Carlos J. Lozada, M.D., director of the rheumatology fellowship program at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is the 2020 recipient of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Distinguished Fellowship Program Director Award. He is the first program director at the Miller School to receive this recognition.
“The interactions I’ve had with ACR have been immensely enriching. To have recognition is a bonus,” said Dr. Lozada, who is a professor of clinical medicine. ”Hopefully it inspires others to do some of the things you did — not only being involved in training but being involved in national and international organizations that hopefully will lead to better care and better opportunities for care for patients with rheumatic diseases.”
Established in 1934, the ACR is a professional organization of more than 7,700 physicians worldwide united in advancing the specialty of rheumatology. Dr. Lozada has led ACR working groups and task forces that have accomplished a variety of educational milestones for the field. Among those accomplishments is a match program for rheumatology fellowships across the U.S. and producing the first version of an annual in-training exam for rheumatology trainees.
“Dr. Lozada’s impressive dedication to the American College of Rheumatology and to the field of rheumatology, together with his numerous accomplishments, all contributed to his being designated for this honor,” said Ellen Gravallese, M.D., president of the ACR.
At the Miller School of Medicine, Dr. Lozada has been the rheumatology fellowship program director since 1996. The program is one of more than 100 in the nation and has been training rheumatologists since 1950. With learning environments in university, community, and veterans’ hospitals, fellowship trainees at the Miller School are exposed to diverse patient populations and presentations of rheumatic diseases. In addition to his role as program director, Dr. Lozada is also the interim division chief for rheumatology and the incoming president of the Pan American League of Associations of Rheumatology.
Dr. Lozada was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As a child, he watched his grandfather, a pulmonologist, care for patients with tuberculosis at a time there was no known care plan, let alone a cure. His grandfather witnessed the origin of antibiotics and other treatments for TB from the 1920s to the 1960s. Dr. Lozada compares his grandfather’s experiences to his own exposure to growth and discovery within the field of rheumatology.
“I think there’s been quite a change from the mid-1990s to today in the numbers and options we have for treating diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and even vasculitis,” Dr. Lozada said. “The advances have been quite substantial.”
For Dr. Lozada, the award and recognition aren’t the rewards. Instead, they are the affirmation of what’s enriching and rewarding about the specialty itself: the challenge and exhilaration of problem-solving, and the ability to connect with patients over a lifetime. These serve the pursuit of both the “social mission of medicine and the scientific mission of medicine,” says Dr. Lozada. He enjoys the collegial atmosphere among interdisciplinary team members, from students to doctors to scientists and other researchers who work together to make new discoveries.
Ultimately, though, it is the intersection of rheumatology with most other specialties and the exponential sharing of information when breakthroughs are made that Dr. Lozada finds most compelling. The field of rheumatology is one of both discovery and sharing that discovery across medicine to improve patient care.
“You can multiply the reach of your institution and your own interests in this area by training others,” he said. “It really does turn one site of intervention into dozens and dozens throughout the country, and throughout the world, through people you have trained.”
The ACR will recognize Dr. Lozada during their virtual annual meeting in November.