The American College of Rheumatology has presented its annual Distinguished Basic/Translational Investigator Award to Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Vice President of Clinical Affairs Judith James, M.D., Ph.D.
A board-certified rheumatologist and member of the National Academy of Medicine, James received the ACR Award of Distinction for her outstanding contributions to the field of rheumatology, including understanding systemic autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
ACR is a nonprofit association of physicians, health professionals and scientists working to advance the specialty of rheumatology worldwide. Members may nominate colleagues and mentors for its Awards of Distinction.
OMRF scientist Darise Farris, Ph.D., was among those who nominated James. Farris cited her colleague of more than 20 years’ seminal contributions to lupus research, which paved the way for the first clinical trial to prevent the disease.
“Dr. James has performed pioneering work to unravel the molecular basis of the association between the Epstein-Barr virus and lupus, and she works tirelessly to improve the health of Native Americans in Oklahoma,” Farris said.
James first came to OMRF as a Sir Alexander Fleming Scholar in 1988. In addition to her role as chief clinical officer, she leads the foundation’s Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Research Program and holds the Lou C. Kerr Endowed Chair in Biomedical Research. She is known internationally for her watershed work in understanding the early events of autoimmune diseases like lupus.
“I have followed Dr. James’ studies since the beginning of her career, as it has illuminated my own work,” said Joseph Craft, M.D., a professor of medicine and immunobiology at the Yale School of Medicine, in support of James’ honor.
“This is a true testament of one’s scientific impact and leadership in a chosen field,” he added. “We learn from their findings, using them to advance our own investigation.”
A native of Pond Creek, Oklahoma, James earned her B.S. from Oklahoma Baptist University and her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.