The Association of American Physicians has elected Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Vice President of Clinical Affairs Judith James, M.D., Ph.D., as a member.
James, an immunologist and board-certified rheumatologist, leads OMRF’s Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Research Program. The honor recognizes her excellence in the pursuit of medical knowledge and the advancement of clinical science in her 27 years as a physician-scientist.
A graduate of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and a native of Pond Creek, Oklahoma, James joined OMRF’s scientific staff in 1994. Since then, she has gained international recognition for her work in predicting and preventing lupus, a devastating autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system becomes unbalanced.
“Dr. Judith James is one of the most outstanding physician-scientists of her generation,” said University of Colorado Denver Head of Rheumatology V. Michael Holers, M.D., who nominated James for the honor. “She has performed groundbreaking research to help us understand how autoimmune diseases develop and can be treated using innovative new strategies.”
James was part of the team of investigators who first demonstrated the presence of lupus autoantibodies in the blood before clinical symptoms of the disease. Her research has resulted in OMRF’s designation as a National Institutes of Health Autoimmunity Center of Excellence, one of only 10 nationwide.
“Dr. James is a true leader in medical research,” said OMRF President Stephen M. Prescott, M.D. “She has dedicated her life to cracking the code of some of the most puzzling diseases of our time. This honor recognizes the impact she has made both in the laboratory and in the lives of patients around the world.”
James has also begun studying Covid-19 and autoimmunity. She is investigating why the virus seems to strike tribal populations disproportionately and whether it may lead to autoimmune conditions.
In addition to her scientific accomplishments, James has excelled as a mentor for students and postdoctoral fellows, with a particular emphasis on training American Indian and rural students for careers in medicine, biomedical research and related fields.
“My focus is on improving the lives of people living with autoimmune diseases, and none of it would be possible without our amazing patients and study participants,” said James. “This recognition from the AAP is truly a nod to the work accomplished by my wonderful research team that includes many investigators, research staff, analytic personnel, clinicians, clinical personnel and trainees.”
James joins eight other Oklahoma physicians — including OMRF’s Prescott and OMRF Vice President of Research Rodger McEver, M.D. — as members of the association.
The AAP’s mission is to inspire physician-led research across all fields of science related to medicine and health and to build a community of physician-scientists supporting objective science and evidence as foundations for improving patient care.