Scientific Advisors and Principal Investigators

Scientific Advisors

Dr. Michael R. Knowles is a Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care medicine at the University of North Carolina. He has over three decades of clinical research experience that spans across the disciplines of biology, physiology, and design of clinical trials in both the academic and private sectors. He is currently the head of two large multicenter studies: 1) Genetic Modifiers of Disease phenotype (severity) in cystic fibrosis lung and liver disease, which also includes a recently formed International Consortium doing a whole genome scan; and 2) a Consortium with 8 sites in North America to study rare genetic disorders of mucociliary clearance. He received his B.A. and M.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, completed his Residency in Internal Medicine at Duke University, Durham, NC, and finished his Fellowship in pulmonary diseases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Knowles has authored over 100 papers over the course of his career.

Dr. George Kunos is the Scientific Director at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Chief of the Laboratory of Physiologic Studies. Dr. Kunos' current research is focused on the biology of endocannabinoids, particularly their role in the regulation of metabolism, cardiovascular functions and appetitive behavior, including alcohol drinking behavior. Prior to joining the NIH as Scientific Director in 2000, Dr. Kunos served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. He previously held the role as Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine at McGill University.

Dr. Kunos received his M.D. from Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary and a Ph.D. in pharmacology from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He is an elected Fellow of the American Heart Association and a foreign member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Charles N. Serhan is the first Endowed Distinguished Scientist at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and since 1995 has served as Director of the Center for Experimental Therapeutics and Reperfusion Injury (CET&RI) at BWH. He is a full Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, is affiliated with its Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, and is also the Simon Gelman Professor of Anesthesia, Perioperative and Pain Medicine (Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology) at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Oral Medicine, Infection and Immunity at Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Serhan is a leading authority in inflammatory resolution and was the first to identify the role of anti-inflammatory cellular mediators such as resolvins and lipoxins in the pro-inflammatory pathway. He serves as the Director and Principal Investigator of the Serhan Laboratory at CET&RI and as the program director of a federally supported National Institutes of Health Program Project grant on the Resolution Mechanisms in Acute Inflammation: Resolution Pharmacology. He is also Principal Investigator on the NIH research grant entitled, Blood Cell Lipoxygenase Products: Formation and Action, funded since 1987, and is honored with a MERIT Award and has authored over 400 papers.

Dr. Serhan received his Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from Stony Brook University New York and his doctorate in Experimental Pathology and Medical Sciences from New York University School of Medicine. He completed his post-doctoral training in Physiological Chemistry at the Karolinska Institute Medical University in Sweden with Professor Bengt Samuelsson, the 1982 Nobel Laureate in Medicine, and later received an honorary degree from Harvard University.

Principal Investigators

Dr. Robert Spiera is the Director of the Vasculitis and Scleroderma Program at the Hospital for Special Surgery. He is the principal investigator in several clinical trials and observational studies focusing on scleroderma and vasculitis. Dr. Spiera specializes in the treatment of various rheumatologic conditions including scleroderma, vasculitis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Wegener's granulomatosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other conditions. He has authored over 70 publications relating to scleroderma, vasculitis, and other rheumatic diseases. Dr. Spiera received his M.D. from Yale University School of Medicine. He completed his residency in internal medicine at NY Hospital and his fellowship in rheumatology at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

Dr. Christopher Denton is the Consultant Rheumatologist at the Royal Free Hospital, Professor of Experimental Rheumatology and Consultant Rheumatologist and Centre Head at University College London Division of Medicine, UK. Professor Denton leads a large clinical program in scleroderma at the Royal Free Hospital and co-ordinates multidisciplinary care for more than 1,400 patients. He was previously chair of the Heberden Scientific Committee of the British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) and currently chairs the UK Scleroderma Study Group (UKSSG). Professor Denton studied medicine at Guy's Hospital in London, obtained a PhD from University College London and trained in connective tissue diseases in London, UK. Following a Wellcome Trust Advanced Fellowship in molecular genetics at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, USA, he was an Arthritis Research UK Senior Clinical Research Fellow from 2000-2010. He has published extensively on laboratory and clinical aspects of connective tissue disease and pulmonary hypertension.

Dr. James Chmiel is a specialist in pediatric pulmonary (lung) diseases in the Division of Pediatric Pulmonology, Allergy, Immunology and Sleep Medicine and Associate Director of the LeRoy W. Matthews Cystic Fibrosis Center at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Chmiel is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric pulmonology. His special interests include pediatric asthma, cystic fibrosis, other pulmonary diseases, and bronchoscopy. He was appointed to the UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital staff in 1998.

He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind., his medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Mich., while simultaneously completing a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. He served a residency in pediatrics at Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Il., and completed his postdoctoral training with a fellowship in pediatric pulmonology at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. He has contributed numerous papers and abstracts on cystic fibrosis, asthma and other pediatric lung diseases to leading medical journals. He also is a frequent invited lecturer and speaker at local, national and international meetings and symposia on the diagnosis, management and latest treatments for pediatric lung diseases.

Dr. Stuart Elborn is a Professor of Respiratory Medicine at Queens' University Hospital in Belfast. Dr. Elborn is Dean of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queens University, Belfast. He has been Non-Executive Director at Belfast Health & Social Care Trust since April 1, 2016. He has served as Director of the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centre at Belfast City Hospital. He has been a Member of Scientific Advisory Board at ProAxsis Ltd. since March 2016. He has been a Member of Medical Advisory Panel at Celtaxsys, Inc. since January 2013. He served as the President of the European Cystic Fibrosis Society from 2008 to 2015. He is Principal Investigator for the European arm of the VX-770 pivotal study. He is focused on understanding Pathophysiology of infection and inflammation and the translation of new therapies into clinical practice. He has been successful in developing programs of research across disciplines, hospitals and universities, as well as bringing scientists and clinicians together to promote inter-disciplinary research. He served as Chairman of Research and Medical Advisory Committees of the CF Trust in the UK. Dr. Elborn trained in Belfast and helped developed Cystic Fibrosis Centers for adults in Nottingham and Cardiff. On return to Belfast in 1995, started a new Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centre providing care for all adults with cystic fibrosis in Northern Ireland.

Dr. Victoria Werth is a Professor of Dermatology and Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Chief of Dermatology, Philadelphia VAMC. She is an internist and dermatologist with a practice devoted to autoimmune skin diseases. She has guided development and validation of disease severity tools currently being used in lupus, dermatomyositis, and autoimmune blistering disease studies. She is leading a multicenter collaborative, web-based database to collect prospective information on patients with skin and systemic manifestations of lupus erythematosus. This is the first systematic epidemiologic study of cutaneous lupus erythematosus in the United States. At the University of Pennsylvania alone, the first prospective evaluations of cutaneous lupus erythematosus in order to assess disease severity, quality of life, and response to treatment, as well as complete validation studies of the CLASI, a disease severity tool for cutaneous lupus, have been collected from information on over 350 patients. Dr. Werth is a member of the Medical & Scientific Committee of the Lupus Foundation of America, Associate Editor for the Lupus Science & Medicine journal, and her research has been funded by the Alliance for Lupus Research, Lupus Foundation of America, Lupus Research Institute, The Myositis Association, NIH, and the VA.

Dr. Werth received her M.D. from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, completed her postgraduate residency at Northwestern Medical Center in internal medicine and in dermatology at the New York University Medical Center, and has authored over 200 papers.

Dr. Meggan Mackay is Professor at The Center for Autoimmune & Musculoskeletal Disease, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and Associate Professor, Molecular Medicine and Medicine at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine. Dr. Mackay is a rheumatologist whose primary interests are in systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and vasculitis. Dr. Mackay is a graduate of New York Medical College, where she was awarded the New York Medical College Trustee Scholarship for Academic Excellence and was a junior inductee into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. She obtained a Master of Science from the Clinical Research Training Program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York. Prior to her arrival at the Feinstein Institute, Dr. Mackay had been on the faculty at Columbia University Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where she was the Associate Director of Medicine at Jacobi Medical Center. At Einstein, she was awarded the Davidoff Teaching Award and the Harry Gordon Award for Outstanding Clinical Teaching. She has worked extensively with the Arthritis Foundation, the SLE Foundation, and the Lupus Alliance to promote community awareness and education about lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other rheumatologic diseases. Over the course of her career, she has authored over 400 papers.