Oct. 01, 2015

Five New Research Studies Funded to Improve Quality of Life for People with Lupus

(October 1, 2015 – Washington, DC) – The Lupus Foundation of America (Foundation), the only national force dedicated to solving the cruel mystery of lupus, today announced five additional research grants as part of the Foundation’s ongoing efforts to enable lupus investigators to conduct critical studies on this unpredictable and devastating autoimmune disease.

“The researchers and projects receiving funding have the potential to lead to better treatments and, ultimately, a better quality of life for people with lupus,” said Gary S. Gilkeson, M.D., Professor of Medicine/Microbiology and Immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina, and Chair of the Lupus Foundation of America Medical-Scientific Advisory Council. “Supporting innovative lupus researchers is a priority for the Lupus Foundation of America. Only by funding vital research, can we achieve our goal of solving the cruel mystery of lupus.”

The Foundation’s LIFELINE Grant Program™ provides a year’s worth of salary support for faculty who experience a gap in external funding for a specific, previously funded study due to the decreased funding available from government sources. The award is intended to keep an investigator’s project on track while they reapply for larger federal grants.

This year’s LIFELINE recipients are:

  • Jennifer Anolik, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY. Dr. Anolik’s project will explore how immune cells interact in the bone marrow of people with lupus and in relevant mouse models in order to better understand the development and progression of lupus. This grant award is provided through a trust created in memory of Stephen and Catherine Pida.
  • Trine N. Jorgensen, Ph.D., Assistant Staff, Department of Immunology, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH. Dr. Jorgensen’s project will investigate how the mechanisms of immune cells called plasmacytoid dendritic cells, found to be elevated in people with lupus, may lead to the development of lupus. This grant is made possible, in part, by funds provided by the Lupus Foundation of America Greater Ohio Chapter and is presented in memory of Kassie McMullin Biglow.

The Foundation also awarded grants for the study of lupus in children and adolescents through the Michael Jon Barlin Pediatric Research Program, established with the support of the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation:

  • Pediatric Health Outcomes – Earl Silverman, M.D., FRCPC, Division of Rheumatology, SickKids Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, has been awarded the 2015 Lucy Vodden Research, established in memory of Lucy Vodden, by the Lupus Foundation of America and Julian Lennon. This grant is also made possible by funds provided by the Louis Berkowitz Family Foundation.  Dr. Silverman’s project aims to identify new genetic factors important to kidney function and risk of kidney failure in children with lupus.
  • Adult Stem Cells – Nora G. Singer, M.D., Division Chief of Rheumatology, The MetroHealth System, Cleveland, OH, has been awarded a grant for a project that aims to develop biomarkers that can sensitively detect the therapeutic effect of adult stem cells on people with childhood and adult onset lupus. She will use these biomarkers to develop a test that can be used in clinical trials of mesenchymal stem cells for lupus. This grant is made possible in part by funds provided by the Lupus Foundation of America Greater Ohio Chapter.

Finally, the Foundation awarded a grant to study environmental triggers of lupus to:

  • James J. Pestka, Ph.D., University Distinguished Professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. Dr. Pestka’s project will look at whether dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, may prevent the inflammation and subsequent autoimmunity caused respirable crystalline silica.

In evaluating submitted applications, the Lupus Foundation of America employs a rigorous, peer-review system that utilizes the same method for review as other major funders of medical research such as National Institutes of Health.
 


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