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Division of Rheumatology
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Campus Box 356428
Seattle, WA 98195

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Bruce C. Gilliland, M.D.


In Memoriam


Professor of Medicine
Division of Rheumatology


Professor of Laboratory Medicine
Adjunct Professor of Microbiology


American College of Rheumatology Master


1931 - 2007



Bruce C. Gilliland, an outstanding teacher, administrator, and physician died on February 17, 2007. He was born in 1931 in Lima, Peru, while his father was a missionary physician in that country. He was the oldest of five brothers. He graduated from the Occidental College in California and received his MD degree from the Northwestern University Medical School in 1960. After his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Washington he started his fellowship in Rheumatology at this institution. He then transferred to the University of Rochester in New York State to complete his fellowship and to gain additional training in immunology with the late Dr. John Vaughan. In 1968 he was recruited to the University of Washington as an Assistant Professor of Medicine and the first Head of the Section of Rheumatology at the Veterans Affairs Hospital, affiliated with the University of Washington.

His career in academic medicine at the University of Washington advanced rapidly. In 1971 he became the Director of the Clinical Immunology Laboratory in the Department of Laboratory Medicine, and was then promoted first to Associate Professor (1972) then to Professor of Medicine and Laboratory Medicine (1977). Among his many administrative positions in the School of Medicine, he served as the Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program (1971-1976), Medical Director of the Providence Medical Center (1976-1983), Chief of the Department of Medicine of the Pacific Medical Center (1983-1987), Director of Medical Education at Providence Medical Center (1987-1989), Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs of the School of Medicine (1989-1998), Acting Dean of the School of Medicine (1990), Dean’s Liaison to the University of Washington Medical Alumni Affairs (1991-1995), Acting Director for Continuing Medical Education of the School of Medicine (1992-1995), and Acting Head of the Division of Rheumatology (2001).

Dr. Gilliland held a number of positions in the King County Medical Society, including serving as President in 1986 and Managing Editor of the King County Medical Society Bulletin in 1987. He was active in the Washington State Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation and served as the Chairman of the Board (1992-1994). He was the President of the Seattle Academy of Internal Medicine in 1993. He was a founding member of the American Board of Laboratory Medicine (1972-1975).

Dr. Gilliland served on several editorial boards over the years. He made original contributions to the science of medicine and published chapters to many textbooks, most notably numerous chapters to the ten sequential editions (1974-2005) of the premier textbook Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. He lectured locally, nationally and internationally. In recognition of his achievements he was elected Master of the American College of Rheumatology, and Master of the American College of Physicians.

During his career at the University of Washington Dr. Gilliland received numerous awards for his excellence in teaching. He was involved in teaching of medical students, residents and postdoctoral fellows. He loved to teach at the bedside the art of taking the history, the skills of physical examination, and the rigor of reaching an appropriate diagnosis. He achieved this with the patient listening to the teaching and the students and residents attentive and at ease. His contributions to teaching will survive in print and the skills he taught to students and residents will be passed on to new generations of students and residents. The academic community of the School of Medicine will miss Bruce Gilliland.

Bruce was a loving husband and father. With his family he enjoyed the great outdoors of the Northwest. His wife Maren, his daughters Jean and Anne Marie with their families, his son John, seven grandchildren, and his brothers Keith, Vincent and Victor survive him.

Mart Mannik, MD



Bruce Gilliland was an exceptionally gifted clinical rheumatologist, teacher and administrator. But above all, what distinguished Bruce was his grace, humanity and remarkable devotion to doing what he could to be of help.

Whether it was teaching a student, administrative duties in the Dean's office or treating patients late at night, Bruce exercised his talents in a characteristic quiet and unassuming manner. His unshakable optimism and generosity of time and spirit continued throughout his illness. He will be deeply missed by all (in the Division of Rheumatology).

Keith Elkon, MD



In 1998, the chief residents from Providence gave Bruce a fishing trip to Alaska. Of the group, at least 3 became rheumatologists (Drs. Brown, Overman and Vallente). In an email to me in October of 1998, Bob Vallente, now of the Arthritis Center of Nebraska, said it best: "Bruce was the major inspiration in my becoming a rheumatologist. I have always considered him my personal role model. I just wish I had his big hands, to lay on the patient, and provide as much comfort in that simple act as he always did." We will all miss Bruce.

Steve Overman, MD MPH



In our Friday afternoon clinic Dr. Gilliland and I took turns to buy each other's double shot non-fat latte, I always have to say to him "Dr. Gilliland, it is my turn this week".

Cong-Qiu, MD



Dr. Gilliland was a lofty role model. I was always awed by his rare combination of brilliance, humility, enthusiasm, sincerity, and kindness. In his audience, one always felt heard. His interest and concern in others was genuine and non-judgmental. He always amazed with his clinical acumen and his ability to walk into a patient’s room and at times, just inspecting their nails, he could rattle off a list of differential diagnoses. His life was an example for others and worth aspiring to that standard.

Naila Ahmad, MD.



I miss his laughter most of all. Bruce deeply enjoyed people and he loved to make them feel comfortable and happy. Whether it was with a patient, a student, or a colleague, his enjoyment of the interaction was transparent and infectious. Throughout his own illness, Bruce could be heard on the phone with his patients, checking to see that they were all right and sharing a laugh with them. At the same time, he was intensely competitive. In the Clinic, the principal opponent was always disease, but if he one-upped a colleague in the process, so much the better. At the bedside, on the court, or against a fish Bruce was in it to win. Now he is gone and we are the ones who have lost. We miss his internist perspective, his well founded advice, his companionship, and his laughter most of all.

Peter Simkin, MD



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