The Lupus Research Institute (LRI) announced recipients of its 2014 Distinguished Innovator Awards with three cutting-edge projects that tackle the underlying causes of the disease. The world’s largest private grants in novel lupus research, the LRI Distinguished Innovator Awards support major studies for up to $1 million that can advance the search for prevention, treatment and a cure.
The 2014 award recipients are Zhijian ‘James’ Chen, Ph.D., Professor, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX; Douglas Green, Ph.D., Immunology Chair, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN; and Randolph J. Noelle, Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Trustees of Dartmouth College. Each has made recent major breakthroughs in basic immunology that have implications for understanding and treating a broad range of diseases. But thanks to their LRI grants, they will focus first on applying those novel discoveries to lupus.
Enzyme that stimulates immune system could hold key to new treatment for lupus
“We have discovered an essential new process that alerts the immune system to viruses by sensing the presence of ‘foreign DNA within cells’. With our Distinguished Innovator award, we will explore our hypothesis that this pathway malfunctions in lupus, causing the immune system to attack its own DNA.”
Zhijian ‘James’ Chen, Ph.D., Professor, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
Is the Body’s Clean-up Squad at Fault?
“We will investigate whether a new pathway we discovered that safely disposes of dead cells goes awry in lupus, causing the immune system to attack the body’s cells and tissues. We will apply our innovative approach to the treatment of lupus in animal models, which will lead the way to new strategies for treating lupus in patients.”
Douglas Green, Ph.D., Immunology Chair, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN
Potential to Control the Lupus Immune System
“Our project is exploring whether a novel ‘checkpoint’ molecule that limits the activity of the immune system could be used to bring the overactive lupus immune system back under control.”
Randolph J. Noelle, Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Trustees of Dartmouth College