After living with kidney cancer for 4½ years, Dr. Mark F. Gourley, former director of the NIAMS Rheumatology Fellowship and Training Branch, died on Sept. 17. He was 58 years old.
When Gourley was still a student at Tulane University Medical School in New Orleans, he had his first experience at NIH, completing a 9-week immunology rotation. In 1988, after finishing his residency at the University of Washington, he returned to the Bethesda campus as an NIAMS rheumatology fellow.“Mark faced adversity with bravery, humility and kindness, continuing to be a great teacher even as he dealt with his own illness,” said NIAMS clinical director Dr. Richard Siegel. “He will be greatly missed by the many physicians, nurses, researchers, patients and friends whose lives he touched and enlightened with his wit and wisdom.”
Dr. Lisa Rider, who trained with Gourley at NIAMS, said, “Mark was a very warm, personable and caring person who always took time to smile and to help everyone—patients and colleagues at every level. He is remembered as an outstanding rheumatologist, a true expert in the clinical care of lupus and myositis and he was beloved by his patients, fellows and colleagues.”
At NIAMS, Gourley began his career as a lupus researcher, eventually conducting the landmark study that established cyclophosphamide as the standard of care in the treatment of lupus nephritis.
In 1996, he left NIH to establish Washington, D.C.’s first lupus clinic at the Washington Hospital Center. He returned to NIH 6 years later as a clinical investigator at NIEHS, where he focused on environmental causes of autoimmune diseases.
Dr. Fred Miller worked with Gourley at NIEHS and throughout his NIH career. “While his clinical and scientific skills are justly celebrated, we will always remember his kind humor, dedication to patient care, generous training of young clinicians and intellectual stimulation of his colleagues,” said Miller.
In 2007, Gourley was recruited back to NIAMS—the institute he would call home—to direct the NIH Rheumatology Fellowship Program and to oversee clinical care at the NIAMS Community Health Center.
Dr. Adam Schiffenbauer, a fellow who trained under Gourley, said, “Mark was always able to get the best out of people. He knew the right way to get someone to excel and was always willing to go well past an extra mile to help others shine.”
In addition to his training role, Gourley continued to contribute to clinical research in myositis and other areas until his retirement in 2013. Dr. Paul Plotz, who worked with Gourley on muscle disease and myositis research, remarked, “He was a superb physician—always anxious to pass on any new knowledge to his colleagues and students and to draw out of students and fellows what they knew.”
Gourley is survived by his wife, Wendy Kisch; children and sons-in-law, Charlie Gourley, Justin Gourley, Lindsey and Tim Miller, and Jamie and Justin Dean; granddaughter, Elise Dean; mother, Phyllis Gourley; and sister and brothers, Carol Stadler, Paul Gourley and Glenn Gourley.