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NIH Record vertical blue bar column separator Retirees graphic

NIAMS Clinical Director Klippel Retires

By Janet Howard

NIAMS clinical director Dr. John "Jack" Klippel, 55, retired in June after more than 25 years of federal service. He has been named medical director of the Arthritis Foundation.

A graduate of the University of Cincinnati Medical College in 1970, he joined NIH in 1972 as a clinical associate in the Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch in the former NIAMDD. After a brief stint at the University of San Diego, Klippel returned to the institute in 1976 as a senior investigator. In 1985, he also became clinical professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, and in 1987, he was appointed clinical director of NIAMS.

Dr. John "Jack" Klippel

Klippel is editor of the medical textbook Rheumatology, which is considered the first choice in reference books found on any rheumatologist's book shelf. His editorial positions and list of original publications are extensive, and his awards include the NIH Director's Award, the Distinguished Clinical Teacher Award from the Clinical Center, and the Surgeon General's Award for Exemplary Service. He has also served on the board of directors of the Lupus Foundation and the Arthritis Foundation.

At a June 19 ceremony in Wilson Hall, many of Klippel's family, friends and colleagues honored him. NIAMS director Dr. Stephen Katz, said, "Jack has contributed greatly to NIAMS. His long-term studies of lupus patients have played pivotal roles in treating this disease. I wish him continued success."

Former acting director of the Clinical Center, Dr. Saul Rosen, said of Klippel, "He is a good, collegial citizen. He is a good listener and will hear you out, and is open to new ideas and suggestions. He is a mensch!"

NIAMS scientific director Dr. Peter Lipsky said, "I wish him good luck. There is a feeling of positivity with Jack linking to a partnering organization like the Arthritis Foundation."

Dr. Paul Plotz, chief of NIAMS' Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch, has known Klippel since he first came to NIH as a fellow. "He was reluctant when he first got here, but he quickly overcame it, and went on to become the clinical director. He did not demand any recognition. Jack started the first NIH day hospital. The move to the Arthritis Foundation will be a terrific one for him."

Dr. Joan McGowan, director of the Musculoskeletal Diseases Branch, noted, "It's a shame to lose him, but it's great to have someone we know and trust in his new position. Jack is the perfect person in place for our partnership with the Arthritis Foundation."

Klippel closed the event by recalling, "I was mentored here by former Clinical Center director John Decker. His shoes were hard to fill when he left. I have been very fortunate to work here, grow here, and take on new challenges. The Arthritis Foundation is not all that different&emdash;it is an organization for people who have arthritis. Steve Katz once shared a letter with me he got from the mother of a patient. She wrote to thank us for all we do for people. We touch their lives, and that is what we are all about."

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