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Tomas Mustelin, MD, D. Med. Sci., CIIID Associate Director


Dr. Mustelin’s career path has been a successful blend of clinic, academic, and biotech research, which culminated in his joining the UW faculty of the Division of Rheumatology as a Professor of Medicine in 2018. Since September 2019 he is also the Esther and Herndon Maury Endowed Professor in Rheumatoid Arthritis. Dr. Mustelin first trained as an M.D. in Finland before receiving his Doctorate of Medical Science (Ph.D. equivalent) from the University of Helsinki. From there, Dr. Mustelin moved to the United States to complete postdoctoral training at Scripps Institute in La Jolla, working on T cell receptor signaling. This work continued with faculty appointments at La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology and The Burnham Institute for Medical Research.  In 2007, Dr. Mustelin started what he refers to as a “brief 10-year sabbatical” to lead biotech research teams at top pharmaceutical companies, including Amgen, MedImmune/AstraZeneca, and Gilead, with the focus on developing new therapeutics for immune-mediated diseases. During that time he served as Vice President within these companies and directed research and discovery of novel therapeutics. His teams delivered 24 candidate therapeutics into clinical trials, many of which are efficacious in phase 2 and 3 clinical trials.

Dr. Mustelin is thrilled to be returning to a leadership role in academic science. While he had an extremely productive period within industry, he now wants to use his insights and experience from the industry to drive basic science research to solve problems that are holding up therapeutic progress in biotech:  “I have come to understand that drug development in industry is often unsuccessful for a very simple reason: the molecular core mechanisms that initiate and perpetuate many serious and common human diseases are still poorly understood. Hence, industry often does not know what drug targets to pursue.“  explained Dr. Mustelin. “My goal is to devote the next phase of my scientific career to explore the relevant pathogenic mechanisms of diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, to improve our understanding and enable the development of better therapies for these diseases in the future.”   The focus of Dr. Mustelin’s research at UW is on elucidating the molecular underpinnings of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV), primary Sjögren’s syndrome (pSS), and other autoimmune conditions.