ATLANTA—Every year at its Annual Meeting, the ACR recognizes its members’ outstanding contributions to the field of rheumatology through an awards program. The ACR is proud to announce 20 award recipients for 2019, honored for their accomplishments as clinicians, instructors or researchers who have helped advance rheumatology, for their commitment to inspire others to enter the field or for advocating for the needs of rheumatology patients and the professionals who care for them. (Click here for Part 1 of this series, which focused on the ARP awards and ACR Masters in the November issue.)
You Might Also Like
Explore This IssueDecember 2019
Also By This Author
Presidential Gold Medal
John P. Atkinson, MD, MACR, Samuel B. Grant Professor of Medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, received the ACR’s highest award—the Presidential Gold Medal—for his outstanding achievements in clinical medicine, research, education or administration during his distinguished career.
Dr. Atkinson, who is also professor of molecular microbiology and director of the RVCL (retinal vasculopathy with cerebral leukoencephalopathy) Research Center at Washington University School of Medicine, says his most important basic science investigations focused on the complement system. Initially, these studies centered on C2 and C4, and more recently, on characterization of complement receptors and regulators. In 1985, his laboratory identified and then cloned a novel inhibitor—membrane cofactor protein (MCP) or CD46. His clinical interest has primarily focused on identifying and further defining rare inflammatory diseases.
Dr. Atkinson completed his medical degree at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City, Kan., in 1969 and then an internal medicine residency in 1971 at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. From 1971–74, he served in the U.S. Public Health Service, working for Michael Frank, MD, lab director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, Md. From 1974–76, he was a fellow in allergy, clinical immunology and rheumatology at Washington University School of Medicine. In 1976, he was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and chief of the university’s Division of Rheumatology, which he directed from 1976–92 and again from 2007–17. From 1992–97, he was the Adolphus Busch Professor and chaired the university’s Department of Medicine.
Over the past 50 years, Dr. Atkinson has published 300 original reports, 200 reviews, editorials, book chapters and case reports, and participated in more than 50 named lectures and professorships. He has served in many leadership positions. For the National Institutes of Health (NIH), he chaired the General Medicine A Study Section, the Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center Board of Scientific Counselors and the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Board of Scientific Counselors.
He has particularly liked working with volunteers in local and national rheumatology, arthritis and lupus foundations.
Dr. Atkinson received the Paul Klemperer Medal from the New York Academy of Medicine in 1990, the Lee C. Howley Sr. Prize from the National Arthritis Foundation in 1991 and the Distinguished Faculty Award at Founders’ Day from Washington University School of Medicine in 1993. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 1996, was presented with the Distinguished Investigator Award by the ACR in 1998 and the American Association of Immunology’s Steinman Award for Human Immunology Research in 2012. He enjoys teaching immunology and rheumatology to students, house officers and fellows. Medical students at Washington University School of Medicine have recognized him with the Distinguished Service Teaching Award 16 times and Teacher of the Year three times.
“I’m very grateful for this award [the ACR Presidential Gold Medal], which reflects over four decades of ongoing studies in immunology as a physician scientist and serving as a teacher focused on rheumatic diseases,” says Dr. Atkinson. “Rheumatology is a great field to be working in—and also humbling. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful students, house officers, fellows, clinical and research colleagues, and mentors whom I cannot thank enough. Modern genetics is teaching us a lot, and I want to continue to be part of this revolution.”