Reflecting their many contributions to the field, researchers at NYU Langone Health received multiple awards at the 2018 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) annual meeting in Chicago.
“I’m particularly proud of our faculty this year, as they were recognized at every level—across the master, researcher, educator, and fellow categories,” says Jill P. Buyon, MD, the Sir Deryck Maughan and Lady Va Professor of Rheumatology and director of the Division of Rheumatology. Dr. Buyon was recognized as a Master of the ACR, one of the organization’s highest honors, for her contributions to the specialty’s understanding of lupus in pregnancy.
Recognizing Research into Lupus’ Genetic Roots
Timothy Niewold, MD, professor of medicine and pathology and director of the Judith and Stewart Colton Center for Autoimmunity, has contributed to both basic and clinical research with multiple studies aimed at understanding how genes influence the pathogenic cytokine patterns that give rise to lupus in human patients. Those contributions were recognized with the ACR’s Henry Kunkel Young Investigator Award, given annually to a researcher 45 years old or younger.
The recognition brings Dr. Niewold full circle: The award’s namesake, Henry Kunkel, was a lupus researcher at New York’s Rockefeller University who described some of the early autoantibodies used to diagnose the disease. Dr. Niewold’s first research mentor, in turn, had been a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Kunkel’s lab. Dr. Kunkel’s group studied lupus in human patients at a time when the disease was thought impossible to address beyond cell cultures or mouse models. The lab validated its approach with a series of important findings, and Dr. Niewold says the focus on patients helped shape his approach to human immunology.
Fellowship Awards Emphasize Specialty Education
Michael H. Pillinger, MD, professor of medicine and of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology and director of NYU School of Medicine’s rheumatology fellowship program, secured a prestigious Amgen Fellowship Training Award from the Rheumatology Research Foundation. The one-year award will partially fund a promising rheumatology fellow in the division’s two-year program.
Separately, Shudan Wang, MD, who is now affiliated with Montefiore Medical Center, was recognized with a Distinguished Fellow Award for her analysis of membrane attack complex deposition in lupus nephritis. Dr. Wang’s research suggested that the membrane attack complex of complement activation, specifically C9, is associated with hypertension and poor response to treatment. This special staining may have important implications for management of lupus nephritis. Dr. Wang also examined the cardiovascular safety of arthritis medications.