Living with pain is unimaginable for those of us who can easily move around. It's hard to even consider what life would be like to get in or out of bed if it were a daily burden. Whether it is a creaky knee, stiffness in the hip or major inflammation that settles in the joints, arthritic pain is the "unfriended" pest that will not go away. Arthritis itself comes in many forms and if you are in pain and seek an accurate diagnosis, you will eventually turn to Rheumatology, which is is the specialty for treatment of joint pain.
This month I have chosen Dr. Joan Bathon, Divisional Chief of Rheumatology at Columbia University Medical Center to be the "iconic woman". Her dedicated work encompasses a wide range of interests in the field: caring for patients, working on her multiple research projects and as a teaching Professor to doctors in training. She is a well rounded person with strength to get her through a grueling daily schedule, an even personality who is also modest, kind, fiercely smart and - at times - fiercely blunt, with a wry sense of humor just to shake things up. Her patients adore her and are very loyal, even if finding appointments can sometimes be a challenge due to Dr. Bathon's filled calendar. Some of these patients have very complicated conditions. It takes patience and careful evaluation of all symptoms followed by investigative tests in order to confirm an accurate diagnosis. This is how a skilled physician finds the best treatment to slow down or prevent progression of the disease. Dr. Bathon's specialty lies in Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is a condition where the immune system turns on the affected person's body. She has written many scholarly papers on this subject, travels the world to give lectures and attend conferences. Her work as Principal Investigator on her research studies comes with added pressure. There is a constant need for funding or re-funding and as Principal Investigator, she is held accountable to prove every step of the research progress is achieved for her work to continue, but she manages to keep her projects going and new ones granted. These research studies are so important to find different treatment options, give a better understanding of the disease and progress made is in part thanks to all the patients generous enough to participate in her research studies.
This is only a brief summary of the person everyone respects and admires. She certainly makes a great choice for this month and I should know this since I was fortunate to work closely under her on some of her research projects. I can easily say that my time in Rheumatology was nothing short of a most rewarding experience. It was hard work at times, but with Dr. Joan Bathon at the helm, we all kept focused on a common goal: master the challenges of every research project given to us. To me, she always seemed so busy. She came in early and left late but I always knew when she was in her office, by the sound of NPR's classical music station wafting softly into the reception area. From there, I could catch a glimpse of her at her computer, immersed in her work. She looked so peaceful she could be writing an email to a friend or doing some mundane task, who knew the scope of what she was working on? We all knew not to bother her with trivia, but she was always available if needed or fair game to anything funny. I never heard her raise her voice and I don't believe I ever saw her lose her composure. That just proves that some people are happy with the life they lead and wear it well. She is someone who wears her passion elegantly, every day.
Dr. Bathon enjoying a moment with a new friend
I hope you will watch the interview with Dr. Bathon and appreciate what she has to say.
Photo courtesy of The Department of Medicine, CUMC.
In addition to Dr. Bathon's many research projects, she has been PI or co-investigator on many pivotal RA clinical trials, both industry and NIH sponsored. Dr. Bathon has authored over 160 manuscripts and book chapters. She served as Editor-in-Chief of Arthritis and Rheumatology from 2010-15. She is a standing member of the NIH-NIAMS Arthritis Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Clinical Trial Review Committee (AMSCT) study section, and has served on a variety of other NIH and foundation grant review study sections and as chair or member of several NIH sponsored DSMBs. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), and she is a past member of the FDA Arthritis Advisory Committee.
Education & Training
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Internship: University of Maryland Medical Center
Residency: University of Maryland Medical Center
Fellowship: Johns Hopkins Hopital
For a complete list of publications, please visit PubMed.gov