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A History of the Rosalind Russell/Ephraim P. Engleman Rheumatology Research Center: A Presentation by Dr. Ephraim Engelman
April 24, 2012, Presidio Golden Gate Club

The Rosalind Russell/Ephraim P. Engleman Rheumatology Research Center was created by the U.S. Congress in 1979 to posthumously honor the stage and screen actress who focused national attention on the need for greater resources for scientific studies of this disease and better information for the public. A single Congressional contribution of $800,000 was given to UCSF for this purpose, and Dr. Ephraim Engleman, then serving as the Chief of Rheumatology at UCSF, became founding Director.

Miss Russell made over 50 films between 1934 and 1971, including The Women, His Girl Friday, Auntie Mame and Sister Kenny. When she was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis in 1969, she was stunned to learn how little was known about the causes of the disease and how few treatment options were available.

Despite failing health due to her RA, which effectively ended her acting career, Miss Russell took on arthritis as her personal cause. She accepted a presidential appointment to the National Commission on Arthritis, which resulted in an ambitious national plan that revolutionized patient care, research and teaching related to arthritis.

Her tireless and courageous work on behalf of arthritis patients paved the way for today's flourishing field of arthritis research and for the many advances yet to come. The Rosalind Russell/Ephraim P. Engleman Rheumatology Research Center for Arthritis is an important part of her legacy.

Since 1979, the Center has attracted major financial contributions from private individuals, enabling it to help underwrite numerous research initiatives at UCSF, and provide supplemental support to the faculty and fellows. Dr. Engleman continues to serve as Director along with David Wofsy, MD.

Just 20 years ago, rheumatology waiting rooms were almost always crowded with patients in wheelchairs. Today, thanks to research and the major treatment advances it has made possible, this sight is rare.

Many scientific breakthroughs in the field have been funded by the Rosalind Russell/Ephraim P. Engleman Rheumatology Research Center, the fundraising arm of the UCSF Division of Rheumatology. The Division is a global leader in patient care, research and teaching.

Despite enormous progress, arthritis and related autoimmune diseases remain the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and affect one in four Americans. At the same time, research is moving forward at an unprecedented pace, adding more drugs to the arsenal of treatment options that reduce chronic pain and disability, significantly improve quality of life and, in many cases, extend lifespan.

The Rosalind Russell/Ephraim P. Engleman Rheumatology Research Center is a vital source of support for scientific investigation into the causes and potential cures of arthritis and autoimmune diseases and for training physicians and scientists to be the next generation of leaders in the field of rheumatology.