everything," Reveille says.
Reveille's latest "high" is the result of finding that nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory drugs, such as Celebre®, in combination with tumor necrosis factor blockers dramatically slows the progression of ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammation arthritis that primarily affects the spine and can cause some vertebrae to fuse, leading to severe, chronic pain and discomfort. According to Reveille, this finding will "dramatically change the practice of rheumatology for these patients."
When asked about how he thinks history will remember him, Reveille quickly explains that he is not interested in whether others will associate his name with his research or his philanthropy. "My name will disappear when I die, and that's fine. But I know that when I die, my life made a vast difference to others."
Reveille says he wants to do all he can to ensure the rheumatology division continues to grow and thrive far into the future. Research made the division great, but funding from the National Institutes of Health is not consistent, he says. That is why he wants to see more community and corporate partners like the Linda and Ronny Finger Foundation, which endowed the distinguished chair Reveille holds, "to keep things moving forward, regardless of the NIH situation."
And that underscores Reveille's philosophy on philanthropy: it should build on success and be a testimony to the dedication of those who made that success possible. Toward that end, he has made a significant commitment to UTHealth through his estate and has been faithful in his support for the Noranna B. Warner Endowed Chair in the Division of Rheumatology.
"Her nickname was Mother to all the fellows, and she was just that," Reveille remembers. "She worked very, very hard to bring the clinical effort of this division forward. Despite his amazing clinical skills, Dr. Arnett was more focused on research-and together they established this division. My job is to keep the clinical and research arenas growing to new heights together.
"I think our program is very respected in the city," says Reveille. "I will certainly use my remaining time here to advance further the clinical and research missions of the Division of Rheumatology."