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Leonard H. Calabrese, D.O. (HON ’07): Rheumatology

Career Medical Specialties Series 2008-09 

Dr. Calabrese has lectured nationally and internationally on HIV, immunology and rheumatology. A past Phillips Medal winner, he delivered the keynote address at the 1994 OU-COM Commencement ceremony.  

In September, he was named the Theodore F. Classen, D.O., Chair in Osteopathic Research and Education at the Cleveland Clinic, where he also holds the R.J. Fasenmyer Chair of Clinical Immunology. Currently, he is the only Cleveland Clinic physician to hold multiple endowed chairs.


Dr. Calabrese on rheumatology

Leonard Calabrese, D.O., speaks about his field for the Career
Medical Specialties Series

By Richard Heck
Nov. 24, 2008

Choosing the right medical specialty requires professional agility and self-awareness, Leonard H. Calabrese, D.O. (HON ’07) told students earlier this month during a campus visit.

“Everyone’s career turns on a dime,”
Calabrese said during a lecture for the OU-COM Career Medical Specialties Series. He advised students to “keep an open mind” while seeking a specialty that they really love, “and it will all work out in the end.”

Calabrese specializes in rheumatology and immunology. Rheumatology, which focuses on rheumatic conditions, frequently overlaps with immunology, a broader field that covers all conditions related to the immune system. 

When he first went to the Cleveland Clinic, Calabrese said he had no idea what rheumatology was. Upon exploration, Calabrese become enamored with the field. “I fell in love with it. Rheumatology brings the principals of immunology to patient care each and every day. The vast majority of diseases that most interest us are immunology-driven,” he said.

Rheumatology also touches on a variety of other medical fields, such as orthopedics, neurology and sports medicine. “It is the one specialty where you can bridge so many things. I don’t think you see that in too many other fields,” Calabrese said.

The future of rheumatology is promising, Calabrese said. More than 100 fellowships are available in allopathic institutions, and three in osteopathic institutions—“all very good programs,” he said. Although fellowships are competitive, they remain favorable to students in osteopathic medicine, according to Calabrese.

Interest in rheumatology has grown over the past several years, partly because of the lifestyle perks, Calabrese said. The field is attractive to women because it rarely requires physicians to be on call, which can ease the scheduling strains of motherhood. Between 50 and 60 percent of rheumatology fellowships are filled by women, he said.

To conclude, Calabrese offered thoughts on how first- and second-year students can “earn (their) place in the world” of medicine.

“Medicine is the most human of all professions. You are given these incredible privileges and such incredible trust. You have to be very human, too,” said Calabrese, who noted that physicians should never treat a disease without considerable study into that condition.

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Last updated: 01/28/2016