Lee C. Howley Sr. Prize for Arthritis Scientific Research

2016 Call for Nominations

This solicitation is now closed. Thanks to all who submitted nominations.

Prize Description

The Lee C. Howley Sr. Prize for Arthritis Scientific Research recognizes contributions during the previous year that have significantly advanced the understanding, treatment or prevention of arthritis and related diseases. It is a fitting memorial to Lee C. Howley Sr., former chair of Revco D.S., Inc., who was instrumental in the establishment of the Revco Arthritis Research Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

On behalf of the more than 50 million Americans who have arthritis, the Arthritis Foundation extends our gratitude to the Howley family for making this prize possible. The recognition this program offers for excellence in arthritis research will ensure that the search will continue for cures to the more than 100 forms of arthritis and related diseases. The Howley family's expression of commitment offers hope that one day the problems of arthritis will be solved.

2015 Lee C. Howley Sr. Award Recipient

The Lee C. Howley Sr. Prize for Arthritis Scientific Research has long recognized excellence in arthritis research. Over the past several years, however, it has become increasingly clear that the complexities of arthritis can benefit from the results of more cross-functional, collaborative scientific discovery.  With this in mind, the Howley Prize now recognizes the best original research conducted in the United States by an interdisciplinary team that has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The 2015 prize-winning team included Levi B. Watkin, Birthe Jessen, Wojciech Wiszniewski, Timothy J. Vece, Max Jan, Youbao Sha,  Maike Thamsen, Regie L. P. Santos-Cortez, Kwanghyuk Lee, Tomasz Gambin, Lisa R. Forbes,  Christopher S. Law, Asbjørg Stray-Pedersen, Mickie H. Cheng, Emily M. Mace, Mark S. Anderson,  Dongfang Liu, Ling Fung Tang, Sarah K. Nicholas, Karen Nahmod, George Makedonas, Debra L. Canter,  Pui-Yan Kwok, John Hicks, Kirk D. Jones, Samantha Penney, Shalini N. Jhangiani, Michael D. Rosenblum, Sharon D. Dell, Michael R. Waterfield, Feroz R. Papa, Donna M. Muzny, Noah Zaitlen, Suzanne M. Leal, Claudia Gonzaga-Jauregui, Baylor-Hopkins Center for Mendelian Genomics, Eric Boerwinkle,  N. Tony Eissa, Richard A. Gibbs, James R. Lupski, Jordan S. Orange and Anthony K. Shum.

Their report, “COPA mutations impair ER-Golgi transport and cause hereditary autoimmune-mediated lung disease and arthritis,” was published in Nature Genetics. This interdisciplinary scientific discovery team from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital used the latest genome sequencing techniques to identify a new autoimmune syndrome characterized by a combination of severe lung disease and arthritis that currently has no therapy. The hereditary disorder, which appears in early childhood, had never been diagnosed as a single syndrome. The new discovery revealed that it is caused by mutations in a single gene that disrupt how proteins are shuttled around within cells. Patients with the newly discovered syndrome have a poor prognosis, and at present can only be treated with anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant drugs. Many have lung disease so severe that they must receive lung transplants.

Previous Recipients

Previous Recipients Since 1984


The purpose of the prize is to recognize team science in action that will lead to a faster cure for arthritis and related diseases.

Sponsoring Organization

A prize of $10,000 is presented by the Arthritis Foundation. Support is provided by a generous endowment from the Howley Family. Award recipients must apply the prize funds toward the field of arthritis research (e.g., travel to a professional meeting to present findings, mentoring a student, laboratory costs, publication costs, etc.).


This prize is for the best original research conducted in the United States by an interdisciplinary team that was published in a peer-reviewed journal. The date of the publication must be between January 1, 2015, and December 31, 2015. The nominator may not be an author or co-author of the nominated paper.

Evaluation Criteria

Nominated publications are evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Significance (25%): The research is in alignment with the mission of the Arthritis Foundation, which is focused on finding a cure and championing the fight against arthritis and related diseases with life-changing information, advocacy, science and community. 
  • Innovation (25%): The research challenges existing paradigms and presents an innovative hypothesis and/or addresses a research gap, accelerates translational research, removes barriers and/or catalyzes the development of the field of arthritis and related diseases. The research develops or employs novel concepts, approaches, methods, tools and/or technologies.
  • Approach (25%): The purpose of the research is clearly stated. The research rationale, methods, results and implications must be presented in a logical manner. Conclusions are grounded in the results.
  • Interdisciplinary Team (25%): The research accomplishes a specific scientific goal that otherwise would not be realized by any single component of the team.

Instructions for Submitting Nominations

Please submit nominations via email to AFScience@arthritis.org and include the following: 

  • A single nomination letter describing in one page or less why the published research meets the Evaluation Criteria listed above (significance, innovation, approach and interdisciplinary team)
  • A PDF of the publication

Prize Recipient(s)

Nominations are peer reviewed by experts who do not have a conflict of interest. The prize will be presented at the Arthritis Foundation’s Annual Meeting during the Evening of Honors program on November 3, 2016, in Denver. Travel support to the meeting is provided for a maximum of two members of the prize-winning team.