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Brewer, Earl J.
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Earl J. Brewer, MD was a pioneer of pediatric rheumatology locally, nationally, and internationally. He founded and was chair of the pediatric department of Kelsey Seybold Clinic for 22 years; founded and was chair of the Rheumatology Section and Division at Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine for 30 years; and was also a clinical professor at Baylor. Earl was a prolific writer, and authored many medical papers and several medical, nonfiction, and fiction books.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, on July 3, 1928, Earl grew up in North Texas, graduating from Arlington Heights High School in 1945. He attended The University of Texas in Austin for a year and a half followed by a year and a half in the United States Regular Army. After his army service, he worked at night as a hospital laboratory technician in Fort Worth at All Saints Hospital while he attended Texas Christian University, graduating in 1950.
In 1954, Earl graduated from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, aided by scholarships from the Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones scholarship. He received specialty training in pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Harvard Medical School in Boston.
Earl's professional career spanned 32 years, beginning with a small-town medical practice in Wharton, Texas. As founder and chair of the pediatric department of the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, he directed the development of that department from 1961 to 1983. In addition, he was a leader both nationally and internationally in clinical research and educational/service projects for such organizations as the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Department of Health and Human Services. As a pioneer in pediatric rheumatology, he developed and directed as clinical professor, the Pediatric Rheumatology Center and Section at both the Pediatric Department of Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Children's Hospital from 1958 to 1988.
Earl wrote what were definitive books on juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, which were translated into several languages. He was a leader involved with several important stepping stones necessary for the development of pediatric rheumatology, including the writing of the criteria used in the diagnosis of JRA, founding and chairing the Pediatric Rheumatology Collaborative Study Group, organizing and chairing the Rheumatology Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and helping to organize and chairing the pediatric component of the American College of Rheumatology. He also was responsible for the pediatric rheumatology portion of the NIH, USA-USSR scientific cooperation program.
He worked with the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases from 1975 to 1992 as principal investigator for four studies by 20 centers in the USA and 5 centers in the USSR concerned with arthritis in children. As founder and chairman of the Pediatric Rheumatology Collaborative Study Group he directed over 15 multicenter studies of anti-arthritis medicines resulting in approval of several new drugs by the FDA. His last study was of methotrexate in children with JRA in both the USA and USSR funded principally by the FDA and the USSR and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Earl was a member of the Arthritis Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration from 1976 to 1980.
In 1984, Earl and other individuals interested in forming a parent/child/health professional organization for the purpose of learning together pioneered the first American Juvenile Arthritis Organization meeting in Keystone, Colorado. The meeting is now the largest of the Arthritis Foundation meetings.
Earl worked hard to promote better coordination of care, services and case management for children with chronic illness or disabling conditions. From 1986 to 1990, he worked full time with the DHHS Maternal and Child Health Bureau and Dr. C. Everett Koop, the Surgeon General, to facilitate development of family-centered, community-based coordinated care for children with special needs. With others, he actively developed the Family-to-Family Network to provide support, information, and referral for families with special needs children.
He published 200 peer-reviewed papers, books, abstracts, chapters, monographs, and pamphlets including two medical movies. He received numerous awards, including the Surgeon General's Exemplary Service Award, presented to him on September 7, 1988 by Dr. C. Everett Koop. The Arthritis Foundation and the American Juvenile Arthritis Organization created an annual award in Earl's name that is given yearly to a health professional who has made an outstanding contribution to the care of children with arthritis. The American Academy of Pediatrics created the Earl Brewer Travel Award that is given to an outstanding Pediatric Rheumatology Fellow for a research project yearly at the section's annual meeting.
After retiring from the practice of medicine in 1990, Earl wrote fiction and nonfiction full time, including Parenting a Child with Arthritis (co-authored), The Arthritis Source Book, and a novel, Picking Up The Marbles. Earl was a member of a number of civic and social organizations, and particularly loved his long association with The Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club and the Forest Club and the many close friends he had in those places.
He died on March 19, 2015 in Houston, Texas at the age of 86
Published in Houston Chronicle on Mar. 22, 2015, http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/houstonchronicle/obituary.aspx?pid=174451931