NYC scientists receive $420,000 S.L.E. Lupus Foundation grant for new research

Published on April 6, 2011 at 3:23 AM · No Comments

New York City's S.L.E. Lupus Foundation is pleased to name the latest recipients of its Career Development and Basic Science Fellowships: Josephine Isgro, MD of Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), Dipyaman Ganguly, PhD of Columbia University Medical Center, and Yi Yan, PhD of the Feinstein Institute at North Shore-Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Hospital.

These grants, totaling $420,000, push the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation's lifetime investment in New York City-based lupus research past $17 million-an unparalleled sum for private sector lupus research funding and investigator training in any single metropolitan area.

"The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation has been key in making New York City the nation's leader in lupus research and results that matter for people with this disease," said Bruce Cronstein, MD, of New York University, chairman of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation's Medical Advisory Board.

Since 1977, the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation has distributed nearly 200 grants to more than 139 young scientists in the New York area to help ensure that the most talented and ambitious minds enter-and remain-in the field of lupus research, while building the city as a global center of discovery and care.

With their award funds, the three new grantees will work with mentors to explore potential treatments, and possible causes, for lupus:

  • Dr. Isgro at HSS, a Brooklyn native, will explore with her mentor Alessandra Pernis, MD, PhD, a target for a new lupus therapy that uses statins, which are commonly known drugs for lowering cholesterol.

  • Dr. Ganguly at Columbia University, under the supervision of Boris Reizis, PhD, will test the hypothesis that a newly identified gene is significant in regulating the cause and development of lupus.

  • Dr. Yan at North Shore-LIJ and her mentor Betty Diamond, MD will dig deeper into recent Feinstein Institute discoveries regarding receptor editing in lupus, and aim to show how critical "affector" mechanisms lead to the production of damaging auto-antibodies in lupus.

"As a fellow, you are desperate to find support to stay in the lab," describes 2003 Career Development Award recipient Guillermina Girardi, PhD at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in Manhattan. "But with the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation's grant you can take the risks and develop new areas of work. It's been really, really important to me."

"The fellowship grant was the very first research grant I ever received," adds Jane Salmon, MD, co-director of the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research at HHS and a 1981 Basic Science Fellowship winner. "It motivated me and made me believe that people had confidence in me as a scientist. It changed my life and it enabled me to begin an independent career, which I've been pursuing now for over 30 years."

And since 2000, as a founding member of the national Lupus Research Institute, the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation has extended its research support to over 100 distinguished scientists across the country pursuing novel approaches to understanding and treating lupus-including 20 based in New York City.

New York-area academic medical centers with scientists who have received funds from the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation and the Lupus Research Institute include:

  • Hospital for Special Surgery: $4.4 million via 52 grants
  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine: $3.2 million via 39 grants
  • Columbia University Medical Center: $2.6 million via 18 grants
  • NYU/Hospital for Joint Diseases: $2 million via 32 grants
  • North Shore/LIJ-Feinstein Institute: $1.2 million via 16 grants

"Due to our early and ongoing investment, New York City now has the most lupus labs, the most lupus researchers, and the most lupus treatment centers than any other place in the country," said the Foundation's Executive Director Margaret Dowd. "By fostering new scientific talent and building research labs, the Foundation and its New York City partner institutions are leading the way to new treatments and a cure."

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