Dr. Gary Firestein

Gary FiresteinDr. Gary Firestein’s work focuses on the pathogenesis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. His lab mapped the synovial cytokine profile of RA and demonstrate the dominance of macrophage and fibroblast products. These studies played a pivotal role in the development of the highly effective anti-TNF and other anti-cytokine approaches to RA. He has also dissected the kinome in RA synoviocytes and used this technology to identify and validate novel therapeutic targets. Recently, Dr. Firestein has mapped the epigenetic profile of the RA synovium and identified a unique DNA methylation signature in rheumatoid synoviocytes.

Dr. Firestein received his AB from Harvard College and MD from Johns Hopkins. After training in internal medicine at UCLA, he completed his fellowship in rheumatology at UCSD. He has served on the faculty at UCSD since 1996 and was chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology from 1998-2010. He currently serves as the Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical and Translational Research at UCSD.

About the Lab

Dr. Firestein has  studied the role of aggressive synoviocyte behavior in RA as a mechanism of joint destruction and implicated tumor suppressor genes mutations in the pathogenesis of disease. Over the last decade, his laboratory has worked extensively on signal transduction pathways as potential therapeutic targets. These studies identified key signaling molecules regulating synovial inflammation and paved the way to several effective oral small molecule inhibitors that are currently in late phase clinical development for RA. More recently, Dr. Firestein has focused on epigenetics and discovered a DNA methylation signature specific to RA. In addition, he directed a number of innovative clinical studies for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, and autoinflammatory syndromes with a focus on developing novel biomarker endpoints. His group developed novel biomarker studies using serial synovial biopsy studies in RA to understand the mechanism of action for anti-rheumatic agents.

Research Highlights

New Publications

Serum reactivity to citrullinated protein/peptide antigens and left ventricular structure and function in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). PLoS One. 2023; 18(10):e0291967. Hughes-Austin JM, Katz R, Majka DS, Criqui MH, Robinson WH, Firestein GS, Hundley WG, Ix JH. PMID: 37874814; PMCID: PMC10597499.
View in: PubMed 

Fibroblast multiplicity in RA: a synovial state of affairs. Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2023 Oct; 19(10):609-610. Machado CRL, Firestein GS. PMID: 37605002.
View in: PubMed 

Cost-effectiveness of social media advertising as a recruitment tool: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Transl Sci. 2023; 7(1):e180. Tsaltskan V, Sanchez Baez R, Firestein GS. PMID: 37745929; PMCID: PMC10514690.
View in: PubMed​

Major Active Grants

NIH RePORTER list of projects with Dr. Firestein as PI:
Joint-location specific pathogenic pathways in rheumatoid arthritis

UC San Diego Clinical and Translational Research Institute

Methotrexate treatment of Arthritis caused by Chikungunya virus (MARCH): A randomized controlled trial of methotrexate versus placebo in the treatment of chronic arthritis after chikungunya infection

In addition, numerous foundation and industry sponsored grants.