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Deborah Dyett Desir, MD '80, Elected President of American College of Rheumatology

November 16, 2023
by Melanie Ho

Deborah Dyett Desir, MD, was inducted president of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) during its annual meeting on November 14, 2023.

“I am honored to be elected president of an international society representing more than 8,500 health professionals in my specialty,” said Desir, associate professor of clinical medicine (rheumatology).

In her upcoming year as president, Desir sets out to achieve the following goals for the society:

  • Advance the careers of women in rheumatology leadership positions
  • Enhance ACR resources for members in solo and small private practices
  • Advocate for increased innovative research funding
  • Support the ACR’s successful advocacy efforts at local, state, and federal levels
  • Ensure the fiscal health of the College
  • Continue the integration of DEI efforts throughout the ACR’s initiatives, programs, and projects

Desir will become the ACR’s first African American president, and the first woman of color. She has advocated for diversity in the medical workforce and healthcare equity. “I am committed to address existing health disparities and examine the role of implicit bias and institutional racism in health outcomes,” she said.

When asked what the promotion to president meant to her, she said, “It is a great honor to serve as president of this illustrious organization. It is particularly meaningful to me as an African American. My father became a physician in the 1950s, a time when African American physicians could not join the American Medical Association or their local and state associations.”

She has served on the ACR executive committee for three years, two years as secretary and another as president-elect. Also, she has volunteered as a member on the ACR’s Board of Directors, the Government Affairs committee, the Finance committee, Ethics Committee, and alternate advisor to the Relative Value Update Committee of the American Medical Association.

Desir brings to the ACR more than three decades of experience in clinical medicine. In 1993, she started a rheumatology private practice in Hamden, Conn., which grew to include two satellite clinics in Branford and Milford. In 2019, Desir joined the Yale School of Medicine faculty and serves as the medical director of the Yale rheumatology clinic in Hamden. In addition, she was the president of the New Haven County Medical Association in 2020, and is a member of the Council of the Connecticut State Medical Society and its Board of Directors. In June 2023, Desir joined the Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center Foundation Board of Directors. In this role, she contributes her expertise and resources to help advance the community health center’s mission of serving underinsured populations in New Haven, Conn.

The Department of Internal Medicine at Yale School of Medicine is among the nation's premier departments, bringing together an elite cadre of clinicians, investigators, educators, and staff in one of the world's top medical schools. To learn more, visit Internal Medicine.

Submitted by Julie Parry on November 16, 2023