Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist John Harley, M.D., Ph.D., has been named the inaugural recipient of a mentoring award from the nation’s leading rheumatology organization. Harley will be honored in Washington D.C. during the 70th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Research and Education Foundation.
The new Excellence in Investigative Mentoring award was established to honor an ACR member for outstanding and ongoing mentoring. As its recipient, Harley will receive a $3,000 cash prize from the Atlanta-based, 7,000-member organization of rheumatologists and health professionals dedicated to healing, preventing disability and curing arthritis and related rheumatic diseases.
Since joining OMRF in 1982, Harley has provided guidance to dozens of scientists – including current OMRF faculty Darise Farris, Ph.D., and Judith James-Wood, M.D., Ph.D. – who have established successful research careers under his tutelage. Additionally, more than 20 high school and college students have worked under Harley as Fleming Scholars through a summer research program at OMRF.
“True mentorship takes significant time and energy commitments, and many find the costs too high,” said James-Wood, who nominated Harley for the award. “Dr. Harley has taken the approach of finding his success in helping others be successful.”
Farris cited Harley’s knack for bringing out a person’s full potential. “He once advised me not to create artificial boundaries for myself,” Farris said. “I’ll always remember that.”
At OMRF, Harley studies lupus, which is estimated to affect up to 1.5 million Americans and can be fatal. His work has focused on the genetics of lupus, and he has played a major role in identifying a pair of genes that may be responsible for causing the disease.
He created the Lupus Multiplex Registry and Repository – the world’s largest collection of biological samples from families in which multiple members suffer from lupus – which is supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health. Harley also received a prestigious $1.8 million Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) award from the NIH in 2005.
Harley heads OMRF’s Arthritis and Immunology Research Program and holds appointments at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Celebrating its 60th birthday in 2006, OMRF (www.omrf.org) is a nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and curing human disease. Its scientists focus on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease. It is home to Oklahoma’s only member of the National Academy of Sciences.