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UC Davis School of Medicine

UC Davis School of Medicine

NEWS | September 6, 2011

UC Davis researcher receives grant for groundbreaking arthritis research

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.)

Iannis Adamopoulos, a UC Davis researcher who specializes in skeletal and immune-system diseases, has been selected as an Arthritis National Research Foundation (ANRF) Scholar and Sontag Foundation Fellow.

Adamopoulos will receive a grant of $75,000 to further his promising research on rheumatoid arthritis. One of 13 ANRF scholars, he is the only awardee to be recognized by the Sontag Foundation.

Iannis Adamopoulos © UC Regents
Dr. Iannis Adamopoulos

"We are delighted to name Dr. Adamopoulos as The Sontag Foundation Fellow for 2011," said philanthropist and Sontag Foundation President Rick Sontag. "His work may provide the next breakthrough to finally end the debilitating disease that plagued my mother for 37 years and ended her life."

Adamopoulos, an assistant professor of internal medicine, discovered that a cytokine known as interleukin 23 (IL-23) is a key regulator of joint inflammation and bone destruction. His finding that abnormal expression of IL-23 causes severe arthritis and bone loss in mice was recently confirmed in human cells. The next step in his research is to determine the potential of IL-23 inhibitors as arthritis treatments.

"Dr. Adamopoulos is shifting the focus of arthritis and bone health investigations toward immune-system cells not previously recognized as significant," said Timothy Albertson, acting chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at UC Davis. "This change is likely to have a profound influence on expanding therapeutic options for those whose arthritis can't be managed with current treatments. It is admirable that the ANRF and Sontag Foundation have the insight to recognize his innovative work."

Prior to joining UC Davis in 2010, Adamopoulos conducted drug discovery research at Schering-Plough Biopharma in Palo Alto, Calif. He holds a B.Sc. honors degree from University of Surrey, an M.Phil. from University College London and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford, Wolfson College, where he received a scholarship for his research on inflammatory arthritis.

Based in Long Beach, Calif., the ANRF provides research grants to outstanding, early-career scientists who are becoming leading researchers in rheumatic disease, autoimmunity and inflammation with the goal of finding new treatments for debilitating, chronic diseases. The ANRF's highly competitive, NIH-level review process -- conducted by its Scientific Advisory Board -- ensures that only top-tier applicants and projects are funded. Each year, the Sontag Foundation fully funds the grant of an ANRF-selected researcher who is studying rheumatoid arthritis. For more information, visit www.curearthritis.org.

The UC Davis School of Medicine is among the nation's leading medical schools, recognized for its research and primary-care programs. The school offers fully accredited master's degree programs in public health and in informatics, and its combined M.D.-Ph.D. program is training the next generation of physician-scientists to conduct high-impact research and translate discoveries into better clinical care. Along with being a recognized leader in medical research, the school is committed to serving underserved communities and advancing rural health. For more information, visit medschool.ucdavis.edu.