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James M. Oleske, MD, MPH, FAAP, François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School, has received a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Pediatric AIDS. The award, which Oleske received in Memphis, Tennessee, on February 23, cites his “contributions in advancing the prevention, diagnoses and treatment of Pediatric HIV/AIDS.”
Oleske was initially appointed to the pediatrics faculty of New Jersey Medical School as an assistant professor in 1976. He co-founded the first Pediatric Allergy/Immunology and Infectious Disease fellowship program in New Jersey in 1978. During the early 1980s, Oleske first recognized that the disease that would come to be known as AIDS had been transmitted at birth to one of his young patients. It was one of the earliest signs that AIDS was a disease that could infect, and take the lives of, children. Through his tireless work treating children in New Jersey and around the world who were afflicted with the disease, Oleske became a powerful voice for young AIDS patients. He also was an important contributor to the pioneering research that led to the identification of the HIV virus. In 1986, Oleske co-founded the Children’s Hospital AIDS program (CHAP), the first dedicated center for the provision of comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, family centered care for infants, children and adolescents infected with HIV.
Since 2002, Oleske has been medical director of the Circle of Life Foundation based at New Jersey Medical School. As advances in treatment have transformed HIV/AIDS from an almost-universally fatal disease to a chronic, manageable illness, he has moved his primary focus to palliative care for young patients who are affected by other devastating childhood illnesses. At the same time, Oleske continues research work aimed toward developing an autologous therapeutic vaccine that can activate a patient’s own immune system to suppress HIV in the body.
Oleske resides in Morris Plains, New Jersey.