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Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research

The mission of the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research is to achieve new understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), contribute to the development of new lupus therapies, and improve the lives of patients with lupus.

For the most current patient information and resources, please see the Lupus and APS Center of Excellence.

History of lupus research at HSS

For more than forty years, HSS has been a leader in research defining the underlying mechanisms of disease in SLE and has provided expert care of patients with lupus. Lupus is a highly complex disease which alters every aspect of immune system function. The clinical manifestations of lupus are diverse, life-altering, and challenging to patients and their health care providers. Success in developing new therapies that target the relevant disease mechanisms depends on the creativity and cooperation of dedicated scientists, physicians, and funding organizations. At the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research at HSS, dedicated individuals work to develop and advance novel research - both basic and clinical - and patient programs in a collaborative environment that facilitates improvement in the lives of lupus patients.

Researchers at HSS have studied the mechanisms of disease in lupus since the founding of its Rheumatology Division in the 1960's. Among the internationally recognized early contributors to advances in lupus research were Drs. Robert Mellors, Charles Christian, Robert Kimberly, and Keith Elkon. In 1993, HSS became the nation's first National Institutes of Health-sponsored Specialized Center of Research in SLE. Since then, HSS has developed one of the largest registries of adult and pediatric lupus patients in the United States, with essential clinical and DNA information on over 800 patients. HSS scientists continue to be recognized for their major contributions to unraveling the alterations of the immune system that underlie lupus while identifying important molecular targets for more effective and safer therapies.

In 2001, with support from Katherine and Arnold Snider of Rheuminations, Inc., HSS inaugurated the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research. Named in honor of Katherine Snider's mother, who suffered with lupus, The Kirkland Center provides support for intramural basic and clinical research at HSS and pilot research grants focused on lupus. The Kirkland Center also administers the Kirkland Scholar Program, funded by Rheuminations, Inc., which honors outstanding lupus investigators who have achieved an international reputation for their scientific accomplishments and collaborative approach to research.

By drawing on the extensive patient resources, biomedical expertise, and technology of HSS and its affiliated institutions, including Weill Medical College of Cornell University, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and Rockefeller University, investigators at the Kirkland Center have unique opportunities to collaborate with specialists in hematology, cardiology, neurology, and obstetrics, along with outstanding basic scientists, to support a multidisciplinary approach to SLE. In this rich scientific and clinical environment, dedicated scientists, physicians, and health care workers are poised to bring new hope and an improved quality of life to patients with lupus.

Family foundation support

Through their family foundation, Rheuminations, Inc., Katherine and Arnold Snider established the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research in memory of Mrs. Snider's mother. The Kirkland Center is guided by the Sniders' vision of fostering collaborative research aimed at improving the lives of lupus patients. The focus is on finding the causes and cures of lupus and, until that goal is achieved, making the lives of patients with lupus and their families better.

"Listening to and learning from the patients will direct investigators to address the issues that impact most directly on lupus. Only with close collaboration and shared resources will real progress be made," says Katherine Snider.

Access to high quality health care and patient education are priorities of the Sniders and are incorporated into the activities of the Mary Kirkland Center through educational initiatives developed by HSS staff.