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Joachim Robert Kalden: one of the founders of autoimmunity research and immunotherapy
  1. Gerd R Burmester1,
  2. Bernhard Manger2,
  3. Georg Schett2,
  4. Hendrik Schulze-Koops3
  1. 1 Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  2. 2 Department of Internal Medicine 3, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg and Universitätsklinikum Erlangen and Deutsches Zentrum für Immuntherapie, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg and Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, Erlangen, Bayern, Germany
  3. 3 Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Department of Internal Medicine IV, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munchen, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Prof. Dr. Gerd R Burmester, Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, 10117 Berlin, Germany; gerd.burmester{at}

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Born in Marburg in 1937, Joachim (Jochen) R Kalden studied medicine in Freiburg, Marburg and Tübingen. He developed his passion for immunology early on: ‘The immunological histamine release in the diagnosis of drug allergic conditions’, was the title of his doctoral thesis in 1966, and it was the first testimony to his occupation with immunology, his later great professional love. Always at the forefront of research, he developed this passion with his characteristic great curiosity and visionary power over many decades. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Therapeutics at the University of Edinburgh, he was deeply involved in the scientific basis of immunopathogenesis of autoimmune diseases with a then very novel idea: autoantibodies were responsible for the development of myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease of the neuromuscular endplate. He was dedicated to find new methods to detect such autoantibodies to open diagnostic and, more importantly, therapeutic opportunities. This was the temptation that drove him throughout his life: to develop methods based on an understanding of the pathophysiology of autoimmune diseases that could be used to precisely intervene into their disease processes. This concept is the basis of modern therapy of inflammatory rheumatic diseases and the concept to induce remission, which is intensively connected with Joachim R Kalden as a worldwide appreciated, extremely active protagonist.

Joachim R Kalden received his clinical training in Hannover, Germany, as an assistant in the Division of Clinical Immunology at the Department of Internal Medicine at the Hannover Medical School, which had just been founded and had set itself the goal of promoting innovative approaches in teaching and research. His mentor, Helmut Deicher, had discovered the anti-DNA antibodies in parallel to Maxime Seligmann, Paris, when he was a …

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  • Handling editor Josef S Smolen

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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