Early Career Scientists Receive Lupus Research Grants Supporting Critical Studies and Growth of Field
Today, the Lupus Foundation of America announced the recipients of the 2020 Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Award (CDA), a two-year grant supporting the professional growth of early career scientists as they establish their studies in lupus research, helping to grow the lupus research field.
“The Lupus Foundation of America’s Career Development Award plays such an important role in filling the need for more lupus-focused researchers by supporting young scientists at such a pivotal time in their careers – ensuring that they have mentorship during their research, and providing funding that can be difficult to obtain at such an early career stage,” shared Karen H. Costenbader, MD, MPH, Chair of the Lupus Foundation of America’s Medical-Scientific Advisory Council.
The 2020 recipients are:
- Ellen Cody, MD – Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
- Dominique Kinnett-Hopkins, PhD – Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
- Nicholas Li, MD, PhD – The Ohio State University
- Laura Whittall, MD – University Health Network
The grants support young scientists at a crucial time in their career – as they forge their career path. This year, three grantees will be focusing their studies on lupus-related kidney disease (lupus nephritis), an incredibly important area of lupus research. Each grantee works with an established clinical scientist as a mentor, ensuring that grantees have the support and guidance needed during their research.
“The focus of the Career Development Award on young scientists at the beginning of their careers allows experienced mentors like myself to work with very intelligent and driven investigators while guiding them in their studies. The grant also ensures the future of lupus research is bright and increases the likelihood of new breakthroughs,” shared Brad H. Rovin, MD, FACP, FASN, Director of Nephrology, Professor of Medicine and Pathology, The Ohio State University, and member of the Lupus Foundation of America’s Medical-Scientific Advisory Council.
The 2020 Career Development Award recipients are committed to advancing the field by studying the following important areas of lupus research:
- Ellen Cody, MD, will use the Renal Activity Index for Lupus (RAIL), developed to assess the levels of biomarkers in the urine that cause kidney inflammation, to determine active, controlled, improved or absent lupus nephritis across all age-ranges. This study may lead to a tool that doctors can use to better diagnose and monitor lupus nephritis without requiring invasive kidney biopsies.
- Dominique Kinnett-Hopkins, PhD, aims to develop, test and evaluate a progressive home-based, four-month, exercise program for increasing physical activity, which is helpful for managing symptoms like fatigue in people living with lupus. The goal of her research is to decrease fatigue in inactive people with lupus based on social cognitive theory principles of behavior change and motivational interviewing.
- Nicholas Li, MD, PhD, will evaluate the complement system, a mechanism which normally protects the body from injury and infection but in lupus nephritis can harm the kidneys. Measurement of its components in the urine of patients with lupus nephritis will be tested as a marker of kidney complement activity, which could provide a way to match lupus patients with a treatment that directly blocks the pathway to injury of the kidney.
- Laura Whittall, MD, will measure the blood levels of IFN-alpha and Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs), which induce IFN-1 genes – an inflammatory marker that is typically higher in patients who do not respond to lupus nephritis therapy. The study aims to determine if blood levels of IFN-alpha and NETs at the time of a kidney flare in patients with lupus nephritis can be used to predict the response to treatment.
Learn more about the Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Award and its 2020 grantees, here.
Additionally, the Lupus Foundation of America with support from the John & Marcia Goldman Foundation will be providing the second year of funding for the 2019 Career Development Award recipients, who have made significant progress in their research.