Press Releases for 1994

NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
October 1994 Contact: Constance Raab
Office of Scientific and
Health Communications
(301) 496-8188

First NIAMS Director Lawrence Shulman Retires, Is Named Director Emeritus

Dr. Lawrence E. Shulman, the first director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), is retiring from his position as of October 31, 1994. He will become the first NIAMS Director Emeritus, remaining at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to carry out several special projects in prevention research in which he has a keen interest. Dr. Shulman has directed the Institute since it was first established in April 1986.

During his tenure as NIAMS Director, Dr. Shulman successfully guided the development of the Institute through its formative years. He played a pivotal role in facilitating the growth of both the intramural and extramural research areas of the Institute by developing new programs, encouraging innovation, and seizing scientific opportunities. He also convened 150 of the country's leading scientists to develop a comprehensive national plan for the Institute.

In the intramural area, Dr. Shulman organized plans, as requested by Congress, for future program development and expansion. He convened a high-level external advisory group that recommended new laboratories and clinical research programs. Thus far, two renowned laboratories--in structural biology and in skin diseases research--have been added. Also established were a model sabbatical program for outside researchers, a collaborative research training program with Howard University, and a training program in pediatric rheumatology with Children's National Medical Center.

NIAMS-supported extramural researchers have made significant progress and major discoveries in numerous areas of research related to the joints, bones, muscles, skin, and connective tissues and their disorders. In addition, under Dr. Shulman's leadership, the Institute has launched a series of research initiatives to build on recent advances, focusing on basic biology, pathogenetic mechanisms of disease, clinical investigations, epidemiology, and prevention research in these important areas.

A strong supporter of research on both women's health and minorities' health, Dr. Shulman has made research on diseases such as osteoporosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma high priorities for the Institute. At the same time, he understood the importance of addressing all of the diseases within the broad and diverse mandate of the Institute, and has endeavored to bring many of the more costly and prevalent of these diseases to the forefront of the Nation's research agenda, as well as mount initiatives for tragic rare (orphan) diseases, such as epidermolysis bullosa and osteogenesis imperfecta. Epidemiology has been a priority, with NIAMS leading national data groups on arthritis, osteoporosis, and skin diseases and setting up research registries for several rare diseases.

Collaboration has been a key feature of Dr. Shulman's tenure. He fostered coordination among Federal agencies through his chairmanship of three interagency groups in skin diseases, arthritis and musculoskeletal diseases, and bone diseases. He worked closely with the NIH Office of Medical Applications of Research to set up key consensus development conferences on ultraviolet light and the skin, optimal calcium intake, and total hip replacement. Dr. Shulman gained cooperation between NIAMS and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration through a joint scientific workshop and later a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on studies of bone loss and muscle atrophy both on earth and in space. He also played an active role in several international collaborations with Russia, Italy, the Caribbean Nations, Germany, and other countries. Dr. Shulman's commitment to cooperation also can be seen in the activities of the Task Force on Lupus in High Risk Populations, generating effective education programs for young African-American women.

Dr. Shulman's career at the NIH began in 1976 when he was appointed the first NIH Associate Director for Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases for what was then the National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism, and Digestive Diseases. As such, he created and implemented the programs recommended by the National Arthritis Act and the "Arthritis Plan," which was presented to Congress in 1976 by the National Commission on Arthritis and Related Musculoskeletal Diseases. In 1983, he was named Director of the Division of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of the National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, where he served until the establishment of the NIAMS.

Throughout his career, Dr. Shulman has maintained his association with The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions where he completed his internship, residency, and research fellowship in internal medicine and endocrinology. He then joined the full-time Medical School Faculty there, becoming the first Director of the Connective Tissue (Rheumatology) Division, whose growth and activities he developed over the next 20 years before he came to the NIH. Dr. Shulman has been a greatly admired mentor and teacher of many of the nation's leading rheumatology investigators here and abroad.

An internationally recognized leader in rheumatology, Dr. Shulman has himself made many major contributions to biomedical research, particularly in the areas of systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma and other connective tissue diseases. Among his notable achievements is the discovery of eosinophilic fasciitis, also known as Shulman's disease. In 1975, Dr. Shulman was awarded the Heberden Medal for Research in the Rheumatic Diseases in London. He has also been a leader in many professional organizations, serving in 1974-75 as President of the American Rheumatism Association (now the American College of Rheumatology), and as President of the Pan-American League Against Rheumatism from 1982 to 1986.

Dr. Shulman has been the recipient of many honors and awards during his noteworthy career, including a 1992 award for leadership in promoting orthopaedic research from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, a 1993 Presidential Citation for leadership in biomedical research from the American Academy of Dermatology, a 1994 Lupus Foundation of America Award for dedicated leadership and service on behalf of people with lupus, and a 1994 award from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research for his outstanding support of research in the field of bone and mineral metabolism. Dr. Shulman has chaired Scientific Groups of the World Health Organization in Connective Tissue Diseases, Rheumatic Diseases and Osteoporosis. He has also been elected to honorary membership by numerous societies around the world.

In conferring the new title of Director Emeritus on Dr. Shulman, Dr. Harold Varmus, Director of the NIH, said "the Emeritus designation is a high honor accorded those few selected individuals who have distinguished themselves during their careers at the National Institutes of Health." The title becomes effective November 1, 1994.