Lupus Foundation of America and Lupus Canada Award Grant for Study Examining Cognitive Dysfunction in People with Lupus
Today, the Lupus Foundation of America and Lupus Canada announced Zahi Touma, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine with the University of Toronto; Clinician-Scientist, Staff Rheumatologist, University Health Network/Mount Sinai Hospital and Michelle Barraclough, PhD, post-doctoral research fellow, University Health Network, as the 2021 Lupus Canada Catalyst Award recipients for their study examining cognitive dysfunction and fatigue in systemic lupus erythematosus.
Drs. Touma and Barraclough will be researching the causes of cognitive dysfunction in patients with lupus. Cognitive dysfunction can affect up to 75% of people with lupus, which often manifests in the form of cognitive fatigue, or “brain fog.” Brain fog can be a common and disruptive symptom of lupus, routinely reported by patients in clinic. The study aims to look at ways of grouping people with lupus according to causes of cognitive problems to help develop future studies to test treatments and ultimately improve these symptoms. The study will use a brain imaging technique known as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to compare the brains of people with lupus to healthy volunteers. This will show if the brains of people with lupus must work harder during cognitive tasks and could explain feelings of “brain fog” due to cognitive dysfunction.
“Cognitive dysfunction is highly prevalent in people with lupus and a commonly reported symptom, however there are limited treatment options available,” shared Dr. Touma. “Because of the support of the Lupus Foundation of America and Lupus Canada, we will be able to improve the assessment of cognitive function in people with lupus and further research in this critical area to ultimately help with future clinical trials and improve the lives of those living with the disease.”
The Lupus Canada Catalyst Award supports and provides funding for one year to Canadian researchers at any stage in their career as they embark on innovative research projects that can advance the lupus field and significantly impact the lives of people with lupus.
“Our partnership with Lupus Canada and the Catalyst Grant program shows the importance of uniting together to support researchers working on groundbreaking studies that can improve the lives of those living with lupus,” said Stevan W. Gibson, president and CEO, Lupus Foundation of America. “Understanding the cognitive impacts of lupus is of critical importance to improving the quality of life for all those that are impacted by this disease.”
“Working together with the Lupus Foundation of America through the Lupus Canada Catalyst Grant program we are ensuring research that can greatly impact people living with lupus has the support it needs while we invest in the brightest lupus researchers in North America,” shared Malcolm Gilroy, Volunteer President, Lupus Canada. “The important work of Drs. Touma and Barraclough studying cognitive dysfunction and fatigue in lupus has incredible promise to improve one of the most common symptoms for those living with lupus, and one that greatly affects their daily lives.”
Learn more about the Lupus Canada Catalyst Grant and the 2021 awardee.