Lupus Research Institute Awards $4.5 Million to Explore New Approaches to Lupus

15 Scientists Receive 3-Year $300,000 Grants for Novel Lupus Research

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:

  • 8 are established investigators new to lupus research
  • 6 are new investigators
  • 9 are pursuing basic science
  • 6 are pursuing clinical research
  • 10 will be conducting studies in animals
  • 5 will be conducting studies in humans

"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.

About Lupus

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

Pioneering Discovery to prevent, treat and cure lupus. The Lupus Research Institute (LRI), the country’s only nonprofit organization singularly devoted to novel research in lupus, champions innovation, encourages scientific creativity and risks exploring uncharted territory to bring new scientific solutions to the complex and dangerous autoimmune disease of lupus. Founded by families and shaped by scientists, the Institute mandates sound science and rigorous peer review to uncover and support only the highest ranked novel research. Its bold and proven research strategy places the LRI at the forefront of lupus science as the Institute consistently achieves the breakthrough discoveries, novel insights and solid results that are changing the course of lupus research and bringing new hope to people with lupus nationwide.

To learn more about lupus and the Lupus Research Institute, visit www.lupusresearchinstitute.org.