Jeff Bass is a fervent champion of arthritis advocacy and research. The Amgen pharmaceutical director of global government affairs serves on the Arthritis Foundation’s National Board of Directors and has been an active volunteer at the local level in Southern California, too.

Leading by example, Jeff participates in numerous arthritis events, including the Arthritis Walk, and he is a prolific fundraiser – personally raising more than $50,000 each year for the Foundation’s California Coast Classic, a 525-mile, eight-day bike tour from San Francisco to Los Angeles that benefits arthritis research and programs. Even during the ride, after most are done fundraising, Jeff often rolls into camp with a helmet full of funds he raised from people and proprietors at shops along the ride’s route.

But it wasn’t Jeff’s professional ties that originally spurred his commitment to the Arthritis Foundation. We chatted with the 57-year-old of Newbury Park, Calif., before the 10th California Coast Classic to learn why he got involved and how he’s helping the arthritis community – one mile, one dollar ­– at a time.

Q: Your commitment to the Arthritis Foundation is both professional and personal; what initially got you involved?

I’ve been involved with the Arthritis Foundation since the year 2000 when Amgen (through an acquisition of Immunex) acquired the arthritis drug, Enbrel.

But that’s not the reason I got involved with the Arthritis Foundation. The reason I got involved with the Arthritis Foundation and all they do for arthritis is because my mother-in-law developed very severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It was a very rapid onset. She went from no symptoms to fully disabled in 2003. My wife was spending a lot of time with her back home in West Virginia (we live in California) trying to help her mom get the very best care at a great medical center in Morgantown, W.V. I even called some of my rheumatologist friends for consults and they assured me the folks in West Virginia were doing all the right things in the right order.