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Funded Research in Childhood Lupus

2014-2018: Detecting Kidney Flares in Children Early On

Kidney disease often goes undetected until it’s too late, and kidney damage in children can result in a lifetime of hospital visits for these young patients. Dr. Kathleen Sullivan of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is researching HER2, a gene that can play a role in the development of breast cancer and investigating whether it can anticipate flares in children with lupus. Results of this research may lead to real-time evaluation of disease activity. Her 5-year project has led to several publications and Dr. Sullivan currently has patents pending.

2013:  An innovative approach for disease management for teens with lupus 

For teens with lupus, mastering disease self-management is a crucial process required to successfully transition to independent, adult care and to prevent worsening of disease severity. Dr. Scalzi, Pediatric Rheumatologist at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and her team developed an 8 week Facebook based program that combined education, disease management and interpersonal support. The program, which published results in 2018 found that it was effective in increasing medication adherence and increasing feelings of empowerment, community and self-efficacy. Read more

2008: Novel methods to detect brain changes in adolescents with lupus

Lupus is a disease that can affect any organ or system, including the brain. Disease effects on the brain in lupus are thought to happen through changes in the brain’s white matter and result in challenges with tasks such as problem solving or organization. When these white-matter brain changes happen in adolescence, the problem is more difficult and important to detect early and treat. Dr. Muscal’s study will be able to better define what changes in white-matter are causing disease. His study was also a first step in establishing how doctors can use brain imaging to detect lupus brain damage early.