Q: What inspired you to develop the vasculitis research network?
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Explore This IssueDecember 2010
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A: Realizing that one person couldn’t possibly take on the challenge of performing large studies in rare diseases alone, I developed a consortium of collaborators. It was really necessary to bring multiple talents together and to generate adequate numbers of patients so you could study these patients more than just one at a time. … That consortium ultimately grew to have the intellectual firepower, numbers of patients and resources, so that we could plan studies that had never been conceived as being possible before.
Q: What guidance can you provide young researchers?
A: If research is part of your passion, it’s not practical to try to be successful by looking at four or five problems that are unrelated to each other. I think that limited my productivity in my early career, although I do not regret it. The opportunity to focus in one area was a gift from the NIH, and I am forever grateful for that.
Distinguished BASIC Investigator
John A. Hamilton, PhD
Professorial Fellow and Director of the Arthritis and Inflammation Research Centre and Deputy Head, Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne in Parkville, Victoria, Australia
Background: Research has always had an allure for Dr. Hamilton. He earned his PhD at the University of Melbourne, and did postdoctoral training at the Australian National University and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. His career has included stints at the Basel Institute for Immunology in Basel, Switzerland, the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto, and Rockefeller University and Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, both in New York. In 2001, he was the founding chief executive officer of a global consortium, the Cooperative Research Centre for Chronic Inflammatory Diseases. He is currently a senior principal research fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and has supervised 27 doctoral students and mentored 40 postdoctoral scientists.
Dr. Hamilton, who helped convene the 2005 Word Congress on Inflammation, traces his initial interest in rheumatology in part to a relative who suffered from juvenile arthritis. Through her, he says, he saw the daily travails of “this terrible disease.” His research has focused on the biology of inflammation, which impacts on other diseases, including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. His major contributions have been in cytokine-mediated effects on macrophages and synoviocytes.
Q: Your career has always been focused on academia. What was the pull of research versus clinical care?