Eugene William St. Clair, MD

Professor of Medicine
W. Lester Brooks, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Medicine
Chief, Division of Rheumatology and Immunology
Professor in Immunology
Campus mail 34229 Hosp South, Durham, NC 27710
Phone (919) 684-4499
Email address

The main focus of my research is the pathogenesis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This work has been conducted using patient-oriented research methodologies in collaboration with basic scientists and other clinical investigators. A major area of interest has been the development of novel therapies for RA, which has primarily included studies of novel biologics. Another important area of investigation has been the possible role of nitric oxide in the pathogenesis of RA.

My research is conducted in our Clinical Trials Unit which is built around a staff of three clinical research coordinators and a collaborative relationship with Dr. William E. Wilkinson, a Ph.D. biostatistician. Our group has been involved in numerous clinical trials sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. Another important project has been a study of doxycycline therapy in RA, which has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Recently, we have
begun an epidemiologic study of SLE in collaboration with Glinda Cooper, an epidemiologist from the National Institutes of Environmental Health Services in the Research Triangle Park. The General Clinical Research Center, an NIH-supported facility, has frequently served as the site for our research.

The current biologic therapies under investigation in patients with RA include a peptide vaccine, IL-4, IL-10, and anti-tumor necrosis factor-à chimeric monoclonal antibody (anti-TNF). The peptide vaccine consists of a "shared HLA-DRB1 epitope", a short amino acid sequence common to the -chain of those HLA-DR molecules associated with RA. IL-4 and IL-10 are inhibitory cytokines that ameliorate arthritis in experimental animal models and are in the early stages of development as a possible treatment for human disease. The most promising of the novel biologics are those agents inhibiting TNF. Our center is now involved in a phase III clinical trial of anti-TNF in patients with RA, a study involving over 20 other sites in the United States and Europe. I am also principal investigator of an NIH-sponsored study investigating the treatment efficacy of doxycycline in RA and the ability of this antibiotic to suppress collagenase activity in vivo. The work involving nitric oxide has been supported by a Specialized Center for Research in RA (Barton F. Haynes, M. D., Principal Investigator). Other current studies include a clinical trial of DHEA in SLE, and the epidemiologic study of SLE, which is based in North and South Carolina and will examine the relationship between environmental exposures and the incidence of disease.

I have been a consultant for several pharmaceutical companies who are developing new therapies for RA. In addition, I have served as a consultant on NIH study sections for applications related to clinical trials of new anti-rheumatic therapies. I have also organized a Sjogren's Syndrome Clinic at Duke that attracts referrals from the southeastern part of the United States. I have also spoken at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of
Rheumatology on subjects related to my research and clinical interests, including Sjogren's Syndrome, vasculitis, and autoantibodies. Finally, I am developing an investigator's network in the southeastern United States, which should provide the patient base and infrastructure to conduct large clinical trials in rheumatology.

Key words: rheumatoid arthritis, biologics, clinical trials, Sjogren's syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, nitric oxide

Education and Training

  • Chief Resident, Medicine, Duke University, 1984 - 1985
  • Fellow in Rheumatology, Medicine, Duke University, 1983 - 1985
  • Medical Resident, Medicine, Duke University, 1980 - 1983
  • M.D., West Virginia University, 1980


St Clair, E William. “Tides of inflammation: impact of biologics.” J Rheumatol Suppl 65 (September 2002): 22–26.


Cooper, Glinda S., Mary Anne Dooley, Edward L. Treadwell, E William St Clair, and Gary S. Gilkeson. “Hormonal and reproductive risk factors for development of systemic lupus erythematosus: results of a population-based, case-control study.” Arthritis Rheum 46, no. 7 (July 2002): 1830–39.

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Parks, Christine G., Glinda S. Cooper, Leena A. Nylander-French, Wayne T. Sanderson, John M. Dement, Philip L. Cohen, Mary Anne Dooley, et al. “Occupational exposure to crystalline silica and risk of systemic lupus erythematosus: a population-based, case-control study in the southeastern United States.” Arthritis Rheum 46, no. 7 (July 2002): 1840–50.

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St Clair, E William, Carrie L. Wagner, Adedigbo A. Fasanmade, Benjamin Wang, Thomas Schaible, Arthur Kavanaugh, and Edward C. Keystone. “The relationship of serum infliximab concentrations to clinical improvement in rheumatoid arthritis: results from ATTRACT, a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.” Arthritis Rheum 46, no. 6 (June 2002): 1451–59.

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Shanahan, Joseph C., and William St Clair. “Tumor necrosis factor-alpha blockade: a novel therapy for rheumatic disease.” Clin Immunol 103, no. 3 Pt 1 (June 2002): 231–42.

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Shergy, William J., Reuben A. Isern, David A. Cooley, John L. Harshbarger, J Eugene Huffstutter, Gordon M. Hughes, Elizabeth A. Spencer-Smith, et al. “Open label study to assess infliximab safety and timing of onset of clinical benefit among patients with rheumatoid arthritis.” J Rheumatol 29, no. 4 (April 2002): 667–77.


Cooper, G. S., C. G. Parks, E. L. Treadwell, E. W. St Clair, G. S. Gilkeson, P. L. Cohen, R. A. S. Roubey, and M. A. Dooley. “Differences by race, sex and age in the clinical and immunologic features of recently diagnosed systemic lupus erythematosus patients in the southeastern United States.” Lupus 11, no. 3 (2002): 161–67.

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Cooper, G. S., M. A. Dooley, E. L. Treadwell, E. W. St Clair, and G. S. Gilkeson. “Smoking and use of hair treatments in relation to risk of developing systemic lupus erythematosus.” J Rheumatol 28, no. 12 (December 2001): 2653–56.