OCTOBER 20, 2006 – NEW YORK -- The Lupus Research Institute, a first-tier novel lupus research funding organization, announced today that it has awarded $4.5 million in Novel Research Grants to 15 scientists to pursue new approaches to prevent, treat and cure lupus. The grants provide the scientists with $300,000 over three years to explore their hypotheses, enabling them to expand lupus research in new directions and ultimately advance new lupus treatments. The grant awards were announced at the Institute's annual Forum for Discovery conference, held October 19-20, 2006, at the Yale Club in New York.
With these awards, the Lupus Research Institute's investment in novel lupus research totals almost $20 million, providing funding for 73 studies at 43 academic medical institutions in 22 states since its founding in 2000.
"This is the largest number and widest scope of novel private sector research studies in lupus in the country," said Margaret Dowd, president of the Lupus Research Institute.
"These awards reinforce the Lupus Research Institute's strategy of selecting and funding only novel ideas – an approach that continues to attract researchers and scientists from diverse specialties and bring new thinking to lupus research," Dowd said. "Almost half (7) of the studies we are funding this year are classified as "high risk/high reward"--new and untried theories that show great promise for changing lupus research."
A breakdown of the 2006 recipients reveals that:
"This year's group of awardees is a great mix of established investigators taking new directions and younger investigators embarking on novel research," said Mark Shlomchik, MD, PhD, Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Immunobiology at the Yale University School of Medicine, and Co-chair of the Lupus Research Institute Novel Research Task Force. "The Lupus Research Institute is supporting both basic and applied studies that will have an impact on this challenging disease. The supported research ranges from genes that are important for keeping the immune system in balance to the potential novel roles of bacteria in triggering lupus. The newly funded investigators will also apply themselves to neuropsychiatric lupus and to developing new methods to directly visualize B lymphocytes--major culprits--in patients, thereby bringing novel ideas directly to the clinic."
2006 Lupus Research Institute Novel Grant Recipients
Harvey Cantor, MD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Robert Eisenberg, MD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Keith Elkon, MD, University of Washington
Jan Erikson, PhD, The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia
Lee Ann Garrett-Sinha, PhD, SUNY Buffalo
Eric Greidinger, MD, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Thereza Imanishi-Kari, PhD, Tufts University School of Medicine
Michele Kosiewicz, PhD, University of Louisville Research Foundation
Chau-Ching Liu, MD, PhD. University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Jochen Mattner, MD, University of Chicago
Chandra Mohan, MD, PhD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Stephen Pelsue, PhD, University of Southern Maine
Alessandra Pernis, MD, Columbia University Medical Center
Christopher Roman, PhD, SUNY-Downstate Medical Center
Jian Zhang, MD, University of Chicago
The 2006 grant recipients were selected from a record 92 applicants based on a rigorous peer review process that assessed novelty of approach, scientific quality, strength of hypothesis, relevance to lupus and potential for success. The review process was overseen by a panel of experts in lupus research, the Institute's respected and experienced Scientific Advisory Board, which is chaired by William E. Paul, M.D., the chief of the laboratory of immunology at the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Lupus is one of America's least recognized major diseases. It is estimated that as many as 1.5 million Americans have lupus. Systemic lupus erythematosus (S.L.E.), commonly called lupus, is a chronic and potentially fatal autoimmune disorder. It is considered the prototype autoimmune disease because the body's immune system forms antibodies that can attack virtually any healthy organ or tissue, from the kidneys to the brain, heart, lungs, skin, joints and blood. No major new treatments for lupus have been approved in the last 40 years, and existing medications are highly toxic and can have debilitating effects.
About the Lupus Research Institute
The Lupus Research Institute is the only first-tier novel lupus research funding organization, bridging the chasm between promising new ideas for curing, preventing and treating lupus and next-tier sources of government and private research funding. Created with the help of leading lupus scientists, the Institute now backs the largest number of privately funded novel research studies in lupus nationwide.
Government and other private research funding organizations require substantial preliminary data to even apply. As a result, it is virtually impossible for scientists with novel approaches for addressing lupus to secure funding and advance their ideas. The Lupus Research Institute is the only organization providing research funding at this first-tier entry level, casting a broad net to identify, and then support and champion, the brightest novel ideas that have the potential to crack open the mysteries of lupus. More than 60 percent of Lupus Research Institute investigators, using their Institute-funded research results, have gone on to secure more than $24 million in extended funding from government and other sources.
The urgent need for new approaches for this complex disease led to the creation of the Lupus Research Institute in 2000. Founded and funded by lupus patients and their families, the Institute awarded its first round of grants in 2001, and each successive class of applicants and grant awards has grown. To learn more about lupus and the Lupus Research Institute, visit www.lupusresearchinstitute.org.
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