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John P. Atkinson, MD

John P. Atkinson, MD, Samuel B. Grant Professor of Clinical Medicine, is a leading expert in rheumatology and innate immunity. He is particularly known for his discoveries regarding the complement system’s role in infectious, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

In the last decade, Atkinson’s research has focused on uncovering the etiology and pathogenesis of autoimmune rheumatic diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, microvascular thrombotic disorders and debris deposition diseases (especially age-related macular degeneration).

Atkinson is internationally recognized for his research which he has documented in more than 270 peer-reviewed publications. He was an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for 16 years before serving as chair of the Department of Medicine from 1992-1996.

As an educator, Atkinson has trained at least three generations of clinical rheumatologists and academic physician-scientists who now serve as division chiefs and distinguished professors as well as have senior positions in government and the pharmaceutical industry all over the world. He enjoys teaching and mentoring students and fellows. His students have honored him with the Teacher of the Year or Distinguished Service Teaching Award a total of 16 times.  He received the AOA National Distinguished Teacher Award in 1991.

In addition, Atkinson is highly respected as a brilliant clinician particularly talented at making difficult diagnoses. He has served as attending physician in medicine and rheumatology through his career. A skilled diagnostician and empathetic physician, his patients come to his clinic from all over the country, seeking answers for the diagnosis and treatment of their rare/orphan inflammatory syndromes.

He has received many honors recognizing his scientific investigations including the American Association of Immunologists Steinman Award for Human Immunology Research and election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. His international clinical and research stature is evident by his Chairmanship of multiple NIH distinguished boards including currently the Chairman of National Human Genome Research Institute Board of Scientific Counselors.

Atkinson received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Kansas. After an internal medicine internship and residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital and a three year postdoctoral fellowship in immunology and allergy at the NIH, he began his career at Washington University School of Medicine in 1974 as a postdoctoral fellow in allergy and rheumatology in the laboratory of Dr. Charles Parker. He joined the faculty in 1976. He was Chief of the Division of Rheumatology from 1976 to 1992 and then again from 2007 to the present.

The Washington University Medical Center Alumni Association is pleased to present its Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Atkinson.

Published: 04/12/2015