Q: What is the rewarding part of it?
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A: The ability to really change the trajectory of these children and adolescents who have a significant, sometimes life-altering and life-limiting chronic condition for the better is very exciting and rewarding. Intellectually, the scientific advances, the treatment, the immunology that is behind how we treat these children is academically and professionally very satisfying. But then to see that we can actually prevent disability, organ damage, and death, and help these kids live really essentially normal and productive lives is something worth getting up every morning and looking forward to.
ACR Presidential Gold Medal
Paul Plotz, MD
Senior Clinician and Scientist Emeritus, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, NIH
Background: The question was never whether Paul Plotz, MD, was going to enter medicine, it was how he’d make his mark.
Winning the ACR’s Presidential Gold Medal is certainly one way to do it.
The road to the College’s highest award began at Harvard Medical School, where he earned his medical degree in 1963 with a thesis called, “Studies on the actions and interactions of streptomycin and penicillin.” He completed his internship and residency in Boston and moved to Washington, D.C. in 1965. And, except for two years in London for a formative turn as a Helen Hay Whitney Foundation fellow and a sabbatical year at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology in London, he’s been there ever since.
He has been involved with NIH for his entire career, a mutually beneficial relationship that has provided him with freedom and steady research funding and given the NIH an award-winning scientist. His prize mantle includes the Paul Klemperer Award, the Carol Nachman Prize, and the 2003 Distinguished Clinician Scholar Award from the ACR.
Q: In a career of accolades, where does this one rank?
A: Very high indeed! I have one that I would mention in the same breath, and that is that I have an honorary doctorate from the University of Athens. But you could certainly say that this award ranks highest.
Q: What does this award say to you about your career?
A: I think the thing that characterizes my career is that I have worked substantially in both science and in clinical work. And the other is that I have trained many terrific people. Did I make them what they were? Of course not. I picked them well, and I gave them the opportunity to do their stuff. I’ve published papers with a hundred people who have been either directly in training with me or in training with labs I collaborated with. Those two things I’m very proud of.