Dr. Dan Kastner obtained his A.B. summa cum laude in philosophy from Princeton University and an M.D. and Ph.D. from Baylor College of Medicine. After completing an Internal Medicine residency and chief residency at Baylor, Dan moved to the NIH in 1985 as a Rheumatology fellow. He became a tenure track investigator in the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) in 1990, attained tenure in 1995, was named Chief of the Genetics and Genomics Branch in 2001, and was Clinical Director of NIAMS from 2005 to 2010. He is currently the Scientific Director of the Division of Intramural Research of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).
Based on a chance encounter with a patient with familial Mediterranean fever (FMF), Dan has studied genetic disorders of inflammation at the NIH for over 20 years. In 1992 his lab mapped the gene for FMF to chromosome 16p and subsequently identified the recessively inherited gene by positional cloning. This gene encodes what was then a novel protein (pyrin) that is the prototype for a motif found in 20 human proteins, several involved in inflammation. Prompted by an Irish patient with an FMF-like illness, Dan’s lab discovered that mutations in the p55 TNF receptor cause a dominantly inherited condition they named TRAPS (the TNF receptor-associated periodic syndrome). Stimulated by other patients, Dan’s lab has made seminal genetic discoveries that establish three other distinct illnesses as disorders of the IL-1 pathway, thus helping to define the role of IL-1 in human biology and establishing IL-1 inhibitors as effective therapy. More recently his laboratory has utilized genomic approaches in genetically complex disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Behçet’s disease, and systemic- onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Dan’s group also proposed the now widely accepted concept of autoinflammatory disease to denote disorders of innate immunity.
Dan has won a number of awards and honors. In 2010 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and i 2012 he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.