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CHICAGO - James R. O’Dell, MD, a rheumatologist and professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., was appointed 2012 president of the American College of Rheumatology at the ACR’s annual business meeting held this week in Chicago.

Dr. O’Dell is the Bruce Professor of Internal Medicine, vice-chair of internal medicine, and chief of the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. For the past 27 years, Dr. O’Dell has served as the director of the institution’s Internal Medicine Residence Training Program, directing the training of more than 600 residents.

Dr. O’Dell graduated from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. He earned his medical degree at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and then completed a residency and chief residency in internal medicine at the institution. In 1984, he completed a clinical and research fellowship in rheumatology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.

In addition to his leadership role at UNMC, Dr. O’Dell is the founder and director of the Rheumatoid Arthritis Investigational Network (called RAIN) - a 22-year-old group of rheumatologists conducting exclusively investigator-initiated trials to find better treatments for rheumatoid arthritis. The group’s achievements include pioneering the use of triple therapy to treat RA, describing genetic factors that predict response to therapy, and designing and participating in studies to compare the efficacy of conventional and biologic DMARDs. Dr. O’Dell is also principal investigator of a large, multinational RA research study through the Veterans Administration’s Cooperative Studies Program.

Dr. O’Dell’s many scholarly publications include articles on his study of the success of triple therapy and authorship of a review, “Therapeutic Strategies for Rheumatoid Arthritis,” in the New England Journal of Medicine. He has published more than 100 articles in top rheumatology journals, and served as co-editor of Arthritis & Rheumatism, published by ACR, from 2005-10. He presents frequently at national and international medical meetings.

His honors and awards include being named the University of Nebraska University-Wide Outstanding Teacher, receiving the Nebraska ACP Laureate Award, and being named a distinguished scientist at UNMC. In 2008, Dr. O’Dell received the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine Career Research Award.

Dr. O’Dell’s has served in many leadership positions with ACR and its Research and Education Foundation for the past 20 years.  He was president of the REF from 2005-2007, secretary of ACR in 2009, and ACR president-elect in 2011. He served as chair of Patient Giving for the REF’s Within Our Reach campaign, chair of the ACR Registry Task Force, and first chair of the ACR Registry and Health Information Technology Committee. Some of his earlier committee leadership roles include serving as chair of the Annual Scientific Meeting Abstract Selection Committee in 1998 and 1999, serving on the committee that developed the ACR Guidelines for the Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis in 1996, and serving on the Blue Ribbon Committee on Access to Care in 1999. Recently, Dr. O’Dell chaired the association’s Rheumatoid Arthritis Clinical Trial Investigators Ad Hoc Task Force, whose findings were published in the August 2011 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

A vocal supporter of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers sports teams, Dr. O’Dell has been married to home health nurse Deb O’Dell for 38 years. Their children include Kim and Andy Vasey, Jennie and Dan Egermayer, and Scott and Melissa O’Dell. They have two grandchildren, Georgie Mae Egermayer and Aiden James Vasey.  Dr. O’Dell’s hobbies include travel and woodworking.

The American College of Rheumatology is an international professional medical society that represents more than 8,000 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals around the world. Its mission is to advance rheumatology. The ACR/ARHP Annual Scientific Meeting is the premier meeting in rheumatology. For more information about the meeting, visit or join the conversation on Twitter by using the official hashtag: #ACR2011

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