Dr. O’Dell to receive ACR’s highest award

James O’Dell, MD, will receive the American College of Rheumatology’s (ACR) highest award — the Presidential Gold Medal — in November during its annual meeting.

The award is bestowed in recognition of outstanding achievements in rheumatology over an entire career. Established by the past presidents of the ACR, candidates have made important contributions in multiple areas such as clinical medicine, research, education, or administration. Funding support for the award of distinction is provided by the Rheumatology Research Foundation.

Dr. O’Dell, Stokes Shackleford Professor, vice chair of education in the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine and chief of the UNMC Division of Rheumatology, will receive a one-time, merit-based award and an award of $5,000.

“This is certainly well-deserved and is one more way Dr. O’Dell brings recognition to UNMC for scholarly and clinical work in rheumatology,” said Deb Romberger, MD, Henry J. Lehnhoff Professor and chair of the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine.

“The award is another of the many accolades that Dr. O’Dell has received over the course of his outstanding career,” said Bradley Britigan, MD, dean of the UNMC College of Medicine. “It is wonderful to see that the American College of Rheumatology recognizes the outstanding clinician, educator and investigator that Jim O’Dell is.”

Nominations written on his behalf call him a person who is highly esteemed, a major figure and contributor to the field of rheumatology with personality, commitment, intelligence, personal integrity and skill with people and with science.

Wrote one nominator: “He is a person of remarkable ability, creativity and competency. He has a quiet and self-critical demeanor who has been a major presence in our field in advancing and improving rheumatology clinical science, training and as an advocate for patients, learners and scholars.

“At his home institution in Nebraska, in the United States, and worldwide, he has made remarkable contributions in improving the lives of many hundreds of thousands of people whom he has touched though his medical practice, his path-breaking research, and through the over three decades of medical students, residents and trainees he has taught,” the nominator wrote.

Over the past 35 years, Dr. O’Dell has overseen the training of more than 600 internists and 1,000 residents. He served as president of the ACR and of the Rheumatology Research Foundation, its research branch, which Dr. O’Dell calls some of the biggest highlights of his career.

“This award is a wonderful surprise, a huge honor and extremely humbling,” Dr. O’Dell said. “The award importantly recognizes our whole UNMC rheumatology team and what we have been able to accomplish here over the last quarter century. I’m also very proud of helping establish the ACR’s national disease registry and initiating disease target research fund raising that now raises millions of dollars yearly to support research across the country.”


  1. Steve Wengel says:

    Congratulations on this high, and well-deserved, honor, Dr O'Dell!

  2. Meg Johnson says:

    Congratulations, Dr. O'Dell. A very well deserved honor. It is a pleasure to work with you.

  3. Dawn Franklin says:

    Dr ODell-Congrats! So glad to be part of this division.

  4. Tom O’Connor says:

    U da’ man, Jim! What a career!

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