Ziff, Morris

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ZIFF, MORRIS

ZIFF, MORRIS (1913–2005), U.S. rheumatologist. Ziff was born in Brooklyn, New York, and earned his B.S. (1934) and Ph.D. (1937) in chemistry from New York University (nyu) where he was a postdoctoral research chemist with Erwin Chargaff (1939–41). The difficulties of pursuing a career in basic science persuaded him to obtain his M.D. (1948) from nyu Medical College where he worked as a clinical and research rheumatologist (1950–58) and was head of clinical research from 1952. In 1958 he moved to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas as professor of medicine and founding director of the Rheumatic Diseases Division. He became an Ashbel Smith Professor (1981), the highest professorial rank in the university, and he remained chief of rheumatology until 1984. He was founding director of the Harold C. Simmons Arthritis Research Center (1983–84), and he continued his research and clinical activities as professor emeritus until 1999. Ziff pursued a career-long interest in the immunological and inflammatory mechanisms that affect joints in rheumatoid arthritis and are widespread in the body in other rheumatic diseases. He used his laboratory discoveries to develop tests of clinical value for diagnosis and assessing disease activity. His ideas inspired similar research in most major rheumatology centers in the world. His program of integrated laboratory and clinical studies also became an accepted model for organizing research in this field. His identification of cytokines as the factors that stimulate joint inflammation was an important contribution to the current development of monoclonal antibodies for controlling rheumatic diseases. In addition to his research skills, Ziff was an outstanding clinician and teacher. His extraordinary blend of scientific rigor, intellectual curiosity, and human sympathy inspired the 131 research fellows he trained to pursue similar, often outstanding careers throughout the world. His many honors included the Heberden Medal of the British Society for Rheumatology (1964), the Carol Nachman Prize (1974), the Bunim Medal of the Pan-American Congress of Rheumatology (1982), and the first Gold Medal of the American College of Rheumatology (1988).

[Michael Denman (2nd ed.)]