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Noel Rose, MD, PhD


If sixty years of uninterrupted support from the National Institutes of Health is not the longest grant on record, it must be an awfully close second. But then, Noel Rose is no ordinary scientist—his pioneering studies on autoimmune thyroiditis in the 1950s helped to initiate the modern era of research on autoimmune disease. His team has continued to make major breakthroughs in revealing the genetic, infectious, and environmental factors that increase risk for autoimmune disease and trigger its onset. In 1999, Rose became the founding director of the Johns Hopkins Autoimmune Disease Research Center, which coordinates and promotes clinical and basic science research on at least 80 known autoimmune diseases that attack every system in the body.

Rose is also no ordinary donor. As chair of the JHSPH Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases (now the W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology) for 13 years, Rose gained an inside knowledge of how transformative private support can be. When he arrived in 1981, the department had a significant deficit and no endowment. Rose quickly learned the art of fundraising, and by the time he stepped down as chair in 1994, he had built an endowment of over $800,000. Rose took to heart the adage “charity begins at home,” and became his own first donor. He began to give all the proceeds of his medical-legal consulting to JHSPH. With the compensation for his years of service on the advisory board of a pharmaceutical and biological company, Rose could have bought a yacht, but he and his wife Deborah maintained their sensible lifestyle and became major JHSPH donors.

When asked why he has committed so much of his own resources to JHSPH, Rose replied, “I’m just madly in love with the school. It’s a truly humanitarian institution—there’s not that many of those in our world. I have great respect for the dedication of the people who work here.” As Rose’s own work in autoimmune disease has demonstrated, JHSPH places a high premium on discovering the science of public health, not just applying it. But in order to keep making new discoveries that can protect the lives and health of millions, we need the help of donors like Noel and Deborah Rose.

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