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Ellen Gravallese awarded Nachman Prize for research in rheumatology

Award recognizes career achievement, important findings in the field

Carol Nachman Prize recipient Ellen M. Gravallese, MD, is pictured delivering her scientific lecture at the awards ceremony in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Ellen M. Gravallese, MD, has been awarded the Carol Nachman Prize for Rheumatology, the highest international honor for rheumatology research. Dr. Gravallese, the Myles J. McDonough Chair in Rheumatology, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Rheumatology, accepted the prize in Wiesbaden, Germany, from city dignitaries at a ceremony held in the town hall on May 10.

“It is an award that marks a major highlight in a career,” said Gravallese. “As you’re working in the research laboratory, you’re hoping your work will be important and that it will have an impact on disease, and this award provides recognition of that.

The Gravallese lab studies how inflammatory arthritis develops and leads to joint destruction, with the goal of identifying targets for potential treatments. Of particular interest are the mechanisms by which inflammation in soft tissue leads to cartilage and bone destruction in the joints. With funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American College of Rheumatology and the Arthritis Foundation, among others, her lab has identified key molecular and cellular pathways in rheumatoid arthritis and has contributed to new treatment modalities for the disease.

Since coming to UMMS in 2006, Gravallese has grown the Division of Rheumatology into a robust clinical, research and training enterprise. “I’m really grateful for having the opportunity to work at UMMS. It has allowed me to build the division and to continue my research,” she said.

Gravallese has received previous honors, most recently the 2017 Stephen M. Krane Award from the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research for outstanding achievements in basic, translational or clinical research in inflammation and/or skeletal matrix biology. She was appointed an associate editor of the New England Journal of Medicine in 2016 and will begin serving as president of the American College of Rheumatology this November.

Awarded to 80 internationally recognized scientists since its inception in 1972, the Nachman Prize promotes clinical, therapeutic and experimental research in the field of rheumatology. The prize bears the name of its founder, longtime local businessman and Wiesbaden honorary citizen Carol Nachman.

Gravallese continues to advance the field in collaboration with other leaders in the rheumatology research community, including other Nachman Prize recipients. “What the field needs now are ways to determine which patients will respond to which of the many therapies our work has led to,” she said. “Moving the field forward to make a difference for patients has been very rewarding.”

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