The Rheumatology Unit in Ioannina was created at the beginning of the 1980’s together with the establishment of the Department of Internal Medicine of the Medical School of the University of Ioannina. Patients were treated on the wards of the old ‘G.Hatzikostas’ Hospital along with the patients of the Internal Medicine Clinic. Director of the Department of Internal Medicine was Prof. H.M.Moutsopoulos. His expertise in autoimmune rheumatic diseases resulted in the influx of patients from various districts of Greece, seeking for diagnosis and treatment of often complex medical situations. So by early 1981 the Rheumatology Out-patient Department had begun its function with the services of Professor Moutsopoulos and his two trainees in internal medicine, Dr A.A.Drosos and Dr F.Skopouli. Simultaneously the immunology research laboratory started functioning with the collection of patients’ serum for the carrying out of special immunological tests. Originally the laboratory was installed in two areas at the old ‘G.Hatzikostas’ hospital installations at the Molos area of Ioannina, while later more space were added, as the laboratory expanded. In this endeavour the microbiology consultant Dr. A.Mavridis with the assistance of three medical students, A.Tzioufas, M.Manousakis and P.Vlachoyiannopoulos, formed the first immunology laboratory team.
In 1983 the immunology laboratory received recognition as a referral centre for the diagnosis and treatment of AIDS. In 1983 a post for a trainee in rheumatology was created which was then occupied by Dr A.A.Drosos. As Dr. Drosos was already a specialist in internal medicine this post was honorary/unpaid.
In 1985 Mrs C.Garalea was employed as a technician at the laboratory.
In 1986 Dr Drosos was appointed junior consultant in rheumatology and the trainee rheumatologist position was given to Vasiliki Galanopoulou. Dr A.Andonopoulos was appointed director of the Rheumatology Department. Additionally two more trainees in rheumatology were employed and thus for the period 1987-1988 the structure of the Rheumatology Department was as following: Director of the Department of Internal Medicine (part of which was also the Rheumatology Department) -Prof. H.M.Moutsopoulos, Director of the Department of Rheumatology- Dr A.Andonopoulos, consultant in rheumatology -Dr A.A.Drosos, lecturer in internal medicine- F.Skopouli, as well as four trainees in rheumatology.
In 1989 an independent Rheumatology Department was established following a governmental decision and in 1990 the department was transferred to the new installations of the University Hospital of Ioannina followed by the immunology laboratory which was transferred to the new University installations.
In 1991 Dr A.Andonopoulos left for Patra and Prof. Moutsopoulos was elected professor of the University of Athens, thus leaving the University of Ioannina by the end of 1993.
During this period Drs Skopouli, Tzioufas, Vlachoyiannopoulos and Manousakis also left.
Thus from 1994 only Dr A.A.Drosos, Assistant Professor in Internal Medicine/ Rheumatology remained at the Rheumatology Department with four trainee rheumatologists.
Dr. A.A. Drosos was elected Professor of Internal Medicine/Rheumatology in 2000 and Dr. P.V. Voulgari was elected lecturer of rheumatology in 2002, Assistant Professor of rheumatology in 2007 and Associate Professor of Rheumatology in 2012. Dr. Fotini Karassa was elected Lecturer of Rheumatology in 2010.
Ιn January 2017, Mrs. P.V.Voulgari was elected Professor of Rheumatology and in September 2017 she took over the Management of Rheumatology Clinic. In August 2017, Mr. A.A. Drossos retired and became an Emeritus Professor of Pathology/Rheumatology.
In 1995 Mrs Eleni Horti was appointed secretary of the Rheumatology Department. In 2001 Mr Spyridon Voulgaris was also appointed secretary of the Rheumatology Department.
From the staff that has already been mentioned, Dr Andonopoulos is now Professor of Medicine/ Rheumatology at the University of Patras, Dr Skopouli is Professor of Medicine/ Immunology at the Harokopio University of Athens, Dr Mavridis is Professor of Microbiology at the University of Ioannina, Dr Tzioufas is Professor of Rheumatology/ Immunology at the University of Athens, Dr Vlachoyiannopoulos is Professor of Medicine/ Immunology at the University of Athens and Dr. Manousakis is Assistant Professor of Medicine/ Immunology at the University of Athens. Mrs Garalea, Mrs Spyrou, Mrs Horti and Mr Voulgaris are employees of the University of Ioannina.