Dr. Polly Ferguson (Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology) was awarded with the American College of Rheumatology’s (ACR) Distinguished Service Award during the 2019 ACR/ARP Annual Meeting in Atlanta. The award reflects her outstanding contributions to the advancement of rheumatology.
The ACR recognizes leading researchers, clinicians, mentors, and other professionals exhibiting superior commitment to the advancement of the field of rheumatology with the Awards of Distinction honors. The Distinguished Service Award is awarded to an ACR member for outstanding and sustained service to the ACR.
The ACR Distinguished Service Award is presented to Polly Ferguson, MD, the Marjorie K. Lamb Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Iowa (UIowa).
Dr. Ferguson strongly believes in the ACR’s mission for a multitude of reasons. She says the organization provides those in academic medicine with opportunities to advance their career, advocates for patients and providers on a governmental level to ensure needed care is delivered, and leads clinicians, researchers, and practitioners in the rheumatology field. That’s why it was easy, she says, to volunteer for numerous committees over the years.
She has served on at least eight different committees, including the Pediatric Rheumatology Section Executive Committee, the Committee on Research, the Abstract Review Committee, the Abstract Oversight Committee, a research sub-committee of the Government Affairs Committee, the Committee on Nominations and Appointments (ACR), the Committee on Membership and Nominations, the JIA Treatment Guideline Development Group, and chaired the Pediatric Rheumatology Special Committee.
Not to mention her current service as a member of the NIH/NIAID Board of Scientific Counselors, the Arthritis Foundation Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee, and the American Board of Pediatrics Rheumatology sub-board.
Dr. Ferguson received her medical degree from the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine at UIowa in 1990. During the next decade, she completed her training at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville, which included her pediatric residency, pediatric rheumatology and immunology fellowship, and a postdoctoral research fellowship.
Then in 2000, she served for two years as an assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. But in 2002, she returned to UIowa where she now serves as the director of Pediatric Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology at the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics at UIowa.
Her current NIH-funded research focuses on uncovering the genetic and immunologic basis of autoinflammatory disease, particularly those that affect the bone, and understanding the role of inflammation in neurologic disease. She has identified several genes that cause sterile osteomyelitis and has translated findings into effective treatment. Her work has been cited in medical journals more than 5,000 times.
Meanwhile, she has mentored many undergraduate, graduate, post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty from UIowa and other schools. She also serves as the training director of the school’s Department of Pediatrics K12 Child Health Research Career Development Award (CHRCDA) Program.
“What means the most to me about this award is that that my peers thought to nominate me when there are so many other outstanding volunteers, and that they value what I’ve done,” says Dr. Ferguson. “It’s a very humbling experience.”