Training at the NIH makes you part of an illustrious tradition of physician-researchers who have come before you. Alumni of the NIH Rheumatology Fellowship Program, and more senior guest researchers and scholars, have gone on to positions of leadership in academic rheumatology, regulatory agencies, and industry around the world.

NIH alumni and friends gather annually at the American College of Rheumatology meeting at an event sponsored by the John Decker Society, an association of our alumni.

Featured Alumni

Dan Kastner, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Kastner is a distinguished investigator in the Division of Intramural Research of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). Throughout his career at the NIH, Dr. Kastner's research has focused on understanding inherited inflammation disorders. His group also proposed the now widely accepted overarching concept of autoinflammatory disease to denote disorders of the evolutionarily ancient innate branch of the human immune system. Dr. Kastner has won many awards and honors, including election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2010 and the National Academy of Medicine in 2012. In 2018 he was recognized as Federal Employee of the Year and received the Ross Prize in Molecular Medicine in 2019.

Leslie Crofford, M.D.
Dr. Crofford was a NIAMS Rheumatology Fellow from 1989 to 1993, where she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Ronald Wilder. Dr. Crofford is currently a Professor of Medicine and a Professor of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. She is an active member of the American College of Rheumatology where she sat on the Board of Directors, and she is a past President of the Rheumatology Research and Education Foundation.

"I learned what it meant to be a translational scientist by keeping the focus on our patients while engaged in basic and clinical discovery."

Robert Kimberly, M.D.
Dr. Kimberly was a Fellow in the Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch in the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) prior to the fellowship establishment in the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). Following his Fellowship, he became a Professor of Medicine at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and in 1996 became the Division of Rheumatology Director at the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB). Dr. Kimberly is the current Howard Holley Chair of Medicine Director of the UAB Comprehensive Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Autoimmunity Center and the Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Research in the UAB School of Medicine.

Grant Louie, M.D.
Dr. Louie was a NIAMS Rheumatology Fellow from 2005 to 2010 where he investigated rheumatology outcomes in the Clinical Trials and Outcomes Branch with Dr. Michael Ward. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.

The John Decker Society

The John Decker Society meets annually during the American College of Rheumatology’s Annual Scientific meeting.

The John Decker Society is comprised of present and former faculty and trainees of the Rheumatology Fellowship Training Program at the NIH. By its name, the John Decker Society reveres the legacy of Dr. John Decker, whose tradition of excellence in research, training, and dedication to service helped shape the NIAMS that we know today.

To learn more about the legacy of Dr. John Decker, read "In Memoriam - John L. Decker, M.D., 1921-2000" written by Dr. Paul Plotz and published in the journal Arthritis Rheumatism (2001, Vol. 44(9) pp.1975-6).

The NIAMS has longstanding partnerships with other institutes at the NIH where research related to rheumatology is taking place. A joint program in autoinflammatory disease is run in collaboration with Dr. Dan Kastner's group in the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). Collaborations with the NIDDK on the pathogenesis and treatment of lupus nephritis have been ongoing for many years. Studies on the pathogenesis of inflammatory muscle disease are ongoing in collaboration with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Fellows and advanced trainees are also encouraged to look for faculty mentorship outside the NIAMS as their interests dictate.


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