2020 Ekbom Award Presented Virtually

November 2, 2020 Dr. John Winkelman and Karla Dzienkowski Receive the 2020 Ekbom Award Two unsuspecting recipients were awarded the 2...

November 2, 2020
Dr. John Winkelman and Karla Dzienkowski Receive the 2020 Ekbom Award

Two unsuspecting recipients were awarded the 2020 Ekbom Award while live streaming on the 2020 RLS Foundation Virtual Summit. This prestigious award honors individuals who have enhanced the lives of people with RLS and made significant contributions to the RLS community. Winkelman, who was in transit to join a panel of RLS experts on the Zoom meeting, accepted the award from his car! Dzienkowski accepted her award from her daughter, Ali Dzienkowski, at her home office while hosting the RLS Virtual Summit.

John W. Winkelman, MD, PhD

John Winkelman, MD, PhD is currently the Chief of the Sleep Disorders Clinical Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. John received his PhD in Psychobiology from Harvard University, an MD from Harvard Medical School and then completed both a residency in Psychiatry and a fellowship in Sleep Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. Winkelman has served on the RLS Foundation Medical Advisory Board, which later became the combined Scientific and Medical Advisory Board, since 2001. He was among the researchers who conducted studies that led to the approval by the FDA, in 2005, of the first dopamine agonist for treatment of RLS. He designed and is managing a major research program to measure the long-term efficacy and safety of opioids to treat RLS – The Opioid Registry. That groundbreaking program, now in its third year, has some 500 participants. He has recently contributed to the Mayo Clinic Proceedings Revised Consensus Statement on the Management of Restless Legs Syndrome to be published in early 2021. But Winkelman's life work in RLS research is not the only story here. His treatment and care of his thousands of RLS patients over the years is what makes him so beloved by this community. His persistence and dedication to providing relief to his RLS patients has changed lives and sometimes saved lives when RLS seemed to crush all hope of living with this disease.

"John Winkelman has devoted his life's work to helping RLS and sleep related patients access to the correct and most up to date medications in hopes of a more normal life. He is truly deserving of this Ekbom Award and I, as well as his many patients, thank him for his passionate commitment to RLS." - Bobbie Kittredge, 2016 Ekbom Award recipient

“William Osler said: "The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.” John has brought his intelligence, energy and enthusiasm to inhabit the realm of Restless Legs Syndrome, so as to better understand the patient and their suffering. Thus, he is truly deserving of this award.” - Christopher J. Earley, MB, BCh, PhD, FRCPI, 2017 Ekbom Award recipient

Karla M. Dzienkowski, RN, BSN

Karla Dzienkowski, RN, BSN became the executive director at the RLS Foundation in 2014. Memberships and donations were no longer growing and the Board of Directors recognized the need for a dynamic leader to put the organization back on a growth path while creating new initiatives to improve the lives of those living with RLS. Fortunately, the right leader was available. Dzienkowski had served on the RLS Foundation Board of Directors from 2004 – 2009, as its Vice-Chair from 2007 to 2009. Her leadership of the organization has been powered both by her training as a nurse and her experience as a mother with a daughter with RLS.

Since accepting the position as executive director, Karla has broadened the base of support and created new programs supporting the RLS community. Working with a small, energetic staff, memberships have doubled and the Research Grant Program has been re-energized. Dzienkowski has spearheaded innovative programs ranging from the 2018 RLS Patient Symposium and the RLS Physician Education on-demand series to developing a targeted collection of RLS resources for children and teens with RLS. She has built a strong RLS advocacy program and expanded the RLS Quality Care Center Program to eleven centers with more being certified in the coming months. All of her efforts have positioned the Foundation to begin its fourth decade of service to the RLS community as the premier patient-centered organization working on behalf of everyone with the disease.

“As someone who has shown a rare combination of drive and imagination, giving all of herself and then more to this organization, I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award than Karla.” - Christopher J. Earley, MB, BCh, PhD, FRCPI, 2017 Ekbom Award recipient

Karla Dzienkowski's Ekbom Award should not be a surprise to anyone who knows her. She has brought change and growth to the Foundation with her positive attitude and sheer determination to make this a great organization. Thank you, Karla, for your commitment to excellence. - Bobbie Kittredge, 2016 Ekbom Award recipient

Past recipients of the Ekbom Award include Lewis Phelps (2018), Dr. Christopher Earley (2017), Roberta Kittredge (2016), Dr. Michael Silber (2014), Pickett Guthrie (2008), Dr. Wayne Henning, posthumously (2008), Robert Waterman (2007), Sheila Connolly (2005), Robert Balkam (2003), Cate Murray (2001), Dr. Richard Allen (2000) and Dr. Arthur Walters (1999).

The RLS Foundation is grateful to the Ekbom family for allowing their name to be used for this distinguished award in honor of Dr. Ekbom and his work.

Watch the videos here:

John Winkelman, MD, PhD - https://www.youtube.com/embed/itwjly6kp6E

Karla Dzienkowski, RN, BSN - https://www.youtube.com/embed/n8RW9r0Zul8

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