Joseph E. Craft, M.D., newly named as the Paul B. Beeson Professor of Medicine, is an internationally recognized expert on the pathogenesis of systemic autoimmune diseases, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

He and his research team seek to define the mechanisms of loss of self-tolerance and activation of autoreactive T cells in systemic autoimmune diseases, and the differentiation and regulation of T cells in normal immune responses. His research has been continually funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 1985, and he is the current recipient of an NIH MERIT Award and directs an NIH-funded center in the rheumatic diseases.

Craft joined the School of Medicine as an assistant professor in 1985 after completing an internship and residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) and a fellowship in rheumatology. He became a professor of medicine in 1997, a professor of immunobiology in 1999.

The chief of the Section of Rheumatology since 1991, Craft has also directed the Yale Investigative Medicine Program since 2004. He is chief of rheumatology at YNHH.

Craft won the School of Medicine’s Charles W. Bohmfalk Teaching Prize in Basic Sciences in 2004. He has been elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, among other professional honors.

Craft has served numerous national research organizations, including as chair of two standing study sections at NIH and on the scientific advisory board of the Alliance for Lupus Research. He is a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors at the NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), and he is a member of the boards of the Arthritis Foundation and the Lupus Clinical Trials Consortium. Craft is a co-founder and serves on the board of L2 Diagnostics, a biotechnology company in New Haven.

An associate editor of Arthritis & Rheumatism, Craft also serves on the editorial board of Autoimmunity. He is active in a number of community service endeavors, including serving as a volunteer for the Connecticut Chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America.

The professorship was established in 1981 by the late Elisha Atkins, M.D., to honor his colleague Paul B. Beeson, M.D., a beloved clinician, researcher, and teacher who served as chair of Yale’s Department of Internal Medicine from 1952 to 1965. An expert in infectious disease, Beeson provided an ideal by which Yale medical students, residents, and faculty members have measured themselves for decades. Upon his retirement from academia in 1981, his two chief residents summarized Beeson’s legacy: “In short,” they said, “he is the kind of physician all of us aspire to be.”