Bruce Zuraw, MD, Is New Chief of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology Division


From Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD
Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor
Chair of the Department of Medicine

I am pleased to announce that an internal review committee has selected Dr. Bruce Zuraw as the new chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology in the Department of Medicine. He is also inaugural holder of the US Hereditary Angioedema Association (HAEA) Endowed Chair.

I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Robert Terkeltaub, who accepted the role of interim division chief after Dr. Gary Firestein stepped down in June 2010. In leading the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology for the past three years, Dr. Terkeltaub has done an important service for the division and the department.

Bruce L. Zuraw, MD, professor of medicine, is Director of the Section of Allergy and Immunology at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System and head of the Allergy & Immunology section of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology at UC San Diego. He directs the Allergy and Immunology Fellowship Program.

Dr. Zuraw is a highly respected clinician, researcher and thought leader in the field of allergy and immunology and an internationally recognized expert in hereditary angioedema. He chairs the Medical Advisory Board of the US Hereditary Angioedema Association (HAEA) and will direct the newly established US HAEA Angioedema Center at UC San Diego.

Dr. Zuraw joined the faculty of the UC San Diego School of Medicine in 2004 after many years as a fellow, clinician, researcher and leader at Scripps Clinic & Research Foundation and The Scripps Research Institute.

He was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, and received his undergraduate degree in biology from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, in 1972. He earned his M.D. degree and completed his internal medicine residency training at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Illinois.

Dr. Zuraw received his fellowship training and established his research and clinical career in allergy and immunology at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation and The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla. There, he rose to the rank of associate professor in the Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine and held a number of leadership positions, including director of the Allergy & Immunology Fellowship Training Program, associate director of the General Clinical Research Center and director of research for the Scripps Internal Medicine Residency Program.

Dr. Zuraw has been very active in service to the University and the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System. In addition to his divisional and educational program leadership positions, he has chaired the VA Research Space Committee and served on the DOMCAP Committee. He is currently on the VA Research Information Security Subcommittee and the Intern Selection Committee of the UCSD Internal Medicine Residency Program.

In his research, Dr. Zuraw is a highly respected investigator in the area of allergic inflammation in humans, with particular attention to hereditary angioedema, and the mechanism of action of glucocorticoids. He is principal investigator of a number of basic and clinical research projects including major projects funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and the VA Merit program. He has published more than 120 peer-reviewed articles and nearly 50 invited reviews and book chapters.

Please join me in giving your enthusiastic support to Dr. Bruce Zuraw in his new position of leadership in the Department of Medicine.

In Memoriam: Virgil L. Woods, Jr., MD

Virgil L. Woods, Jr., MD
1948 – 2012

Dr. Virgil L. Woods, Jr.Virgil L. Woods, Jr., MD, pioneer in the field of proteomics and beloved teacher and clinician who spent his academic career at UC San Diego, died September 30 after an illness. He was 64 years old.

“We are very saddened at the loss of our colleague and friend,” said Wolfgang Dillmann, MD, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine.

Dr. Woods was professor of medicine in Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology.

“He was an enthusiastic clinician and teacher, and brought a high level of energy and critical thinking skills to the teaching and clinical programs in rheumatology at UCSD,” said Robert A. Terkeltaub, MD (below), professor of medicine and interim chief of the division.

Robert Terkeltaub, MD“He was very generous in his service roles. He will be greatly missed in our program, on both a personal and professional level. He was truly one of a kind.”

“Virgil Woods was a gifted scientist, an outstanding clinician, a generous colleague, and an enthusiastic teacher,” said Mark H. Ginsberg, MD (below), colleague of Dr. Woods and a fellow rheumatologist.

Dr. Ginsberg is professor of medicine in the divisions of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology and Hematology-Oncology and director of the UCSD Physician-Scientist Training Program.

“Virgil was an active and engaged rheumatologist,” he said.

Dr. Mark Ginsberg“He taught his subspecialty and particularly relished working on the front lines of inpatient medicine as an academic hospitalist. In this role he assumed responsibility for acutely ill patients with a wide spectrum of conditions and was a major resource for young physicians.

“Virgil was always willing to share the clinical work load with his colleagues and was unfailingly generous in making time to teach fellows, residents, and students,” Ginsberg said.

In addition to his teaching activities within the Department of Medicine, Dr. Woods was a faculty member in the UCSD Biomedical Sciences and Bioinformatics and Systems Biology graduate programs.

“He was a fountain of clinical and research wisdom,” Dr. Ginsberg said, “and his untimely death is a loss to the UCSD community.”

Dr. Woods was a highly respected and productive physician-scientist. “Virgil was one of the first to use monoclonal antibodies to examine the functional role of platelet cell surface receptors,” Dr. Ginsberg said.

“In doing so, he raised some of the earliest antibodies that blocked the function of platelet integrins, antibodies that were prototypes for agents in current use in the clinic in a spectrum of diseases including multiple sclerosis and arterial thrombosis.”

In recent years, his research centered upon structural biology applications of an advanced proteomics technology.

“Virgil had a dream to use mapping of amino acids that were protected from chemical modification as a means to assess protein folding and identify sites involved in protein-protein interactions,” said Dr. Ginsberg. “With the advent of modern high-resolution protein mass spectroscopy, it was possible to analyze deuterium exchange of whole proteins as a means to study their higher order structure,” he said.

“Virgil’s singular contribution was to develop methods to proteolytically cleave proteins into peptides under conditions that prevented further deuterium exchange. This enabled him to map the accessibility of individual peptides in a folded protein, a technique called peptide amide hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (DXMS).”

In the following years, Dr. Woods and his colleagues refined the DXMS method, increasing its resolution and applying it in an expanding range of protein studies.

“His techniques have found wide applicability in the study of protein structures in the Structural Genomics Initiative and have been used around the world to assess protein-protein interactions,” Dr. Ginsberg said.

The work resulted in seven patents and earned considerable funding from the National Institutes of Health and other sources. Dr. Woods was the UCSD Technology Transfer Office’s Fall 2012 “Featured Pioneer.”

Dr. Woods directed the DXMS Proteomics Resource at UCSD and was actively collaborating with researchers at UCSD, The Scripps Research Institute, the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, the Salk Institute and other institutions in the United States and abroad.

“Virgil’s scientific achievements spring directly from his vision, dedication, and perseverance,” said Dr. Ginsberg. “He had a true scientific ‘green thumb.’ He could make things work when many others had tried and failed.”

Dr. Woods received his undergraduate training at UC San Francisco (BS, medical sciences) and UCSD (BA, biochemistry) and his MD degree at UC San Francisco. After interning and completing his residency at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, he came to UCSD as a rheumatology fellow in 1979.

He joined the Department of Medicine faculty when he completed his fellowship in 1981, and served UCSD for 31 years.

“Virgil was an outstanding colleague and faculty member by being an exceptional clinician, enthusiastic teacher and highly creative scientist,” said Dr. Dillmann.

Dr. Woods is survived by his wife, Betsy, and three children; his parents; and three brothers.
Profile of Dr. Woods

UCSD Press Releases About His Work

Dr. Gary Firestein Steps Down as Chief of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology; Dr. Robert Terkeltaub Named Interim Chief

Dr. Gary Firestein

Dr. Gary Firestein

Dr. Gary Firestein will step down as Chief of the Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology division as of July 1, announced Dr. Ken Kaushansky, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and outgoing Chair of the Department of Medicine.

Dr. Firestein, who has been chief of the division since 1998, is making the move because of the increasing demands of his leadership responsibilities as Dean of Translational Medicine and Director of the Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) for UCSD Health Sciences.

“During the last 12 years, the division grew dramatically in both accomplishments and international visibility. This is due entirely to the incredibly creative faculty, our outstanding trainees, and the dedicated staff,” said Dr. Firestein.

“I want to express my thanks to Dr. Firestein for being such an outstanding division leader for the past 12 years,” said Dr. Kaushansky. “Under Gary’s leadership, the division has continued to grow and prosper in all three of its missions: research, education, and clinical care.

“The division has gone from unranked to a consistent top-20 ranking in the ‘America’s Best Hospitals’ list from U.S.News & World Report,” he said. “Its research portfolio has grown to be generally among the largest in the department.”

“Gary has also overseen the creation and expansion of the Center for Innovative Therapy as a model for translational medicine and helped bring in supporting program project grants,” Dr. Kaushansky said.

These include the NIH-funded Specialized Centers of Research program on rheumatoid arthritis, the Rheumatic Diseases Core Center grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), and a new NIAMS Ruth L. Kirschstein T32 Training Grant to support research training in rheumatic diseases.

“Gary has also recruited a number of very successful research-oriented faculty into the Rheumatology and Allergy/Immunology sections,” Dr. Kaushansky said. “The division’s clinical mission has expanded to include a novel multidisciplinary clinic with the Department of Orthopaedics.

Dr. Robert Terkeltaub

Dr. Robert Terkeltaub

Dr. Robert A. Terkeltaub, Professor of Medicine, will serve as Interim Chief. For most of the last decade, Dr. Terkeltaub has served as Associate Director of the division and Director of the Rheumatology Training Program.

He has been Chief of the Rheumatology Section at the VA San Diego Healthcare System since 1985.

“I’m grateful to Dr. Robert Terkeltaub for agreeing to serve in the interim role,” said Dr. Kaushansky. “I know he will carry on the rich tradition of the division.”

“Dr. Terkeltaub is an outstanding physician-scientist who has played an integral role in the division’s success. We are truly grateful that he agreed to take on this new responsibility,” said Dr. Firestein.

“I look forward to helping the division through the transition period and into the future,” Dr. Terkeltaub said.

“We are very proud of our faculty and their accomplishments,” he said. “We want to ensure that the clinical programs remain strong and the clinical, translational, and basic research from our very accomplished faculty members grows in breadth, quality, and scope.”

Another goal, he said, is to increase the division’s interaction with other Department of Medicine divisions, including the three newest – Geriatrics, Global Public Health, and Biomedical Informatics.

About Dr. Terkeltaub

Dr. Terkeltaub received his M.D. degree and completed his internship, residency, and fellowship at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. From 1981 to 1984, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Ginsberg at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla.

He spent the following year as a research associate at The Scripps Research Institute before he joined the UCSD faculty as Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology and Chief of the Rheumatology Section at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

Dr. Terkeltaub has served on numerous study sections for the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the Arthritis National Research Foundation, and other organizations. He is currently Associate Editor of the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.

As an investigator, Dr. Terkeltaub studies the interfaces of inflammation with skeletal and vascular biology, focusing on arthritis and vascular diseases, including infantile artery calcification, gout, and osteoarthritis. At the VA and UCSD, his lab discovered the molecular etiology of generalized artery calcification of infancy, and has done seminal research on innate immunity in gout, and on cartilage innate immunity and chondrocyte hypertrophy in osteoarthritis.

About Dr. Firestein

Dr. Gary Firestein first joined the UCSD Department of Medicine faculty in 1988 as Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology.

He spent 1992 through 1996 as Senior Director of Immunology for Gensia, Inc, and returned to UCSD as Associate Professor of Medicine in 1996. He was promoted to Professor of Medicine in 1998, when he was also appointed division chief.

On a personal note, Dr. Kaushansky said, “Gary was the only person I knew at UCSD when I started interviewing for the position here. We collaborated on a couple of papers back in our formative days.”

Those days were in the late 1980s, when Dr. Kaushansky was Assistant Professor in the Division of Hematology at the University of Washington and the younger Dr. Firestein was Assistant Professor in the Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology division here at UCSD.

The two papers reported some of Dr. Firestein’s earliest work, with his mentor and then-division chief Dr. Nathan Zvaifler, on the presence of pro-inflammatory mediators in the synovial fluid of rheumatoid arthritis patients.

In the following years, Dr. Firestein’s basic science studies would open the way for the development of anti-cytokine agents as the first broadly effective treatments for rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr. Firestein was founding director of the UCSD Clinical Investigation Institute, a responsibility that has evolved into his current role as Director of the Clinical and Translational Research Institute.

He was appointed Dean of Translational Medicine for UCSD Health Sciences in 2008.

In the Media: Dr. Robert Terkeltaub

Dr. Robert Terkeltaub is featured in the segment “Gout Prevention” in the Information Television Network series, Healthy Body, Healthy Mind.

Robert Terkeltaub, Ph.D., is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy, and Immunology at UCSD and Chief of the Rheumatology Section at the Veterans Administration San Diego Healthcare System.