John Atkinson and Adia Harvey Wingfield will receive Washington University in St. Louis’ 2022 faculty achievement awards, Chancellor Andrew D. Martin announced.
They will be honored at the university’s annual Founders Day dinner in the fall.
Physician-scientist Atkinson, MD, the Samuel B. Grant Professor of Medicine at the School of Medicine, will receive the Carl and Gerty Cori Faculty Achievement Award. Wingfield, PhD, the Mary Tileston Hemenway Professor in Arts & Sciences, will receive the Arthur Holly Compton Faculty Achievement Award.
“We’re exceptionally proud to have esteemed scholars like John Atkinson and Adia Harvey Wingfield on the Washington University faculty,” Martin said.
“It’s a pleasure to be able to recognize them among their peers with these faculty achievement awards. Through their groundbreaking work on rare genetic diseases and the sociology of race, gender and class, respectively, they are ensuring that we stay at the forefront of world-class research in areas that are of great significance to our society today. I’m inspired by their brilliance as scientists and educators, and I thank them for their service to the academy and the world.”
Atkinson, a rheumatologist, is also a professor of molecular microbiology. He is a leading expert on the role of the complement system in infectious, autoimmune and other inflammatory diseases. This system is an ancient set of proteins that guards the body against bacterial and viral infections by promoting the inflammatory response. A fundamental component of the human immune system, the complement system plays a significant role in the manifestation of many diseases.
In recent years, Atkinson has helped unveil the causes and pathogenesis of autoimmune rheumatic diseases such as lupus and degenerative conditions such as age-related macular degeneration.
Atkinson also has trained generations of graduate students and rheumatology fellows and has treated patients from all over the country who come to his clinic seeking answers regarding rare inflammatory syndromes. He helped discover and identify the mutation in a rare, genetic, microvascular disease known as retinal vasculopathy with cerebral leukoencephalopathy and systemic manifestation (RVCL-S). The disease causes progressive visual loss, brain dysfunction and, eventually, death in middle age. Atkinson co-directs the RVCL Research Center at Washington University.
He earned his bachelor’s and medical degrees from the University of Kansas. He then trained in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). His postdoctoral research training was at the NIH and Washington University.
From 1976 to 1992, Atkinson was director of Washington University’s Division of Rheumatology as well as an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. From 1992-97, he was head of the Department of Medicine.
Wingfield, who is also the vice dean for faculty development and diversity in Arts & Sciences, is a leading sociology expert in gender equity and racial inequality in the workplace. Her research examines how and why racial and gender inequality persists in professional occupations.
Wingfield’s theory of “racial outsourcing,” explains how organizations rely on Black professionals to do “equity work,” or the extra labor that makes the organization accessible to communities of color. This additional work is largely uncompensated, unrecognized and unrewarded. Her award-winning book, “Flatlining: Race, Work, and Health Care in the New Economy,” details this practice in U.S. hospitals.
Wingfield uses this scholarship to advocate for and implement changes that create more equitable workplaces. For instance, she is currently piloting a program with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to create more racial equality in health care.
Wingfield is also the author of “No More Invisible Man: Race and Gender in Men’s Work.” Her work has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals including Social Problems, Gender & Society and American Sociological Review.
She has served as president of both Sociologists for Women in Society and the Southern Sociological Society and is an elected member of the Sociological Research Association.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Spelman College and both master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology from Johns Hopkins University. She joined the faculty of Washington University in 2015.