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Richard Bucala, MD, PhD

Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology) and Professor of Pathology and of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases); Chief, Rheumatology, Allergy, & Immunology; Rheumatologist in Chief, Rheumatology; Affiliated Faculty, Yale Institute for Global Health

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Richard Bucala, MD, PhD

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Richard Bucala, MD, PhD, is Chief, Section of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology and the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Endowed Professor of Medicine, Pathology, and Epidemiology & Public Health. He studies the regulation of the immune system with a focus on how protective responses can lead to immunopathology and disease. His laboratory’s main emphasis is MIF-family cytokines, their role in genetic susceptibility to disease, and their therapeutic targeting for different clinical conditions. The Bucala group is credited with the molecular cloning of MIF and discovery of its critical role in regulating glucocorticoid immunosuppression, which opened novel approaches to therapy in autoimmune inflammatory conditions. His lab also identified the MIF receptor and discovered common polymorphisms in the MIF gene, which show global population stratification. Depending on the nature of the immune or invasive provocation, variant MIF alleles protect from disease or contribute to immunopathology in autoimmunity and in different infections and chronic conditions. His laboratory developed biochips for genetic epidemiology studies of malaria and tuberculosis in resource-limited settings, and his research is leading efforts to develop MIF-based therapies tailored to an individual’s genetic makeup. Dr. Bucala licensed anti-MIF toward the development of Imalumab and his work contributed to the FDA-approved anti-MIF receptor antibody (Milatuzumab). Research partnerships in structure-based drug design have led to novel small molecule MIF modulators for use in autoimmune, oncologic, and infectious diseases. The function of the MIF-like genes expressed by the parasites responsible for malaria, leishmaniasis, and helminthic infection also are under investigation. As these proteins were discovered to uniquely suppress immunologic memory, they offer new targets for vaccination against these infections. Dr. Bucala further is credited with the discovery of the circulating fibrocyte, which is being targeted therapeutically in different fibrosing disorders. He co-founded two biotechnology companies, including the startup MIFCOR begun as a student-advised project. He attends in the Yale New Haven Health System in-patient service and is the past Editor-in-Chief of Arthritis & Rheumatology. Dr. Bucala was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians and has served on advisory boards for the UN, the federal government, the pharmaceutical industry, academia, and private foundations.

Education & Training

  • Fellow
    Hospital for Special Surgery (1991)
  • Resident
    Brigham & Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School (1988)
  • MD
    Cornell College (1986)
  • PhD
    Rockefeller University (1985)
  • Visiting Fellow
    Institut Pasteur, Paris (1985)
  • BS
    Yale University (1979)
  • MS
    Yale University (1979)


  • Genetic studies of human host susceptibility to tuberculosis
    South Africa 2010
    Genetic studies of human host susceptibility to tuberculosis
  • Genetic Susceptibility to Leishmania
    Colombia 2008
    The Bucala group is investigating the genetic susceptibility to the parasitic infection Leishmania in collaboration with researchers in Cali, Colombia.
  • Genetic studies of human host susceptibility to Leishmaniasis
    Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia 2005
    Genetic studies of human host susceptibility to Leishmaniasis
  • Genetic epidemiology studies
    Kenya; Zambia 2003
    Role of innate immunity in malaria infection

Honors & Recognition

American Association of Physicians2009
American Society for Clinical Investigation1996

Professional Service

Arthritis & RheumatologyEditor-in-Chief2015 - Present
Journal of ImmunologyAssociate Editor2010 - 2015
Alumni Schools CommitteeMember2008 - 2012
NIHNIH Biodefense and Chemical Countermeasures2006 - 2012

Departments & Organizations