Pioneering Women in

Complement Research

Under the direction of Claudia Kemper and Andrea Tenner, ICS will honor three Pioneering Women who served as role models for the early career scientists and for their impactful research contributions in complement.  They have been invited to the ICW Berlin meeting to be honored and receive their awards.
Congratulations to the ICS Pioneer Women
Irma Gigli

Dr. Irma Gigli is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas (UT) Houston. She worked as a clinical (Dermatology) academic and was among the first physician scientists working at the interface of basic immunology and skin diseases. Her contributions particularly to complement research span from significantly increasing our understanding about the evolution of complement regulatory proteins (Factor H and C4bp) to being the first to demonstrate that proteases from a pathogen – Entamoeba histolytica – can degrade key complement effector molecules, such as C3 or anaphylatoxins.

After her residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Gigli spent basic research time at New York University, followed by three years at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Miami, Florida, and two years in Germany (University of Frankfurt) before she joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School, where she worked until 1976. After a ‘stint’ in Oxford, Oxford, UK, and a Professorship at New York University, she accepted a post as Chief of Division of Dermatology at UC San Diego and finally moved to UT Houston, where she was appointed as Professor of Medicine and Dermatology and Vice Chair of Medical Sciences. She co-founded the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine Center for the Prevention of Human Diseases at UT Houston and served as deputy Director. Dr. Gigli won numerous prices throughout her distinguished career (including being an elected member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Board of Directors of the US Civilian Research and Development Foundation. Above all, she is recognized as outstanding and ‘life-long’ mentor to the many clinical and basic research students and fellows she trained during her career.


Irma made important pioneering discoveries in the Complement field, beginning in 1966 when she worked with Robert Nelson in Miami, and then from 1968, with Frank Austen in Boston. In the 1980s, she published important papers with Robert Sim and Victor Nussenzweig. Altogether, she published almost 100 papers in the complement field, many of them pioneering in the early stages of Complement research.

Patricia Creveling Giclas

Dr. Giclas started her academic studies at the University of Arizona in 1956, majoring in physics and mathematics. After two years she stepped away from her schooling to raise her two sons. She returned to school at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology where she was awarded a BS in 1970. She earned her PhD at the University of Arizona (U of A) in 1976. While her degree was from the U of A was in molecular biology it was there she started working on complement, culminating in her dissertation “Activation of complement by heart subcellular membranes”. From there Dr. Giclas did a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Immunopathology at the Scripps Clinical and Research Foundation from 1975 to 1977, during a time when Scripps had one of the nation’s most dynamic, and competitive complement research programs. Dr. Giclas followed Peter Hansen to the institution now named National Jewish Health to complete a second postdoctoral fellowship. It was at National Jewish where Dr. Giclas build her independent career and made her greatest contributions to the field of complement. When in the 1970’s funding for complement research largely disappeared in the US, she was not deterred from her love of the field, instead she turned her skills in complement to the benefit of patients and physicians. Dr. Giclas developed a strong reputation and following for both the strength and breadth of her complement testing and for the depth of her knowledge of complement biology in the role of complement in human disease and how that role plays out in complement testing. Dr. Giclas has over seventy peer reviewed publications in the field .Her dozen or so reviews and multiple manuals published on the methods of complement testing are perhaps even more important. Dr. Giclas also brought her passion for complement to her art. In addition to her award-winning painting and print block work, Dr. Giclas work incorporating complement has utilized by the ICS including as the logo for the 2018 ICW meeting in Santa Fe New Mexico. In my opinion, complement analysis would not be where it is today if Dr. Giclas had not been such an advocate for the field. There are countless patients and their families who were given answers to the reasons for their suffering because of the testing she so patiently pursued.

Jarmila Janatova


Jarmila Janatova was a superb and creative biochemist.   Some of her earliest and certainly significant work was to provide evidence for the thioester bond in C3, and provide insight into the chemical nature of the binding of C3 and C4 to membranes.  She completed and published work after the tragic death of her colleague James Prahl in 1979.  As an adjunct professor at the University of Utah, she was phenomenally productive in the characterization of structure and function of C3 and C4 in the 1980’s and 90’s while raising two children, and playing an active role in the early complement workshops (ICW XVIII 2000, Salt Lake City, Utah).


  • Evidence for presence of an internal thioester bond in third component of human complement. Tack BF, Harrison RA, Janatova J, Thomas ML, Prahl JW. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1980 Oct;77(10):5764-8. PMID: 6934510

  • Third component of human complement: structural requirements for its function. Janatova J, Tack BF, Prahl JW. Biochemistry. 1980 Sep 16;19(19):4479-85. PMID: 7407086

  • Third component of human complement: appearance of a sulfhydryl group following chemical or enzymatic inactivation. Janatova J, Lorenz PE, Schechter AN, Prahl JW, Tack BF. Biochemistry. 1980 Sep 16;19(19):4471-8. PMID: 7407085

ICS Pioneer Women


-To showcase female complementologists as role models for the early career female scientists in the field.


-To honor the female members of the complement community for their impactful research contributions.



-Recognized and presented a certificate at the ICW 2021 Berlin

-One-page article in the FoC Newsletter

-Highlighted on the ICS website



-Female candidates that have made major contributions to complement research

-Must be retired and/or not currently active in research

International Complement Society

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Windermere, FL 34786-8328


T: 407-876-5973


Sheilah Jewart

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