Lupus Research Award Supports Early Career Scientists, Funds Study Areas of Critical Need
Today, the Lupus Foundation of America announced the recipients of the 2019 Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Award (CDA), which will fund research projects focused on scientific and clinical issues impacting the lupus field. The CDA was designed for fellows and clinicians with the goal of supporting early career scientists and providing mentorship during a critical time in their lupus research career.
The 2019 recipients are:
- Erik Anderson, MD – Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research
- May Choi, MD, FRCPC – University of Calgary
- Emily Littlejohn, DO, MPH – Cleveland Clinic Foundation
- Emily Smitherman, MD – University of Alabama at Birmingham
The grants, funded this year in part by the John & Marcia Goldman Foundation, support young scientists forming a career in the lupus research field when they are forging their future career paths. Recipients are required to work with an established clinical scientist as a mentor, and can be studying in the areas of rheumatology, nephrology or dermatology.
“The Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Award has played an important role in growing the field of lupus-focused researchers. All of our past CDA grantees continue to make an impact in lupus research and are advancing the knowledge of this complex disease,” said Karen H. Costenbader, MD, MPH, chair of Lupus Foundation of America’s Medical-Scientific Advisory Council. “The award not only provides the much needed funding that young scientists need to progress their careers, but it also offers critical mentorship, ensuring each scientist has the guidance needed throughout their research – further supporting their career aspirations.”
Each year, the CDA funds lupus research in areas of critical need, and due to the complexity of lupus this covers a broad range of research topics:
- Erik Anderson, MD, will be researching cognitive dysfunction (CD) and depression in people with lupus. He hopes to establish biomarkers for CD and depression that will be useful for diagnostic purposes and clinical trials.
- May Choi, MD, FRCPC, will be looking at antinuclear antibodies (ANA) associated with autoimmune diseases like lupus. This first and largest study of its kind will test SLE blood samples to identify factors influencing ANA expression over time to inform SLE classification, eligibility for clinical trials, utilization of ANA testing, and provide further insights into the B cell dynamics in SLE which could lead to better predicting disease activity and outcomes.
- Emily Littlejohn, DO, MPH, will be studying ANA to address a gap in knowledge about ANA trajectories and changes over time, and provide data to guide decision making into when to order ANA testing. The study will also enable researchers to acquire the expertise necessary to lead a clinical research program devoted to SLE that will leverage advances in electronic health records and bioinformatics.
- Emily Smitherman, MD, will be studying children with lupus to answer questions about the social determinants of health in children with lupus and their effect on disease activity. The study aims to produce a risk assessment of high disease activity in children that could then be validated for use in clinical care.
“The John & Marcia Goldman Foundation recognizes the importance of supporting young lupus physician scientists at their earliest career stages, when funding can be difficult to find and they are making important choices on their field of study,” explained Sophia Colamarino, Ph.D., Director of the foundation’s Science & Health Program. “The Lupus Foundation of America Career Development Award plays a big role in keeping the best and brightest in the lupus research field and paves the path forward for the next generation of lupus clinicians.”
Learn more about the Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Award and its 2019 grantees, here.