National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, has selected Lindsey A. Criswell, MD, MPH, DSc, as director of NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). A rheumatologist, Dr. Criswell is currently the vice chancellor of research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She is a professor of rheumatology in UCSF’s Department of Medicine, as well as a professor of orofacial sciences in its School of Dentistry. She is expected to begin her new role as the NIAMS director in early 2021. She will succeed long-time director Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., who passed away suddenly in December 2018.
“Dr. Criswell has rich experience as a clinician, researcher and administrator. Her ability to oversee the research program of one of the country’s top research-intensive medical schools, and her expertise in autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, make her well-positioned to direct NIAMS,” says Dr. Collins. “I look forward to having her join the NIH leadership team early next year. I also want to thank Robert H. Carter, MD, for his exemplary work as the acting director of NIAMS since December 2018.”
As NIAMS director, Dr. Criswell will oversee the institute’s annual budget of nearly $625 million, which supports research into the causes, treatment and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases. The institute advances health through biomedical and behavioral research, research training and dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases.
The NIAMS Division of Extramural Research supports scientific studies and research training and career development throughout the country through grants and contracts to research organizations in fields that include rheumatology, muscle biology, orthopaedics, bone and mineral metabolism and dermatology. NIAMS-supported research addresses some of the most common and disabling chronic diseases that affect almost every household in America.
Dr. Criswell has been a principal investigator on multiple NIH grants since 1994 and has published more than 200 peer-reviewed journal papers. Her research focuses on the genetics and epidemiology of human autoimmune disease, particularly rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. Using genome-wide association and other genetic studies, her research team contributed to the identification of more than 30 genes linked to these disorders.
Dr. Criswell’s many honors include the Kenneth H. Fye, MD, endowed chair in rheumatology and the Jean S. Engleman Distinguished Professorship in Rheumatology at UCSF, and the Henry Kunkel Young Investigator Award from the American College of Rheumatology. She also received UCSF’s 2014 Resident Clinical and Translational Research Mentor of the Year. During her career, she has mentored some four-dozen students (high school through medical/graduate school), medical residents, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty.