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Research Committee of the Board of Directors

Member since 2019

Dr. Thomas O. Daniel is Chairman & President of Vividion Therapeutics, a venture partner at ARCH Venture Partners, and Director at Zafgen, Inc., JUNO Therapeutics, Magenta Therapeutics, and VIR Bio. Formerly Dr. Daniel served asPresident/Chairman, Research and Early Development of Celgene Corp. Prior to over a decade with Celgene, he was the Chief Scientific Officer at Ambrx Inc., as Vice President, Research at Amgen Inc., and as Senior Vice President of Discovery Research at Immunex.


Dr. Daniel currently serves as a member of the Biomedical Science Advisory Board of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. A nephrologist and former academic investigator, Dr. Daniel was previously the K.M. Hakim Professor of Medicine and Cell Biology at Vanderbilt University, and Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Vascular Biology. He formerly conducted research in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at UC San Francisco, earned an M.D. from the University of Texas, Southwestern, and completed medical residency at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Member since 2019

Sir Marc Feldmann, AC, FRS is Emeritus Professor and former Head, of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology-‘ Nuffield department of Orthopedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal science, University of Oxford.


For his discovery of Anti-TNF therapy as an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, Sir Marc received the highly prestigious Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences , the Albert Lasker Clinical Research Award, the Canada Gairdner International Award.  Sir Feldmann was the “European Inventor of the year” in 2006, in the Lifetime achievement category. Other major scientific awards include the Ernst Schering Prize and Paul Janssen award. He has also received much recognition for his scientific excellence from Academies of Science; he is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a foreign Member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.


Sir Marc received his medical degree at Melbourne University and a doctorate in Immunology at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute in Australia.

Ira Akselrad joined The Johnson Company, Inc. (the private investment company of the Johnson family), in 2006 as Executive Vice President and General Counsel. In 2008 he became President of the company.


Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Akselrad was an attorney for 22 years at the New York law firm, Proskauer Rose LLP. He became Partner in 1990, and in 1999, was elected to serve on the firm’s Management Committee. As Partner, his practice was principally devoted to federal income tax law, and he was involved with the firm’s sports and real estate practices. In this role, Mr. Akselrad advised many major real estate companies and sports leagues on structuring acquisitions and dispositions. His sports clients included the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, as well as a number of other National Football League and Major League Baseball clubs.


In 1999 Robert Wood Johnson IV retained Ira to represent him in acquiring the New York Jets. Following this successful acquisition, Mr. Akselrad was instrumental in securing a new stadium as well as advising on the family’s other investment holdings.


Mr. Akselrad and his wife Susan reside in New Jersey, and have two grown children; his daughter Cara lives in New York, and his son Mitchell resides in California.

Member since 2019

Dr. Mark M. Davis is the Director of the Stanford Institute for Immunology, Transplantation and Infection (ITI), a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. He later was a postdoctoral fellow and staff fellow at the Laboratory of Immunology at NIH and later became a faculty member in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he remains today. Dr. Davis is well known for identifying many of the T-cell receptor genes, which are responsible for the ability of these cells to recognize a diverse repertoire of antigens. His current research interests involve understanding the molecular interactions that underlie T cell recognition and the challenges of human immunology, specifically a “systems level” understanding of an immune response to vaccination or infection.


He has received many honors and awards, including memberships in the National Academy of Science and the Institute of Medicine, The Paul Ehrlich Prize, The Gairdner Foundation Prize, The King Faisal Prize, the General Motors Alfred P. Sloan Prize, and being elected as Foreign Member to the Royal Society of London.

Richard DeScherer (Dick) is the chief legal and compliance officer of Bloomberg L.P. since January 1, 2012. Previously, he had served as a Partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, LLP for over 25 years. He specializes in general corporate law, information technology, media, and intellectual property.


Having graduated from University Virginia, Mr. DeScherer received his law degree from Georgetown University. He went on to earn a Master of Laws in Taxation at New York University.


Mr. DeScherer led the former S.L.E. Lupus Foundation as President for many years, working closely with his wife Jennie who also continues her commitment as a Board member of the Lupus Research Alliance. The couple have two grown children Christopher (Amanda Honeycutt) and Katie DeSantis and reside in Manhattan.

Member since 2023

Dr. Isenberg is currently Emeritus Professor of Rheumatology at University College London having been the Academic Director of Rheumatology from 1996 to 2022. During his career, he has worked as a clinical scientist interested in the autoimmune rheumatic diseases. His particular interests have been in the structure, function and origin of autoantibodies notably anti-DNA and antiphospholipid antibodies focusing on links between structure and function. During his career, he has made and studied very intensely a set of hybridoma-derived human monoclonal anti-double stranded DNA antibodies, determining the sequence of these antibodies developing, with colleagues, computer models and showing how individual changes in individual amino acids can have profound effects on binding capacity. He also explored the use of severe combined immunodeficient [SCID] mice to study the potential pathogenic effects of these monoclonals. 


He was the President of the British Society of Rheumatology [2004-2006], Chair of its large biologic register from 2006 to 2011 and on the Executive Boards of Arthritis Research UK/Versus Arthritis and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in the UK. He was one of the two founder members of the Lupus Academy, which now runs annual academic meetings as well as providing a wealth of other additional opportunities through the use of podcasts and educational materials. For the past three years, he has co-chaired the Lupus Community Hub at the virtual sessions organized by the American College of Rheumatology that were held during the pandemic, 2020-2022. He also chairs the Research Committee for the UK’s largest lupus charity, Lupus UK.  

Member since 2019

Ira Mellman, Ph.D. came to Genentech in the Spring of 2007 as Vice President of Research Oncology, after more than 20 years as a faculty member at the Yale University School of Medicine, where he was chair of his department (Cell Biology), a member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, scientific director of the Yale Cancer Center, and Sterling Professor of Cell Biology and Immunobiology. Dr. Mellman has a BA from Oberlin College & Conservatory and a PhD in Genetics from Yale. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Rockefeller University with Ralph Steinman. His laboratory is known not only for advances in fundamental cell biology particularly in the area of membrane traffic (including the discovery of endosomes) but also for applying these insights to understanding the cellular basis of the immune response. Ira ran all of oncology research at Genentech until the end of 2013 when he decided to concentrate his efforts on the rapidly developing area of cancer immunotherapy and became Vice President of Cancer Immunology. He remains a frustrated composer and songwriter, and has recorded two CDs of the little-known genre of “bio-rock”.


Ira is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the European Molecular Biology Organization, and the former Editor in Chief of the Journal of Cell Biology. He has also served on the editorial boards of Cell, the Journal of Experimental Medicine, EMBO Journal, OncoImmunology among others, and is the recipient of many named lectureships, honorary professorships, and awards, most recently Yale University’s Wilbur Lucius Cross medal. He also serves on the boards of the Society for the Immunotherapy of Cancer, the American Society for Cell Biology, the Melanoma Research Foundation, and the Cancer Research Institute.

Member since 2023

Dr. Virginia Pascual is a pediatric rheumatologist interested in basic and translational immunology. After obtaining her Medical degree and completing a residency in Pediatrics in her native Spain, she joined the laboratory of J. Donald Capra at UT Southwestern in Dallas, where she trained in Molecular Biology and Immunology. Her initial research uncovered the human immunoglobulin variable region gene repertoire involved in the generation of human autoantibodies. This work inspired her to pursue training in Pediatric Rheumatology at UT Southwestern. Dr. Pascual became Director of the Pediatric Rheumatology division at the same institution in 1998. Since then, her research has focused on understanding pediatric inflammatory and autoimmune diseases with the goals of identifying therapeutic targets and useful biomarkers.   Studies from her laboratory contributed to the discovery that type I interferon (IFN) and interleukin 1 (IL-1) are pathogenic players in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and systemic onset Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (sJIA), respectively. Using genomic approaches, her group identified novel pathways to target therapeutically as well as unique signatures to follow patients in the clinic and assess responses to therapy.


Dr. Pascual is currently the Program Director of an NIAID-funded U19 Autoimmunity Center of Excellence and NIAMS-funded P50 Center of Research Translation, focused on Pediatric Autoimmunity. After spending most of her career as a clinician-scientist in Dallas, in 2017 she joined Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, where she serves as the Ronay Menschel Professor of Pediatrics and the Director of the Drukier Institute for Children’s Health, which is committed to accelerate research to better understand and treat diseases that start in childhood.

Member since 2019

John J. O’Shea, MD graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.S. from St. Lawrence University, and M.D. from University of Cincinnati. He completed his internship and residency at SUNY Upstate Medical University, subspecialty training at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and postdoctoral work at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. He started his own group in the National Cancer Institute and moved to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) as Chief of the Lymphocyte Cell Biology Section of the Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch. He became Scientific Director and Director of the NIAMS Intramural Research Program and served as Acting Director of the NIH Center for Regenerative Medicine. Dr. O’Shea is also an adjunct Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Pennsylvania.


He co-founded the NIH/Oxford/Cambridge program in Biomedical Science, and served as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholars Advisor.


With colleagues Dr. O’Shea cloned the tyrosine kinase, Jak3, and demonstrated its role in severe combined immunodeficiency. He received US patents related to Janus Family Kinases and identification of immune modulators. Dr. O’Shea and NIH colleagues identified Stat3’s role in regulating T cell cytokine production in Job’s syndrome. More recently, his laboratory employed deep sequencing to understand the epigenetic regulation of T cell differentiation and the role of STATs.


Member since 2019

Dr. Seder is the Chief of the Cellular Immunology Section in the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Health (NIH). Formerly, Dr. Seder was Chief of the Clinical Immunology Section in the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation at the NIH. Dr. Seder’s work focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which vaccines mediate protective antibody or T cell immunity against HIV, Malaria, Tuberculosis and  personalized therapeutic cancer vaccines. Dr. Seder has advanced his scientific discoveries into clinical trials for several of these diseases. Dr. Seder received his BA from Johns Hopkins University, his MD from Tufts University, and his residency in internal medicine at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.  He received postdoctoral training in the Laboratory of Immunology at the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) under Dr. William Paul . Dr. Seder has served on numerous scientific advisory boards as well as the Board of Trustees for Johns Hopkins University and the Hirshhorn Museum.


Dr. Seder is serving in a personal capacity; the government neither sanctions nor endorses his service.

Member since 2019

Dr. Wofsy received his undergraduate degree from Harvard (1968), his MD from the University of California, San Diego (1974), and his medical residency training and rheumatology fellowship training from the University of California, San Francisco. He joined the UCSF faculty in 1980. He currently Professor of Medicine and Microbiology/Immunology at UCSF. Dr. Wofsy also serves as Associate Dean for Admissions for the UCSF School of Medicine. He has served on numerous NIH study sections, and on the Arthritis Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Wofsy is a past-President of the American College of Rheumatology.


Dr. Wofsy’s research program is devoted to the development of novel therapies for autoimmune diseases, particularly systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). For many years, his research focused on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that lead to autoimmunity in murine models for SLE. He and his mentor, William Seaman, were the first investigators to demonstrate the potential therapeutic benefits of monoclonal antibodies in murine models for autoimmune rheumatic diseases, using models for SLE.  Dr. Wofsy’s career traces a path that exemplifies translational science.  After years at the bench studying the mechanisms of autoimmune disease, Dr. Wofsy has become an international leader in the conduct of clinical trials of new therapies for people with SLE.  His basic research on a molecule called CTLA4Ig led directly to the development of abatacept, which was approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in 2005 and is currently being studied in patients with lupus, vasculitis, and scleroderma.  Dr. Wofsy is actively engaged in clinical trials of several additional biologic therapies that have shown promise in lupus, and he is one of the leaders of the NIH-sponsored Accelerating Medicines Partnership that seeks to identify new targets for the next generation of lupus treatments.

William J. Wolfe is the co-founder, President and CEO of First Washington Realty, Inc., a privately held real estate investment advisory and management firm which specializes in the acquisition, ownership and management of neighborhood and community shopping centers located in densely populated areas throughout the United States. Mr. Wolfe was the co-founder and former President and CEO of First Washington Realty Trust, Inc., a public REIT that traded on the New York Stock Exchange from 1994 through 2001. Over 30 years the companies have owned, operated, provided investment advisory services and managed retail properties with a value in excess of $6.5 billion.


Prior to entering the real estate business, Mr. Wolfe served in the Executive Office of the President of the United States. He is on the Board of Trustees of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Alternatives for Youth Foundation. Mr. Wolfe is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, Chief Executives’ Organization, and the World Presidents’ Organization. He has served as a Board member of Washington Heart, the University of Maryland School of Public Affairs, the Corporate Advisory Board of the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School, and the National Bank of Commerce. He has chaired major capital campaigns for Fight for Children, Jewish Foundation for Group Homes and Super Leaders.


In 1971, Mr. Wolfe founded The Key Program, Inc., a New England based youth service agency that provides a variety of residential and non-residential programming to at-risk youth and their families. Mr. Wolfe served as Key’s Chairman for 25 years. Since inception, Key has provided services to over 80,000 young people and their families. Since 1998, William J. Wolfe Scholarships have been awarded by the Alternatives for Youth Foundation to over 100 students for college or vocational training.


Mr. Wolfe received his Bachelor’s Degree from Clark University and his Master’s Degree from Harvard University.

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