Announcements for 2010

January 8, 2010 (historical)

NIAMS’ O’Shea Receives Arthritis Foundation Award

John J. O'Shea, M.D.

Dr. John J. O’Shea (r) and Dr. Steven Goldring, chair of the Arthritis Foundation’s Research Committee

NIAMS Scientific Director Dr. John J. O’Shea was awarded the Arthritis Foundation’s 2009 Lee C. Howley, Sr., Prize for his continued research contributions in the treatment and control of rheumatic diseases.

The Howley Prize is given each year in recognition of researchers whose contributions during the previous five years have represented a significant advance in the understanding, treatment, or prevention of arthritis and rheumatic diseases.

The Arthritis Foundation recognized Dr. O’Shea for his work on cytokine signal transduction and the elucidation of the roles of Janus kinases (Jaks) and STAT family transcription factors in immune cell development and differentiation. The research of Dr. O’Shea and his colleagues led to a patent held by the NIH, pertaining to targeting Jaks as a new class of immunosuppressive drugs. Dr. O’Shea developed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which generated one such compound that is now in Phase III studies in rheumatoid arthritis. The Pfizer Jak inhibitor is also being tested in kidney transplantation, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease. A number of other pharmaceutical firms have preclinical programs testing other Jak inhibitors.

“John has truly been a pioneer in the study of immunologic and rheumatic diseases, and his research exemplifies the translation of biomedical discoveries to clinical practice,” said NIAMS Director Dr. Stephen I. Katz.

Dr. O’Shea received a B.S. degree from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, and an M.D. degree from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. He served as a resident in Internal Medicine at the State University of New York-Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse.

He joined the NIH in 1981 for subspecialty training in allergy and immunology at the NIAID and did additional postdoctoral work in the NICHD’s Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch. In 1989 he started his own group in the NCI before moving to NIAMS in 1994 as chief of the Lymphocyte Cell Biology Section of the Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch. He was selected as the NIAMS scientific director in 2006.

O’Shea has received numerous awards and honors, including the NIH Director’s Award twice, the U.S. Public Health Service Physician Researcher of the Year award, and the Public Lecture Award from the Irish Immunology Society.