An elderly lady places her hand on her husband's shoulder.

James R. O'Dell, MD, Honored by the Foundation

Dr. O’Dell recognized for bold leadership of the Rheumatology Research Foundation

November 9, 2015

ATLANTA – James R. O’Dell, MD, professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, was recently inducted into the Rheumatology Research Foundation’s Honorary Board of Advisors. The honor is reserved for individuals who have made a transformative contribution, either through monetary support and/or act of leadership, which made an indelible mark on the Foundation’s future fundraising success. 

Dr. O’Dell served as president of the Rheumatology Research Foundation from  2006-2007. Under his leadership, the Foundation embarked on a $30 million Within Our Reach: Finding a Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis campaign. The first-ever campaign sparked an era for extraordinary growth in both program and fundraising at the Foundation. “The Within Our Reach campaign was critical for the Foundation and for rheumatology in general. It supports not only research, but it supports academic divisions of rheumatology, which is where all rheumatologists are trained,” says Dr. O’Dell.

Dr. O’Dell and his wife, Deborah, were also among the first members of the Foundation’s Founder’s Circle, an elite group of supporters that have committed more than $25,000, as well as the Foundation’s Legacy Society.

Mary Wheatley, Executive Director of the Rheumatology Research Foundation, says, “When many thought it could not be done, Dr. O’Dell led the Foundation with a conviction that significant change was possible. With this bold leadership, the Foundation entered a new era of growth and has significantly increased its capacity to fund research and training to advance treatment and care for those living with rheumatic diseases. Dr. O'Dell had the vision to establish the Foundation's innovative research programs while also increasing the Foundation's commitment to recruitment, education and training, and career development. He continues to be an advocate for increased support for rheumatology research and training, and has built a legacy of leadership that continues to serve the Foundation.”

Dr. O’Dell is the William Bruce Distinguished Professor of Internal Medicine, vice-chairman of internal medicine and chief of the section of rheumatology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in Omaha.  He also has served as director of the internal medicine residency training program at UNMC for the last 31 years where he has directed the training of over 700 internal medicine residents.

Dr. O’Dell was inducted into the Foundation’s Honorary Board of Advisors on November 7 at the organization’s Donors of Merit Recognition Event during the American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals Annual Meeting in San Francisco.


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