President & CEO
Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
Dr. Kevin Tracey studied chemistry at Boston College where he became convinced that the optimal path to improving medicine would be one that combined basic science research with direct patient care. He received his medical degree at Boston University, and trained in neurosurgery with Professor Russel Patterson at Cornell University Medical College. During this period Dr. Tracey collaborated with Anthony Cerami, Steve Lowry and others, and in 1986 he wrote a Science paper that defined the direct inflammatory action of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF), and a Nature paper that reported the therapeutic effectiveness of monoclonal anti-TNF (1987). Dr. Tracey joined North Shore University hospital in 1992 and founded the laboratory of biomedical science, with a main focus in defining the body’s mechanisms that normally prevent the overproduction of TNF. Interested in defining the body’s mechanisms that normally present the overproduction of TNF, Dr Tracey’s research led to the discovery of the inflammatory reflex, initially by electrically stimulating the vagus nerve to control macrophage TNF production via alpha-7 nicotinic receptors. These findings spanned immunology and neuroscience, and have engendered widespread interest in the fundamental role of neural reflexes in maintaining immunological homeostasis. He also discovered the direct inflammatory action of HMGB1, first reporting this in Science, which initiated a new field that has grown explosively. The identification of a critical cysteine of HMGB1 that interacts with TLR4 to stimulate cytokine release and inflammation reveals the critical role played by HMGB1 at the intersection of sterile and infectious inflammation.