John Stone, MD, MPH, director of Clinical Rheumatology at Massachusetts General Hospital, was named the inaugural incumbent of the Edward A. Fox Endowed Chair in Medicine.

John H. Stone, MD, MPH, director of Clinical Rheumatology at Massachusetts General Hospital, was honored as the inaugural incumbent of the Edward A. Fox Endowed Chair in Medicine during a celebration on July 13, 2016, at the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation. Thanks to the generosity of Edward A. Fox, this chair will advance research, care and education in rheumatology.

Katrina Armstrong, MD, chief of Medicine, emphasized how the chair advances Dr. Stone’s legacy of trailblazing discovery.

The Mass General Rheumatology Unit cares for patients with arthritis and other rheumatologic and autoimmune conditions. Walter Bauer, MD, one of the country’s first rheumatologists, established the unit in the 1930s. Today, an impressive range of research takes place at the unit. Patients participate in clinical trials of new therapies for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, IgG4-related disease and osteoarthritis.

A New Discovery

In 2008, Dr. Stone joined Mass General as the director of Clinical Rheumatology. That same year, he used his skills as a physician-scientist to lead the discovery of immunoglobulin G4-related disease (IgG4-RD), a condition linking a number of inflammatory disorders previously considered unrelated. Dr. Stone and his team made a groundbreaking realization that IgG4-RD causes a painful and disabling fibrosis — the formation of excessive connective tissue — preventing normal organ and tissue function.

IgG4-RD impacts several organs—the pancreas, liver, kidneys, salivary glands, eyes, lymph nodes. It had been misdiagnosed for decades as cancer or other serious diseases. If IgG4-RD is diagnosed early, inflammation within organs can usually be controlled, thus reducing further damage.

Cancer
Read more about how Dr. Stone led the search for clues to the disease now known as IgG4-RD.

Through the efforts of Dr. Stone and his colleagues, Mass General has become the world’s leading site for investigation into this condition, which can affect multiple organs and tissues. Treatment traditionally has involved prednisone, a steroid medication. Dr. Stone is now leading several targeted treatment approaches to this condition, all of which are based on insights pertaining to disease mechanisms made at Mass General. Katrina Armstrong, MD, chief of Medicine, emphasized how the chair advances Dr. Stone’s legacy of trailblazing discovery.

A Leader in Rheumatology

The evening also illuminated the powerful role of community and the partnership of patients. “The people who embody most perfectly what it is to work at MGH are our clinic staff,” Dr. Stone said, before naming each member of the Rheumatology Clinic Staff. “These folks believe that the hospital doors won’t open if they don’t come to work in the morning. At MGH, we have famous physicians, famous surgeons, famous scientists, but no one who embodies more the pride of working at MGH than our staff.”

Andrew Luster, MD, PhD, chief of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology at Mass General, praised Dr. Stone’s commitment to mentorship. “I can’t emphasize how important John has been in getting fellows interested in rheumatology,” he said.

Golden Age of Rheumatology

“The advances to come in the next 20 years will astonish us all, over and over again,” Dr. Stone observed.

Dr. Stone commented that the field of Rheumatology has entered the Golden Age, with remarkable advances in therapeutics unimaginable when he was a Harvard medical student in the late 1980s. He cited in particular his experience that led directly to a major international clinical trial that he directed and the recent designation by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration of the medication, tocilizumab, as a breakthrough drug.

“The advances to come in the next 20 years will astonish us all, over and over again,” Dr. Stone observed.

Dr. Stone is a professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an integral member of the Department of Medicine’s Faculty Leadership Initiative Task Force. He is an internationally recognized lecturer and the author of more than 200 articles.

For information about supporting Mass General’s MGH Rheumatology Unit, please contact us.