Miss Russell was a major star of the 1940s-1960s. In addition to many Broadway shows, she appeared in such landmark films as The Women, His Girl Friday, Auntie Mame and Sister Kenny. When she was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis in 1969, she was stunned to find out how little was known about the causes of the disease and how few treatment options were available.
Despite failing health that effectively ended her career, Miss Russell took on arthritis as her personal cause. She accepted a presidential appointment to the National Commission on Arthritis (chaired by Rosalind Russell Medical Research Center Director Dr. Ephraim P. Engleman), which resulted in an ambitious national plan that revolutionized patient care, research and teaching related to arthritis.
Her son, Lance Brisson, currently serves on the board of directors of the Rosalind Russell Medical Research Center for Arthritis, as did her late husband, Frederick Brisson.
Over the years, with financial support from the Rosalind Russell Medical Research Center for Arthritis, UCSF scientists have made major contributions, including:
- Conducting groundbreaking laboratory research on the causes and mechanisms of arthritis.
- Establishing one of the nation's largest clinical trials centers for testing the many new treatments for arthritis and related autoimmune diseases coming out of research labs.
- Playing a role—often a leadership role—in the development of six new arthritis drugs approved by the FDA within the past ten years.
- Producing some of the most important new knowledge about the links between genetics and rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other autoimmune diseases.
- Training more than 125 physicians to become leaders in the field of rheumatology and arthritis laboratory research.
Taken together, this work has helped countless patients with arthritis worldwide. It is also a part of Miss Russell's rich legacy.
Despite failing health that effectively ended her career, Miss Russell took on arthritis as her personal cause.