Photo of Paul Plotz, M.D.

Credit: Rhoda Baer

NIAMS is saddened to share the news that Paul Plotz, M.D., who dedicated nearly four decades of service to science at the NIH, passed away on January 13, 2024, at the age of 86 after a long illness.

Dr. Plotz was a world-renowned rheumatologist, immunologist, and researcher known internationally as an expert in myositis, an inflammatory muscle disease and rare autoimmune condition. He retired from NIH in 2011 after serving in a variety of leadership roles, including as chief of the NIAMS Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch, as well as acting scientific director and acting deputy director. He also was senior advisor to the NIH deputy director for intramural research, Dr. Michael Gottesman. As a scientist emeritus at NIAMS, Dr. Plotz was awarded the 2013 Presidential Gold Medal from the American College of Rheumatology, which recognizes outstanding achievements in rheumatology over an entire career and is the highest award the ACR can bestow.

A fourth-generation physician, Dr. Plotz conducted groundbreaking immunology and muscle disease research and was instrumental in advancing understanding of autoantibodies, autoimmune disease, and inflammatory muscle diseases. Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Plotz helped redefine how physicians think about and manage myositis, which helped lead to the first clinical trials in the field for myositis patients. Early in his career, Dr. Plotz worked to advance understanding of systemic lupus erythematosus, a systemic autoimmune condition, as well as autoantibodies and other components of the immune system as part of our understanding of disease mechanisms in these autoimmune diseases. He later investigated clinical, immunologic, and genetic aspects of several muscle diseases.

Dr. Plotz earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University and completed a residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He joined NIH in 1965 as a clinical associate in the Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch at the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases, now known as NIAMS.

He will be remembered as a loving husband, father, mentor, and friend, as well as an accomplished scientist with a lifelong commitment to and passion for human rights and volunteerism. NIAMS extends sincere condolences to Dr. Plotz’s wife of 60 years, Judith, his sons John and David, and his extended family, and to all who had the privilege to know him and were fortunate to have worked with him. Learn more about Dr. Plotz's accomplishments and work, and read a tribute to his service in the NIH Record