LRA Announces Inaugural Awards Promoting Diversity in Lupus Research

NEW YORK, June 10, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Lupus Research Alliance (LRA), the world’s leading private funder of lupus research, today announced the first recipients of career development and postdoctoral fellowships to promote diversity in research on lupus. The Diversity in Lupus Research Award funding mechanisms aim to address the under-representation of minorities in the scientific research profession.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that disproportionately affects underrepresented minorities in terms of disease prevalence and severity. To encourage the development of talented scientists and postdoctoral fellows from underrepresented minorities, the LRA has launched two new award mechanisms. This year, three outstanding early-career scientists from underrepresented minorities will receive the Career Development Award for Promoting Diversity in Lupus Research, which offers up to $600,000 over four years. The recipients are Ashira BlazerMD, MSCI, Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS); Andrea Knight, MD, MSCE, Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids); and Erika MoorePhD, University of Florida.

Two promising postdocs, Ruth Fernandez Ruiz, MD, of the Hospital for Special Surgery and Vanessa Wacleche, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, are the recipients of the postdoctoral fellowship to promote diversity in lupus research. This award provides scholarship recipients $170,000 for two years to support projects and data generation needed to become an independent lupus researcher.

Career Development Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Lupus Research

Ashira BlazerMD, MSCI, Hospital for Special Surgery

Dr. Blazer will build on her early research, which successfully separated patients with lupus nephritis from patients with non-lupus nephritis through analysis of sediments found in the urine of lupus patients. The potential clinical use of the non-invasive urine-based test will be confirmed using a larger multinational group of SLE patients of African descent, providing a new opportunity to learn more about the Lupus nephritis in a high-risk, understudied patient. band.

Andrea ChevalierMD, MSCE, Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)

Dr Knight is investigating ways to detect brain changes in high-risk adolescent patients with childhood lupus by comparing markers of inflammation, brain MRIs and cognitive function tests of healthy adolescents and patients with lupus. Because little is known about adolescents with lupus who are most at risk for structural brain changes that affect cognition, this research aims to find ways to detect these brain changes early and identify potential new treatments.

Erika MoorePhD, University of Florida

Dr. Moore will examine monocytes from women of African and European descent, with and without lupus, to determine how monocytes promote lupus-related blood vessel inflammation (vasculitis). Understanding how lupus and ancestry affect monocyte function will help the lupus medical community understand how ancestry influences lupus-related blood vessel inflammation and identify treatments for patients at higher risk of developing lupus. lupus-induced cardiovascular disease.

Postdoctoral fellowship to promote diversity in lupus research

Ruth Fernandez Ruizdoctor,
Special surgery hospital

dr. Fernandez Ruiz will study how permanent changes in our genetic make-up, called genetic variants, influence the development and progression of lupus. By studying how genetic variants of the PRKG1 gene affect lupus, the research team could identify new biological pathways that could be targeted to reduce inflammation in lupus patients caused by high levels of interferon alpha.

Vanessa Wacleche, PhD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Dr. Wacleche will study how peripheral helper T (Tph) cells direct the immune response seen in systemic lupus erythematosus via an inflammatory molecule CXCL13, which can result in the production of organ-damaging autoantibodies. The new findings generated by this research could suggest strategies for controlling CXCL13 production that could eventually lead to the development of new treatments for patients with lupus.

Teodora Staeva, PhD, Scientific Director of the LRA, said, “We congratulate the first recipients of our Diversity in Lupus Research Awards and look forward to seeing how their research results advance our understanding of lupus and lead to to the development of new treatment options for patients with lupus. The Career Development and Postdoctoral Fellowship funding mechanisms to promote diversity in lupus research are our most recent initiatives aimed at alleviating the disparities prevalent in autoimmune disease and biomedical research.

About lupus

Lupus is a chronic and complex autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. More than 90% of people with lupus are women; lupus strikes most often during the childbearing years from 15 to 45 years old. African, South and Central American Ancestrals and Native Americans are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Americans of European descent. In lupus, the immune system, which is designed to protect against infection, creates antibodies that can attack any part of the body, including the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, blood, skin and joints.

About the Lupus Research Alliance

The Lupus Research Alliance is the largest non-profit, non-governmental funder of lupus research in the world. The organization aims to transform treatment by funding the most innovative lupus research, nurturing diverse scientific talent, and directing discovery toward better diagnostics, improved treatments, and ultimately a cure for lupus. Because the Lupus Research Alliance Board of Directors funds all administrative and fundraising costs, 100% of all donations go to support lupus research programs.

SOURCE Lupus Research Alliance