Four physicians who have spent significant time in their research careers working to find cures and treatments for rheumatologic diseases were honored by their peers in 2007. Two—Anthony S. Fauci, MD, and Sir Ravinder Nath Maini, MD—are the recipients of the highest scientific awards given in their respective countries (the United States and the United Kingdom). Two other rheumatologists—Jane E. Salmon, MD, and Josef Smolen, MD—were tapped for the international Carol Nachman Prize for Rheumatology.
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Explore This IssueDecember 2007
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Dr. Fauci: Immunology Pioneer
Dr. Fauci received the 2005 National Medal of Science Award in ceremonies at the White House earlier this year. President Bush recognized a total of 30 winners of both the 2005 and 2006 National Medal of Science at this event. “It was an extraordinary honor … to receive this award from the president,” says Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. He was chosen for the award by a committee of 13 scientists following a two-year selection process “for pioneering the understanding of mechanisms whereby the human immune system is regulated, and for his work on dissecting the mechanisms of pathogenesis of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that has served as the underpinning for current strategies for the treatment of HIV disease,” according to a National Science Foundation award announcement.
Dr. Fauci is known worldwide for his pioneering work on the pathogenic mechanisms of HIV disease, but he says his early work as a research physician was centered on diseases linked to rheumatology. He completed his medical training at Cornell Medical School in New York City and an internship and residency at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.
Dr. Fauci trained in two subspecialities, clinical immunology and allergy, and is board certified in infectious diseases. As a fellow in the late 1960s, he began to study the mechanisms of the immune system, “a hallmark of rheumatologic disease,” he notes. In the 1960s and 1970s Dr. Fauci studied immune regulation and its effect on systemic lupus and RA. When the first cases of HIV were reported in 1981, he changed the primary direction of his basic and clinical research.
Dr. Fauci began his career at the NIAID in 1968 with work on the human immune system, particularly on conditions that cause the immune system to malfunction. His seminal work on HIV/AIDS is the foundation for the current treatment and prevention strategies for the disease. Dr. Fauci says he applied his basic training in immunology and rheumatology to research on HIV/AIDS. This work has now won him the prestigious national honor that has been given to only 441 other scientists since Congress established the National Medal of Science in 1959.
Dr. Maini: Anti-TNF Visionary
In the United States, selection for the National Medal of Science is the highest award for scientific achievement; in the United Kingdom, it is being chosen by the Royal Society of England. The Fellowship of the Royal Society in England was founded in 1660 and is the world’s oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, with a membership of more than 1,300 distinguished scientists. Each year, the Royal Society recognizes fellows and foreign members for their scientific achievements. In 2007, Dr. Maini, emeritus professor of rheumatology at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology of the Imperial College of London, was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. His name is now placed along side that of highly respected past awardees including Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, and Steven Hawking—and 21 Nobel Prize winners.