Jun. 03, 2013

Summer Fellowships and Career Development Award Announced - Grants Seek to Spur Careers in Research

Awards Will Support Efforts of Tomorrow’s Lupus Thought Leaders to Solve the Cruel Mystery of this Unpredictable and Devastating Disease

The Lupus Foundation of America, the only national force dedicated to solving the cruel mystery of lupus, announced recipients of five new summer fellowships and the Foundation’s first-ever Career Development Award. The Foundation presents these awards to foster interest in a career in lupus research and to support efforts of tomorrow’s lupus scientific thought leaders.

The Foundation’s National Research Program, Bringing Down the Barriers™, aggressively works to advance the science and medicine of lupus and improve the quality of life for people living with this unpredictable and devastating disease. The Foundation’s program includes awards that support researchers throughout their career.

The Gina M. Finzi Memorial Student Summer Fellowship Program is a tribute to Gina M. Finzi, the late daughter of the Foundation’s former President Sergio Finzi, Ph.D. The recipients were selected through a rigorous review process and will work in collaboration with an established lupus researcher. Since 1984, the fellowship program has supported the work of nearly 200 young investigators.

The partnership between student and established investigator is an important component of this unique program. Recipients of this one-of-a-kind valued fellowship program have produced numerous publications in respected peer-reviewed journals, gone on to earn M.D. and Ph.D. degrees, and have become medical practitioners and academic researchers.

“The Lupus Foundation of America is thrilled to welcome the 2013 grantees into the Gina M. Finzi Memorial Student Fellowship Program,” explains Graciela S. Alarcón, M.D., M.P.H., Emeritus Jane Knight Lowe Chair of Medicine, University of Alabama, Birmingham, and Member of the Foundation’s Medical-Scientific Advisory Council. “Through this program, we are able to foster an interest in lupus research among the next generation of young scientists that may not have happened without our support. Our hope is that these efforts, made possible through the fellowship program, advance our understanding of this complex disease, and potentially even lead to the next breakthrough in lupus research.”

The Foundation’s Career Development Award supports the field of lupus research at a time when public and private funding opportunities are becoming more challenging to secure, and when individuals in the early part of their careers must make critical decisions about their future. The award supports the work of clinician-scientists who are transitioning from training to independent careers in lupus research.

The award was created to facilitate the professional development of rheumatology, nephrology, and dermatology fellows who are interested in careers as independent, clinician-scientists at an academic, medical, or research institution with a research program that has a substantial focus on lupus.

More information about the Lupus Foundation of America’s National Research Program is available online at lupus.org/research.
Award Recipients

The 2013 recipients of the Gina Finzi Memorial Student Summer Fellowship are:

Elisabeth Adkins, The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine, and Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts
Mentor: Derry C. Roopenian, Ph.D.
Project title: Origins of Follicular T cells and Interleukin 21 Signaling in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Stefan M. Gysler, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
Mentor: Vikki M. Abrahams, Ph.D.
Project Title: Role of microRNAs in Trophoblast Responses to Antiphospholipid Antibodies

Danusha Jebanesan, University of Toronto & The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Mentor: Robert M. Hamilton, M.D.
Project title: Multiple Targets of Maternal Autoantibodies in Lupus Pregnancies

Hans Kim, State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York
Mentor: Andras Perl, M.D., Ph.D.
Project Title: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance-Based Metabolomic Study for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Morgan Morelli, Allegheny-Singer Research Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Mentor: Joseph M. Ahearn, M.D.
Project Title: Association of PC4d with Thrombosis and Cardiovascular Disease in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

The inaugural recipient of the Foundation’s new Career Development Award is:

Candace H. Feldman, M.D., M.P.H., Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
Mentor: Karen H. Costenbader, M.D., M.P.H.
Project title: Comparative Risks of Infections In Lupus Patients on Immunosuppressants
About the Foundation’s National Research Program

The Lupus Foundation of America convenes lupus experts from many medical specialties to identify the most urgent scientific challenges, and then aggressively pursues an agenda to find answers to the most difficult questions. The Foundation’s National Research Program has a unique three-pronged strategy: lead special initiatives, directly fund researchers, and advocate for expanded investment. Research supported by the Foundation over the past 40 years has led to expanded understanding of the disease and contributed toward many of the lupus-related scientific breakthroughs of the past several decades.
 


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