Gary S. Firestein, M.D.

University of California San Diego

Dr. Gary Firestein is director of the Clinical and Translational Research Institute, dean and associate vice chancellor of clinical and translational research and distinguished professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego. He joined the faculty as an assistant professor of medicine in 1988. Four years later, he was recruited by Gensia, Inc. to be director of immunology. At Gensia, he supervised drug discovery efforts, focusing on the potential role of purines in inflammation. In 1996, he returned to UC San Diego Health where he served as chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology from 1998 to 2010. Dr. Firestein’s research focuses on the pathogenesis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. He was among the first to map the cytokine profile of rheumatoid arthritis and demonstrate the dominance of macrophage and fibroblast products. These studies played a pivotal role in the development of highly effective anti-TNF and other anti-cytokine therapies for rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr. Firestein was chairperson of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Arthritis Advisory Committee and has served on the board of directors of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), the Rheumatology Research Foundation and the Veteran’s Medical Research Foundation. He has also served on the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) Advisory Council. He has been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.

Dr. Firestein received the Arthritis Foundation’s Jane Wyman Humanitarian Award in 2010 for his contributions to rheumatology. In 2006 and 2016, he received the Arthritis Foundation Lee C. Howley Sr. Prize for Arthritis Research and in 2009 received the American College of Rheumatology Distinguished Investigator Award. In 1998, he received the Carol-Nachman Prize, an international award given for outstanding contributions to rheumatology research. Dr. Firestein has written more than 350 articles and chapters and has edited and written several books. He served as the deputy editor of Arthritis & Rheumatism and is currently the editor-in-chief of Kelley and Firestein’s Textbook of Rheumatology.

Kevin Deane, M.D., Ph.D.

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Dr. Deane is currently a Rheumatologist and Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver. The main focus of his research on ‘Preclinical Rheumatoid Arthritis’ (Preclinical RA). Preclinical RA can be defined as the period of time in the development of RA before the onset of the first inflamed joint. Dr. Deane’s studies in Preclinical RA involve natural history studies of individuals at high-risk for future RA. These include family studies as well as studies of individuals identified with blood-based high-risk RA-related biomarkers identified through large-scale screening of general populations. In particular, Dr. Deane is Principal Investigator of the first RA prevention study in the USA. This study is called ‘StopRA’ and is funded by the NIH. It involves screening approximately 20,000 individuals to identify those with high-risk blood-based biomarkers for RA in absence of joint inflammation at baseline. These high-risk individuals are then further targeted with a preventive intervention. Dr. Deane also has a research interest in the early events that trigger RA-related autoimmunity. These studies include investigating processes in humans that may trigger early autoimmunity at mucosal surfaces in the lung, the gums, and elsewhere. The overall goal of Dr. Deane’s research is to add prevention as an actionable approach for RA as well as other autoimmune diseases. 

V. Michael Holers, M.D.

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Dr. Holers attended Purdue University and then Washington University School of Medicine. Following an internship and residency at Barnes Hospital, he was a Rheumatology Fellow at the University of Colorado, working with Dr. Brian Kotzin, and then a research postdoctoral fellow with John Atkinson at Washington University. After being appointed as Associate Professor at Washington University, he was recruited in 1993 to the University of Colorado to be the first Smyth Professor of Rheumatology. In 2000, Dr. Holers became Division Head of Rheumatology at the same institution and is currently Professor of Medicine and Immunology and the Scoville Professor of Rheumatology. The historical focus of the Holers Laboratory research efforts has been on the structure-function relationships and biologic roles of the complement system of the immune system, wherein he performed studies which led to the definition of key structure-function relationships, the development of molecular genetic tools, and understanding of the key in vivo roles of these proteins in the pathogenesis of murine models of human disease. The Holers Laboratory also co-developed and then commercialized the first injured tissue-directed complement therapeutics. More recently, Dr. Holers has moved a major focus of research activities to studying the natural history and pathogenesis of human rheumatoid arthritis (RA) prior to and immediately after the onset of clinically apparent arthritis, and paired that with mechanism-based murine studies. To advance this research area, he co-founded the SERA (Studies of the Etiology of Rheumatoid Arthritis) study, which is focused on mechanism-based and epidemiologic assessments of high-risk subject populations. These studies, in collaboration with Dr. Kevin Deane and others, have provided strong evidence for a mucosal origin of RA-related autoimmunity prior to the development of clinically apparent arthritis and identified several candidate immune processes as therapeutic targets.