Lupus Research Institute Awards $3 Million to Leading Innovators in Lupus Research

2014 Novel Research Grant Recipients Advance Cutting-edge Paths to Transform Lupus Treatments and Advance Patient Care

Ralph Budd Jin Wang Amy Major Hans Haecker Shiaoching Gong
Dr. Ralph Budd Dr. Jin Wang Dr. Amy Major Dr. Hans Haecker Dr. Shiaoching Gong
Betty Diamond Joshua Thurman Chaim Putterman Lijun Yang Keith Elkon
Dr. Betty Diamond Dr. Josh Thurman Dr. Chaim Putterman Dr. Lijun Yang Dr. Keith Elkon

Ten new Novel Research Grants are now poised to take high-risk, high-reward research in lupus to new levels. The Lupus Research Institute’s novel research platform, the cornerstone of a decade of unprecedented scientific success in lupus, is the proven source of breakthroughs that advance new treatments while pushing toward prevention and a cure.  Generating over $170 million for novel investigations in lupus over the past decade, the LRI continues to demonstrate the power of innovation to achieve unsurpassed progress, delivering the solid and documented results that directly impact patient care.  

10 Diverse New Projects Drive the Next Wave of Invention

Novel investigations continue to define the scope and set the pace for discovery and growth in lupus research.  The LRI Novel Research Grant Recipients Class of 2014 is working from Florida to Seattle, from genetics to the human biology of lupus, to tackle lupus with new eyes, new questions, and creative new thinking.

More than half of this year’s investigators bring new concepts from the frontiers of biology to bear on the problem of why the lupus immune system switches sides and begins attacking the body it is supposed to protect.

  • Dr. Ralph Budd will investigate if damaged mitochondria (the cell’s energy factories) promote inflammation in lupus, which could lead to new treatment approaches.
  • Dr. Jin Wang is studying if a failure of white blood cells to recycle and renew their mitochondria (a process known as autophagy) is involved in the development of lupus, which will establish if therapies aimed at correcting these defects have potential benefit.
  • Dr. Amy Major is asking whether a breakdown in communication between cells of the immune system involving a new cell-to-cell messenger molecule is to blame.
  • Dr. Hans Haecker is using genetically engineered mice to identify immune system processes that cause disease, allowing for the development of novel targeted therapies for lupus.
  • Dr. Shiaoching Gong is using innovative technology to study how changes in the TNFAIP3 gene contribute to the development of lupus.
  • Dr. Betty Diamond is testing if lupus autoantibodies drive up levels of the hormone prolactin and increase the severity of lupus. If so, existing drugs that decrease prolactin levels may be able to limit the extent of the disease.

Several other investigators are advancing new treatments for the most dangerous and debilitating complications of lupus.

  • Dr. Josh Thurman will develop and test new experimental treatments that block lupus kidney damage directly where it happens, without causing widespread suppression of the immune system.  
  • A new targeted treatment to prevent lupus damage of the central nervous system will be tested by Dr. Chaim Putterman.
  • Dr. Lijun Yang is asking whether low blood cell count (anemia) in lupus can be reversed by an arthritis drug that prevents damage to essential blood-cell producing stem cells in the bone marrow.
  • Dr. Keith Elkon’s study of how sunlight impacts lupus is expected to provide opportunities to test therapies to treat skin lupus and prevent disease flares.

Contributing new findings to the growing body of LRI’s cutting-edge work, these 10 projects promise to build on breakthroughs with imagination and creative new science.

Thanks to our Lupus Community

Fostering innovation is only possible with the support of the lupus community – the involvement and collaborative spirit of patients, families, scientists, physicians and biopharmaceutical companies sustain the momentum that is Turning Lupus Research Upside Down and Patients’ Lives Around.