Feb. 08, 2012

LFA Awards New Research Grants to Address the Gaps in Understanding and Knowledge of Lupus

Today, the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) announced new research grants awarded to fund critical areas of research where gaps exist in the understanding and knowledge of lupus including: pediatric lupus, cutaneous (skin) lupus, mid-to-late stage translational research, adult stem cells, and neuropsychiatric lupus, which affects the brain and nervous system. The LFA’s National Research Program: Bringing Down the Barriers, is committed to accelerating the pace of medical discovery in lupus and directing support toward promising areas of study where other public and private organizations have not focused their efforts.

Several studies this year focus on important areas of pediatric lupus research, including lupus nephritis in children, quality of life, and central nervous system involvement (CNS) in children. The LFA is the only national organization with a dedicated pediatric lupus research program. Little is known about the long-term impact of the disease on children. Childhood lupus tends to be more severe than adult-onset lupus, and children are at greater risk for life-threatening complications such as damage to their kidneys, heart, lungs, and brain.

This is the first year of funding for the Lucy Vodden Research Grant Award that was established in 2011 by the LFA and musician and LFA Global Ambassador Julian Lennon. The grant will fund the validation of a tool to evaluate the quality of life in children with lupus, allowing for more efficient and accurate self- reported health outcomes. Another significant research study this year will fund a large-scale comparison of available treatments for lupus nephritis in children, to demonstrate a standard of treatment which currently does not exist. The outcomes of the studies could have an immediate and direct impact on the care and quality of life for children with lupus.

The LFA is also funding a potentially breakthrough study that will evaluate the use of adult donor stem cells as a potential pathway for the treatment of lupus. Stem cells as therapeutics is a highly promising but also highly controversial area of research. Some of the controversy revolves around a misunderstanding that there are different types of stem cells being studied for a variety of medical uses. Adult stem cells are the type being investigated for the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as lupus. To read more about stem cells, please visit the LFA’s Web site.

The LFA’s National Research Program: Bringing Down the Barriers™ is dedicated to addressing research issues that have for decades obstructed basic biomedical, clinical, epidemiological, behavioral, and translational lupus research. Using a three-pronged strategy, the LFA and its national network are committed accelerating the pace of lupus research by: directly funding research to close the gaps in lupus research; advocating for expanded investment in research from public and private sources; leading special initiatives and forging collaborative efforts among stakeholders to address critical issues to advancing the science and medicine of lupus. For more information about the LFA’s National Research Program, visit www.lupus.org/research.

2011-2012 LFA National Research Program Grantees

Adult Stem Cells
Gary S. Gilkeson, M.D
Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development
Medical University of South Carolina
“Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Lupus”
This grant is in honor of The Cooper Family Foundation.

Michael Jon Barlin Pediatric Lupus Research Program
Hermine I. Brunner, M.D., M.Sc.

Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Cincinnati Children's Hospital
“Validation of PROMIS Modules for Use in Pediatric Lupus”
This is the Lucy Vodden Research Grant Award, established in memory of Lucy Vodden by the LFA and Julian Lennon.

Emily von Scheven, M.D., M.A.S.
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine
“Standardizing and Optimizing Treatment for Lupus Nephritis in Children”
This grant is made possible in part by funds provided by The Louis Berkowitz Family Foundation, and the LFA, Philadelphia Tri-State Chapter through the generous support of the Scott James Exler Fund for Pediatric Lupus of The Philadelphia Foundation.

Neuropsychiatric Lupus
Eyal Muscal, M.D.

Assistant Professor
Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
“Cerebral Perfusion Abnormalities in Pediatric SLE: a Multi-Modal MRI Study”
This grant is presented in memory of Kassie McMullin Biglow.

Cutaneous LupusCaroline Grönwall, Ph.D.
Instructor of Medicine
NYU School of Medicine
“Mertk and Apoptotic Cell Clearance in Models of Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus”

Mid-to-Late Stage Translational Research
Ian R. Rifkin, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Medicine
Boston University School of Medicine
“Modeling the Effects of type I IFN Blockade Therapy During Different Stages of SLE”
This grant is made possible through support of the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, in memory of Michael Jon Barlin.

About the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation

Wallace Henry Coulter was an engineer, inventor, entrepreneur, and visionary. He was co-founder and Chairman of Coulter®Corporation, a worldwide medical diagnostics company, and through his discovery of the Coulter®Principle, is responsible for the current practice of hematology laboratory medicine.

Named for Coulter, the Foundation is dedicated to the advancement of translational research in biomedical engineering with the goal of accelerating the introduction of new technologies into patient care. The Foundation received its first funding in 1999 and since then has worked with colleges, universities, and professional associations that Wallace Coulter was associated with during his lifetime. His values of endless curiosity, continuous learning, teamwork, consideration, and respect for the individual, coupled with the highest level of ethics and integrity, are the cornerstone values of the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation.