Scientific Advisors

David Brenner, M.D. a distinguished physician-scientist, is Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of the school of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, since February 1, 2007. In this role, Dr. Brenner leads the UC San Diego School of Medicine, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, UCSD Medical Center and UCSD Medical Group. He was recruited to UC San Diego from the Columbia University Medical Center College of Physicians and Surgeons, where from 2003-2007 he was Samuel Bard Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine, a Member of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, a Member of the Columbia University Institute of Nutrition, and Physician-in-Chief of New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia.

He earned his M.D. from the Yale University School of Medicine. After completing his residency at Yale-New Haven Medical Center, he served as a research associate in the Genetics and Biochemistry Branch of the National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Brenner first joined UC San Diego in 1985 as a Gastroenterology Fellow, later joining the medical school faculty, and serving as a physician at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System. In 1993 he became Professor and Chief of the Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Brenner is a leader in the field of gastroenterolocial research, specializing in diseases of the liver. For five years he was Editor-in-Chief of Gastroenterology, the premier journal in the field. The overall theme of his research has been the translation of basic molecular biological principles to the molecular pathophysiology of liver diseases. Over his 15 years as an independent investigator, Dr. Brenner's research has developed into three general areas: the molecular defect in protoporphyria, intracellular signaling in hepatic proliferation and apoptosis, and hepatic fibrosis.

Jeremy Duffield MD, PhD, directs the Laboratory of Inflammation Research at the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is a member of the Nephrology Division and practices Nephrology and Internal Medicine at UW Medicine. He has held an adjunct position in Immunology since 2007. Jeremy received his undergraduate degree, majoring in Developmental Biology, in 1989 and his MD from Oxford University in 1992. He trained in Internal Medicine at Edinburgh University and completed his PhD in Macrophage Biology in 2001. He completed subspecialty training in Nephrology in the UK then worked at Harvard Medical School from 2003 - 2010, studying the role of macrophages in inflammation and fibrosis. He directs an international research laboratory focused on functions of macrophages and mechanisms of action, teaches, and practices nephrology part-time. Dr. Duffield has established a key role for macrophages in both the development of fibrosis and normal resolution of fibrosis. Current research interests include defining functional subpopulations of macrophages in kidney inflammation and repair, WNT signaling in inflammation and fibrosis, molecular mechanisms of phagocytosis in tissue repair. He has recently described kidney pericytes of the peritubular capillaries as precursors of scar forming myofibroblasts and is studying the role of pericytes in microvascular integrity and angiogenesis.

Jack Elias, M.D., currently the Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, was named Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, effective October 1, 2006. Dr. Elias received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and was an intern and resident at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston. He returned to Penn as a senior resident and completed fellowships there in both Allergy and Immunology and in Pulmonary Medicine. Dr. Elias came to Yale in 1990 as Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Disease, Allergy and Immunology and Critical Care Medicine. He has established an international reputation for pioneering work on asthma, COPD and pulmonary fibrosis.

Richard Gomer, Ph.D., received a B.A. degree in Physics from Pomona College and a Ph.D. in Biology from the California Institute of Technology. He did postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Gomer joined the Rice University faculty in 1988 and was a HHMI investigator there for 15 years. In 2010, he moved to Texas A&M University where he is a Professor of Biology. His research accomplishments include finding that a cell-cycle dependent musical chairs mechanism regulates initial cell-type choice in Dictyostelium development, identifying and purifying several eukaryotic cell-density (quorum) sensing factors, developing shotgun antisense as a genetic tool, and elucidating the physics and biochemistry of a morphogenetic rearrangement in Dictyostelium. He also has designed and built detector and data systems for astrophysics research. A chance meeting with Darrell Pilling led to the discovery of the regulatory mechanisms of fibrocyte differentiation and their role in fibrotic pathology.

Darrell Pilling, Ph.D., received his Ph.D. from the Department of Rheumatology at the University of Birmingham in England. His thesis focused on immunological memory and surface markers expressed on T cells that were able to distinguish naive T cells, T cells that were recently activated, and long-term memory T cells. During his post-doctoral training as an ARC Research Fellow at Birmingham University, Dr. Pilling was able to identify that type I interferon secreted by fibroblasts prevents leukocytes from dying in the joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. His research interests are focused on the basis of leukocyte accumulation and retention at sites of inflammation and fibrosis, and in particular the role of fibrocytes. In 2002 he moved to Rice University, where in collaboration with Richard Gomer, Ph.D., they identified proteins that inhibit fibrocyte differentiation in vitro, and fibrosis in vivo. In 2010, he moved to Texas A&M University where he is a Research Assistant Professor.

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