Michael Lockshin, MD, is Professor Emeritus of Medicine at HSS and retired from HSS on January 31st, 2023.
Dr. Lockshin continues to be the Director Emeritus of the Barbara Volcker Center for Women and Rheumatic Disease at Hospital for Special Surgery. From his days as a medical student, when he cared for a seriously ill pregnant woman with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), he focused his career on patients with this disease, including those who are pregnant. He was one of the first physicians to associate the newly discovered antiphospholipid antibody with pregnancy complications. Dr. Lockshin also had a long-standing interest in sex differences in disease incidence and convened a conference and participated in an Institute of Medicine review on the topic.
Throughout his career, Dr. Lockshin has noted the complexity of SLE. Chief among these issues were the frequent occurrence of patients with SLE-like illnesses who do not meet criteria for this diagnosis, and others who have SLE as well as other autoimmune diseases like thyroid disease or multiple sclerosis. These patients led him to question the yes-you-have-it/no-you-don’t approach to chronic illnesses. He published many medical papers on disease overlap and evolution as well as three books: Guarded Prognosis (2010), about evolving scientific and socioeconomic trends in medicine that conflict with patients’ desires; Dancing at the River’s Edge (2010, with Alida Brill), in which a patient and a doctor explore their communications and miscommunications over a long period of time; and The Prince at the Ruined Tower (2017), about the actuality and effects of diagnostic uncertainty on patients, physicians and students.
Writing his last book inspired Dr. Lockshin to seek consensus on how to conceptualize and act on diagnostic uncertainty. In April 2021 he convened an international conference on this topic, bringing together basic scientists, clinical researchers, practicing physicians, patients and members of the pharmaceutical, administrative, insurance and media communities to find practical solutions for patients with conditions that do not fall within clear diagnostic criteria. The conference resulted in a “white paper” and a book about diagnostic uncertainty.
Dr. Lockshin graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Medical School; he did his medical residency at Second (Cornell) Medical Service at Bellevue Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and his rheumatology fellowship at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital (now NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center). He also served as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service of the Communicable Disease Center (now Centers for Disease Control), where he focused on environmental causes of rheumatic illnesses. A member of the faculty of Weill Cornell Medical College and a staff rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery and New York Hospital (now Weill Cornell Medicine) from 1970 to 1989, he became Extramural Director, then Acting Director of the NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases in 1989. He returned to HSS in 1997 to head the Barbara Volcker Center, as attending physician at HSS and professor of medicine and obstetrics-gynecology at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Dr. Lockshin served as Editor-in-Chief of Arthritis & Rheumatism, rheumatology's premier journal, from 2005 to 2010. He authored more than 330 research papers, book chapters and books, most on the topics of lupus, pregnancy, antiphospholipid syndrome and sex differences in disease. Among his recognitions include national awards from the Arthritis Foundation, the American College of Rheumatology and the Lupus Foundation of America.