Our colleague Professor Dennis McGonagle, Deputy Director at the NIHR-funded Academic Unit for Musculoskeletal Diseases and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, recently delivered the esteemed Stearne Lecture in Dublin, Ireland.
The lecture is named after Professor John Stearne who was the first president of Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.
His lecture was on his foundational studies on classification of Immune Mediated Disease, published in PLoS Medicine in 2006. The study, which outlined that inflammation against self was not always autoimmune, defined a new immunotherapeutic boundary of self-directed inflation. This provides new vectors for inflammatory disease therapy.
Prof McGonagle explains: “In reality, an immunological disease continuum exists and an interaction between autoimmune and innate immune mechanisms determines pathology. Crucially, it transpires diseases that are exclusively innate immune mediated or intermediates between innate and adaptive immunity are very responsive to IL-1 blockade or IL-23 and IL-17 blockade and other drugs such as colchicine – the latter of which was discovered by the Ancient Egyptians.”
Described by Professor Anthony O’Regan, Dean of the Institute of Medicine, as a “paradigm shifter”, Prof McGonagle has forged a career on answering the unexplored in rheumatology. In 1998, he first raised the idea that there are two different types of inflammation of the joints. Now when joints are scanned, two patterns of disease are evaluated to help to determine treatment strategies.
Prof McGonagle continues to push boundaries and shape how we practice medicine for the patient of the future.