Prof. Kenneth Saag

University Of Alabama At Birmingham, United States

Dr. Saag is Professor of Medicine and holds the Jane Knight Lowe Endowed Chair in the Department of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. At UAB he is also Director of the Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Director of the Comprehensive Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, Bone, and Autoimmunity Center, and Director of the Center of Research Translation in Gout and Hyperuricemia.

Proud to have grown up in the diverse city of Evanston, Illinois, where he became an Eagle Scout and graduated third in his high school class of over 1,000 students, Dr. Saag was trained as a bioengineer at the University of Michigan, and received his MD from Northwestern University. As a medical resident at Evanston Hospital, he was recognized as Outstanding Intern of the Year and as a Chief Resident. While at the University of Iowa completing his fellowship in rheumatology, he simultaneously earned an MSc in epidemiology. At Iowa, he began his interest in and pursuit of clinical epidemiology and experimental therapeutics. Dr. Saag continued at the University of Iowa as an Assistant Professor until joining the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he has been a practicing physician, educator, and research scientist since 1998.

Dr. Saag’s research has advanced the field of implementation science and disparities research in the areas of osteoporosis and gout. His recent work has focused on methods to implement evidence into practice using novel study designs. Using cohorts and other large databases, he has contributed to an understanding of comparative effectiveness and safety of drugs in rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and gout. He has authored more than 400 peer-reviewed manuscripts, including 3 original first-author articles in the New England Journal of Medicine on treatment of glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis and on fracture prevention in women with osteoporosis. He has also authored more than 100 reviews, editorials, and book chapters, as well as the fi rst and second editions of the clinical handbook Diagnosis and Management of Osteoporosis. He has served on the editorial boards of Arthritis Care & Research, Annals of Internal Medicine, Archives of Internal Medicine, Bone, and other biomedical journals. As a research mentor, he has trained more than 20 postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty and has been principal investigator on several large program project grants at UAB. He directs the K and T training components for the UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science. He served a term as a standing member on the NIH Neurologic Aging and Musculoskeletal Epidemiology (NAMES) study section and chaired the Arthritis Foundation Review Commit-tee, Clinical Outcomes and Therapeutics Study Section in the past.

Dr. Saag has been frequently recognized for his contributions to research and research training. Among the honors he has received are the UAB Max Cooper Research Award in 2005, the UAB Department of Medicine Research Award (fi rst place among professors) in 2012–2014, the 2017 UAB Dean’s Excellence Award for Mentor-ship, and the 2021 European Calcified Tissue Society Excellence in Research Award. He was elected to the Association of American Physicians in 2015. In 2013 the ACR honored him with its Excellence in Investigative Mentoring Award. He has been listed in Best Doctors annually since 1996. Through his research pursuits he has been a very frequent lecturer in all continents except Antarctica and has particularly enjoyed his collaborations and visiting professorships in Latin America. Past lectureships and plenary presentations have included visits to EULAR, PANLAR, APLAR, the European Calcified Tissue Society, the International Osteoporosis Foundation, the Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society, as well as rheumatology and metabolic bone disease societies in 30 countries.

Throughout his career, Dr. Saag has served actively in numerous medical professional and patient advocacy organizations, and has been particularly focused on developing practice guidelines and quality of care indicators. In 1998–2002 he was a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee on Identifying Effective Treatment for Gulf War Veterans’ Health Problems. In the early 2000s he served on the American Medical Association Osteoarthritis Performance Measures Physicians Workgroup, the National Center for Quality Assurance Musculoskeletal Workgroup, and the American Pain Society Low Back Pain Guidelines Committee. He was a member of the Ameri-can Society for Bone and Mineral Research Advocacy Committee in 2010–2013 and Program Co-Chair of the organization’s 2017 Meet-ing Planning Committee. He served on the National Osteoporosis Foundation Board of Trustees in 2008–2013 and was Vice-President of the organization in 2014–2016 and President in 2016–2018, during which time he also served as Co-Chair of the National Bone Health Alliance. He was a member of the American Gout Society Board of Directors in 2005–2020. In addition, he has served on the FDA Arthritis Drugs Advisory Committee and on numerous panels and work-ing groups of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, NIH, including delivering the keynote address on career journey for the NIAMS K-Trainees Forum in 2019.

A member of the American College of Rheumatology since 1992, Dr. Saag’s active involvement with the ACR began early in his career. He served on the Atypical Connective Tissue Diseases Classification Criteria Subcommittee and the Ad Hoc Committee to Revise Guidelines for Glucocorticoid-Induced Osteoporosis in 1998 and on the Professional Meetings Committee in 1998–2001. He was the senior author on 2 prior iterations of the ACR rheumatoid arthritis guidelines and he served as the American delegate to past EULAR rheumatoid arthritis guidelines. He also served as the senior author on the ACR COVID-19 treatment guidance document produced in 2020. He chaired the Summer Rheumatology Meeting Planning Committee in 2001 and was a member of the Educational Products Committee and the Academic Rheumatology Workforce Ad Hoc Committee in 2002. He served as Co-Chair of the ACR Quality Measures Subcommittee in 2007–2009, as Chair of the Committee on Quality of Care in 2009–2013, and as Chair of the Committee on Corporate Relations from 2018 to 2020. During his time on these committees he helped fashion new approaches to guideline development and advised the College on public–private partnerships during the start of the pandemic. Dr. Saag was appointed to the ACR Board of Directors in 2013 and to the ACR Finance Committee in 2016. He served as ACR Secretary in 2018–2020 and as President-Elect in 2020–2021.

Dr. Saag resides in Birmingham with his wife Leah. They have 3 daughters, Jenny (Christopher) Keshishian, Lauren (Yitzi) Peet-luk, and Stefanie Saag, who work as a certified nurse anesthetist at UAB, an epidemiologist faculty member at Vanderbilt University, and a social work student in Chicago, respectively. Dr. Saag and his wife enjoy international travel, hiking, eclectic food and wine, and in particular, spending time with their children, granddaughter Clara Keshishian, parents Jim Saag and Marlene Waller, extended family/friends throughout the country, and a large cadre of family dogs.

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