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Dr. Roland Moskowitz (1929 - 2018)

Dr. Roland Moskowitz was a giant in the rheumatology world for decades, and one of a handful of researchers who doggedly rose to one of rheumatology's greatest challenges: osteoarthritis. He has pased away at the age 88 years.

With great sadness, we note the recent passing of Dr. Moskowitz on August 2, 2018. His legacy career in rheumatology is rooted by his excellence as a reseacher, educator, clinician and as a man of great character. His seriousness for science and medicine was amazingly complemented by his warmth and fabulous humor. There are few in the annals of rheumatology who have had the impact that he had on osteoarthritis. He readily shared his conquests and knowledge with great aplomb, zest and a smile that made OA a compelling challenge. His style, demeanor and enthusiasm are lifelong lessons for the numerous students, colleagues and leaders whom he inspired.

Roland W. Moskowitz, MD, was a Professor of Medicine and former Director and recently a member of the Rheumatology Clinical Research Unit and  Division of Rheumatic Diseases at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, in Cleveland, Ohio. He began his training in rheumatology and internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic. Soon after, Dr. Moskowitz joined the medicine faculty at Temple University and later Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where he resided in Pepper Pike for many years.

Moskowitz's career of servitude benefited many, including the American College of Rheumatology and the National Arthritis Foundation, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the Subspecialty Board of Rheumatology and the Osteoarthritis Research Society International where he led by title or example.

A highly revered clinician and educator, Dr. Moskowitz's research career was keenly and productively focused on the pathophysiology and genetics of osteoarthritis. In the 1970's, he developed the partial meniscectomy model of post-traumatic OA in rabbits which is known as the "Moskowitz model."  In 1990 he received international recognition for research linking osteoarthritis to a defective collagen gene.  In 2016, he also was the Lifetime Achievement Recipient for the Ohio Association of Rheumatology.

Dr. Moskowitz is the author of over 225 published articles and is editor of 11 textbooks, including Osteoarthrtis - Diagnosis and Medical Surgical Management.

Many of Dr. Moskowitz's colleagues have easily and emotionally recalled memories of this great man.

Dr. Allan Gibofsky: "Rollie was a great Rheumatologist and even more important, a warm and caring human being, truly "one of the giants." He will be missed by all who knew him--especially those with a sense of humor. My favorite Rollie story is the one he frequently told about when he checked in for a flight at Cleveland-Hopkins and said to the airline agent: "I have three bags and I want the first to go to New York, the second to San Francisco and the third to Dallas." The agent was confused by this request and said "I'm sorry, Dr. Moskowitz, but we can't do that, as you're travelling to Boston." Rollie replied "Why not? You did this to me just last week when I was going to Atlanta!"

Dr. Marc Hochberg: "Rollie was a “mensch”; a leader in the field of Osteoarthritis, a great speaker and story teller. He will be missed by those of us who had the pleasure to work with and learn from him."

Dr. Ted Pincus: "Rollie was probably the most entertaining rheumatologist of his generation and perhaps succeeding generations. One could always count on good humor and memorable stories.  He was a superb clinician -  he injected my trochanteric bursitis while I was traveling through Cleveland about 30 years ago, and I haven’t needed another injection service. And he was a good friend to many  rheumatologists, supporting young people in career growth. He will be sorely missed by the rheumatology community."

Dr. Jim O'Dell: " Rollie was a spectacular innovative rheumatologist.  However my favorite memory is of Rollie they person.  Twenty years ago he stood in the door of a United airlines international flight so I could board “.

Dr. Gary Hoffman: "I was very fond of Rollie,  even though I only knew him in passing. I think that speaks to the genuine interest he had in people from the moment of meeting.  He will be missed by many who were even more fortunate to have shared his life, support, mentoring and good humor.  His was a life and a legacy that truly made a difference."

Dr. Warren Katz: "Rollie was not a mentor in the usual sense, but as with all of us, I learned a lot from him. Also, quite coincidentally, because I am writing an interactive online book on osteoarthritis, his text, “Osteoarthritis: Diagnosis and Medical/Surgical Management,” is sitting on top of my desk right now. I was honored to write the chapter on “Osteoarthritis: Clinical Presentations,” which I referenced just a few days ago. He honored me by writing the chapter on ”Osteoarthritis” for my textbook, “Diagnosis and Management of Rheumatic Diseases.”  He was a dear friend, and I always looked forward to meeting up with him at ACR meetings. He had me out to Cleveland many years ago as a visiting professor. What a very special man!"

Dr. Stanley Cohen: "Rollie was a giant in rheumatology and made significant contributions to our understanding of the pathogenesis and treatment of osteoarthritis. On top of that he was wonderful person, and it was pleasure to interact with him."

Dr. Michael Weissman: "Rollie and was a caring individual. He stood apart from his generation as someone who was concerned about others and always asked how you were doing. Rollie had no airs or pretensions. I will miss him greatly. "

Dr. Steve Abramson: "Very sad. Rollie was an inspiration, a giant in the field of osteoarthritis, humble, kind and humorous....We’ve lost a true “mensch”.

Dr. Art Weaver: "Rollie was great clinician and teacher, a true gentleman, and a role model for several generations of rheumatologists."

Dr. Priya Sivaraman (recent fellow): " Dr. Moskawitz was  truly a legend. I am so lucky and blessed to have the opportunity to train directly with the legend. He definitely had a wealth of knowledge and kindness. He always made sure everyone around him was happy. He always had a smile on his face which I will never forget. As a teacher he always taught me to be positive, care for patients like own family members, always smile, read textbooks to expand your knowledge, be very patient, and never give up your passion for rheumatology. He is my Guru and one of the reasons why I am a rheumatologist today. I miss him so dearly. He was such a humble, kind hearted individual. He also was so proud of his family and children and always shared funny stories with us on rounds. My heart felt condolences goes out to his Mrs. Moskawitz and his beloved children. He was more than a teacher for me, he is a hero to me. Will always love him and miss him"

Dr. Nora Singer: "Rollie was very proud of the fellows and faculty he mentored. He was even prouder of his children and loved to show pictures of his wife, children and almost there year old grand  child"

Dr. Michael Weinblatt: "Rollie, a gold medal recipient, was a giant in our field, a superb teacher, gifted researcher and an acknowledged world expert in osteoarthritis. A true gentleman and a dear personal friend. A remarkable teacher who was able to make the most complicated topic understandable. A fantastic sense of humor who worked in the Catskills as a comic in his younger days. Peeta and Rollie were an elegant couple who were beloved by the Rheumatology community."

Our heart felt and grateful condolences go out to his wife Peta and children Josh Moskowitz and Kara Moskowitz. 

The family has requested that donations in his honor be forwarded to either the University Hospitals of Cleveland Department of Rheumatology, The Mayo Clinic Department of Rheumatology or ORT America.

Rheumatologists' Comments

I didnt know him on a personal level but I remember his lectures--entertaining and informative.
Rollie was a great scientist and wonderful human being. He was truly a pioneer in the field of OA and brought a new understanding to the field which has been the benchmark for subsequent work. He was proud of his rheumatology training at Mayo Clinic, and was a recipient of the Clinic's highest recognition, the Distinguished Alumnus Award. He will be remembered for his many contributions and his warmth. Eric Matteson

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