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Charles L Christian: model physician scientist and mentor
  1. Mary K Crow
  1. Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Mary K Crow, Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, New York 10021, USA; crowm{at}

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Dr Charles L Christian arrived in New York City in 1953, having grown up in Wichita, Kansas, and graduating from medical school at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio. In New York, Dr Christian embarked on training in internal medicine at Columbia’s Presbyterian Hospital where he met an individual who would shape the course of his career, Dr Charles Ragan, a founder of the Arthritis Foundation. Dr Christian, or Chuck as he was usually called, went on to shape the developing field of rheumatology, advancing understanding of our most complex diseases as an investigator, master clinician, mentor and academic leader. During an era when the cellular and humoral features of the immune system were just coming into focus, Chuck performed laboratory experiments with precision and creativity to achieve new understanding of three significant diseases: rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and vasculitis. Review of his publications from the 1950s and 1960s provides a window into a time when figures were hand drawn and papers often had a single author. While the tools of technology that we rely on today were not available to Chuck, his insights have had a sustained impact on how we understand and treat autoimmune rheumatic diseases (table 1). His talents and his dedication to patients, colleagues, science and medicine supported a lifetime of remarkable contributions.

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Table 1

Charles L Christian, MD: major scientific contributions

Rheumatoid arthritis

Dr Christian’s research addressing immunologic mechanisms in RA was inspired by Dr Ragan, who with Dr Harry M. Rose can be credited with the discovery of rheumatoid factor. Dr Ragan was Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons at the time Chuck joined their faculty as a young physician. In 1957, in a paper published with Dr Ragan, and in a single-author study published in Journal …

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  • Handling editor Josef S Smolen

  • Contributors The author is solely responsible for all aspects of the submitted manuscript.

  • 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 and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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