Q: What does being a RheumPAC committee member mean to you?
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Explore This IssueDecember 2013
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A: The sarcastic answer is I get to hang out with some really cool people. Being on the RheumPAC committee has been exceptional. I’ve always been willing to talk to legislators and push the College’s goals for people with rheumatologic diseases.
Q: What does an award for service mean to a veteran clinician?
A: It’s an incredible honor. The folks in the trenches, as a rule, don’t get as much recognition. To have your peers say what you have done is special is an amazing thing.
ACR Henry Kunkel Young Investigator Award
Chyi-Song Hsieh, MD, PhD
Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Professor in Rheumatology and Associate Professor of Medicine, Pathology, and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Mo.
Background: Dr. Hsieh joined the faculty at Washington University in 2005 and this summer was appointed to the Wolff Professorship in Rheumatology. His research laboratory includes eight graduate students and two technicians—but he’s quick to point out he’s never had a postdoctoral fellow.
“That keeps it very fresh and young,” he says. “At the same time, graduate students tend to have a warm-up period, where they are not especially productive. That can be frustrating, but that also is really fun to watch and see them develop. They bring an incredible amount of energy to the lab.”
Dr. Hsieh graduated from the University of Chicago and earned his medical degree and doctorate from Washington University. He completed his residency, fellowship, and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington in Seattle. His interest in T-cell differentiation began early in his research career. As a graduate student, he demonstrated the role of IL-12 induced by bacterial products in T helper 1–cell differentiation. As a postdoctoral fellow, he showed that T-cell receptor specificity is important for the development of regulatory T cells. “The thing that was a revelation to me is that normally you think of T cells as sitting around waiting for bad guys to come … then they get activated and attack them,” he says. “But they are generated in the body and they are required to prevent spontaneous autoimmune disease. So, essentially, they are a negative force on activation of the immune system.”
Q: What are the long-term goals of your research?
A: We are trying to understand how these cells develop, and trying to figure out whether or not we can harness these cells to treat autoimmune disease. I think that involves knowing how to recognize the cells and the signals that cause their development.