History of the Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy

The Robert Breck Brigham Hospital for Incurables was founded in 1914. A wealthy restaurateur, Robert Brigham followed the example set by his uncle, Peter Bent Brigham, and bequeathed his estate to establish a hospital. Originally established as an institution to treat those with chronic or incurable diseases, the hospital gradually came to focus on rheumatic diseases and became the first teaching hospital in the country entirely devoted to arthritis and related diseases. The name was subsequently shortened to the Robert B. Brigham Hospital in 1956.

In 1972, an independent Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School was established at the Robert B. Brigham Hospital under the guidance of Dr. K. Frank Austen, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The main research facilities of the Department were moved to the Seeley G. Mudd Building on the main campus of Harvard Medical school in 1977. In 1980, three Harvard teaching hospitals — the Robert B. Brigham Hospital, the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and the Boston Hospital for Women — merged to form the Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH). The Robert B. Brigham Department of Medicine became the Department of Rheumatology and Immunology and is currently the Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy in the Department of Medicine, BWH. Dr. Michael B. Brenner, Theodore B. Bayles Professor of Medicine, now serves as Division Chief.

In 1997, the laboratory-based research units of the Division were consolidated in the newly constructed Smith Research Building adjacent to the Tower Building of the Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Longwood Medical Community. The Division now includes a total of 63 research and clinical faculty members with almost all of these located primarily at BWH, and the rest at the Harvard School of Public Health. The Division has over 29,000 square feet of research space.


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