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Gerald Weissmann (1930–2019), former President of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), was at the forefront of a generation of rheumatologists/scientists who transformed the study of the rheumatic diseases from a largely descriptive effort to a hypothesis-driven scientific endeavour. Born in Vienna, his family left Austria in 1938, during the rise of Nazism in Europe, and settled in New York City, where his father resumed his practice of medicine. Through his remarkable scientific career, Gerry Weissmann carved an indelible mark on the field of rheumatology serving as chief of the Division of NYU’s Langone Medical Center (1973–2000), training scores of physicians and scientists. To all, he was an exemplar of scientific rigour and unbounded enthusiasm for scholarship, whose legacy continues to influence numerous disciples throughout the world. For all of these attributes, Gerald Weissmann is an academic ‘hero’.
Over his 50-year scientific career students, clinicians and scientists sought out Dr Weissmann as a mentor. With his scientific rigour, creativity and, on occasion, acerbic wit, Dr Weissmann introduced a generation of students to the practice of experimental science. He was an inspiration to many aspiring rheumatologists; the excitement of his scientific approach and the changes and developments in the clinic attracted a large number of able trainees. He influenced both at bench and bedside, the latter enforcing on medical rounds the relevance of ear cartilage resilience to general health. Many of us fondly recall Dr Weissmann’s trademark purple magic marker which repeatedly circled all the nouns we mistakenly used as adjectives. Surely as his mentees we will always be indebted …
Handling editor Josef S Smolen
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
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