Q: What motivated your research focus?
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A: I had worked on lupus during my postdoc and wanted to do something different from my mentor, so I spent several years studying B cells in human rheumatoid arthritis. There was not as much understanding of the importance of B cells in rheumatoid arthritis at that time. However, there were a number of investigators in the rheumatology community that had difficulty obtaining research funding for looking at the role of B cells in rheumatoid arthritis, because funds were very tight at that time and the general feel was that B cells were not important—which turns out, ironically, to have completely turned around now.
Q: What do you see as the practical application of your work?
A: We would like to continue to translate mechanisms that we learn of in the animal models to a better understanding of human disease and better use of therapeutics. Obviously it’s all very well to study a mouse, but the most important part of this is to translate what is relevant from that work to the human diseases.
Q: What’s more important: awards or grants?
A: Awards are very nice, but grants are more important. The ACR has done a tremendous amount to support research in the community, and without the Rheumatology Research Foundation and without the foundations that support lupus research, we just wouldn’t be able to keep going.
Richard Quinn is a freelance writer in New Jersey.