Another negative impact was the dissolution of the division into two nascent sections in 1995: Allergy/Immunology and Rheumatology. As expected, this decision led to poor advancement of the two academic units and the negative outcome that allergist/immunologists were no longer being trained. So what next?
Looking to the Future
Under the new leadership of Dr. Vincent Yang, chairman of the Department of Medicine, a gastroenterologist-scientist, rebuilding of the division has started with leadership support.
In August 2015, Qingping Yao, MD, PhD, was recruited from the Cleveland Clinic to head the Division of Rheumatology. Dr. Yao, a medical school graduate in China, served as rheumatologist and associate professor of medicine at Peking Union Medical College Hospital in the early 1990s. After training in internal medicine and rheumatology at UCLA in the U.S., Dr. Yao served as a senior rheumatologist from 2008 until 2015 and founding director of the Clinic for Adult Autoinflammatory Diseases at the Cleveland Clinic. Having been in his position at Stony Brook University several months now, Dr. Yao has already laid out a solid plan to rebuild and expand the combined Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology.
A Center for Autoinflammatory Diseases has been created to provide specialized care and research for patients with periodic fever syndromes. New recruitment is underway for full-time rheumatologists and allergists/immunologists.
As a prominent researcher in the field of autoinflammatory diseases, Dr. Yao has a vested interest in translational research, as does Dr. Ghebrehiwet—the only “survivor” of the founding members of the old division. Dr. Ghebrehiwet is an internationally renowned expert in the study of complement in such diseases as systemic lupus erythematosus, allergic diseases and malignancy.
Although the glory days of the old division are behind us, there is ample opportunity to rebuild the division so that it can, once again, well fulfill the academic missions it was established to serve: patient care, teaching and research. We hope we can forge a strong team under the current leadership and realize our goals.
Berhane Ghebrehiwet, DVM, DSc, is an immunologist and professor of medicine and pathology. He is one of the founding members of the Division of Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology at SUNY and has devoted most of his scientific career to unraveling the traditional and non-traditional functions of C1q, with particular emphasis on the role of C1q and its receptors in infection, autoimmune diseases (e.g., SLE and angioedema) and proliferative malignancies.
Qingping Yao, MD, PhD, is a rheumatologist and the program director and chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology. His research interest is in autoinflammatory diseases/periodic fever syndromes, and he is credited with the discovery of a new syndrome, termed NOD2-associated autoinflammatory disease.