UC Davis researcher M. Eric Gershwin has been recognized with the first Vasco da Gama Award for Explorations in Autoimmunity by Medinterna Association, an international organization dedicated to improving therapeutic strategies for immune-system diseases.
Given during the association’s 11th annual meeting held February 6-9 in Porto, Portugal, the award is named for the 15th century Age of Discovery explorer famous for forging new sea routes to expand spice trade between Portugal and India. Nearly 400 of Gershwin's colleagues in immunology from 15 countries were present as he received the recognition.
“Like da Gama, Dr. Gershwin has been fearless in establishing new and valuable paths of understanding,” said Carlos Dias, president of the Medinterna Association and head of the Medicine Department at S. João Hospital in Porto. “His innovative thinking and discoveries have helped the scientific community make significant progress in finding answers to some of the toughest diseases in medicine.”
Gershwin is chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology and the Jack and Donald Chi Professor of Medicine at UC Davis Health System, where he leads a team of clinicians and researchers who treat and investigate diseases such as lupus, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
Gershwin is well known for being the first to clone an autoantigen, a landmark outcome that has dramatically enhanced understanding of all autoimmune disease. His research focuses on primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), which is characterized by progressive obstruction of the bile ducts of the liver. By clarifying the pathology of PBC — from its genetics to autoimmune mechanisms — he has identified new treatment targets for the devastating disease. As his lab advances science toward a cure, his clinic provides cutting-edge therapies for PBC patients nationwide.
In addition to being a Master of the American College of Physicians and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Gershwin has been recognized by the University of Athens, Japanese Society of Hepatology, University of Milan, and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research in Australia. He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Autoimmunity, among the top 1 percent of quoted researchers in the life sciences and consistently included in Best Doctors in America.