Physician-scientist and rheumatologist John P. Atkinson, MD, the Samuel B. Grant Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been awarded the Presidential Gold Medal by the American College of Rheumatology. The highest award bestowed by the organization, the medal honors a lifetime of outstanding achievements in clinical medicine, research, education and administration.
A former head of the rheumatology division in the Department of Medicine and a professor of molecular microbiology, Atkinson is a leading expert on the role of the complement system in infectious, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. This system is an ancient set of genes and proteins that guard the body against bacterial and viral infections by promoting inflammation. In recent years, he has helped unveil the causes and pathogenesis of autoimmune rheumatic diseases such as lupus and degenerative conditions such as age-related macular degeneration.