New York, NY—May 29, 2001
A gift of $7.7 million has been given to Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) to open the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research. The gift has been given by Katherine and Arnold Snider through their family foundation, Rheuminations, Inc., in memory of Mrs. Snider’s mother, who suffered from lupus. The goals of the Mary Kirkland Center are to identify the genetic and immune system determinants of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), to conduct patient-focused research to understand the most important disease features, and to improve the quality of life for lupus patients. The long range goal is determining the cause of, and hopefully finding a cure for, the disease. Over 90% of victims are women.
By drawing on the extensive patient resources, biomedical expertise, and technology of HSS and its affiliated institutions including Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and Rockefeller University, rheumatologists at the Center will have unique and unparalleled abilities to develop cross-collaborations among specialists in hematology, cardiology, neurology, and obstetrics to support a multidisciplinary approach to SLE.
Lupus, a disease of the immune system with important health and lifestyle consequences for thousands of women, can affect skin, joints, kidneys, and the brain.
It is striking for its female predominance and is often considered a "model" for the study of all systemic autoimmune diseases. "With the revolution in science at the genetic and molecular levels, " says Stephen Paget, MD, Physician-in-Chief of HSS, "we are poised for unprecedented advances in lupus research. With the Snider’s support, we are confident that our contributions to the fundamental knowledge about the causes and treatment of lupus will last far into the future and make a real difference in our approach to this debilitating disease."
In making the announcement of the gift, Katherine Snider said, "The decision to establish the Mary Kirkland Center at HSS was based on HSS’s outstanding reputation as a leader in lupus research. In particular, we were very impressed by the collaborative culture that exists among its widely respected researchers, scientists and physicians. It was equally important to us to fund patient support programs which are clearly a priority at HSS. As a family that has lived with the burden of this disease, we are thrilled to help fund research that will hopefully contribute to finding the cure for lupus."
Biomedical, Genomics, & Clinical Research
The Mary Kirkland Center will support cutting edge basic research specifically directed toward lupus. The basic research group is led by a team of three internationally recognized lupus investigators, Peggy Crow, MD, Keith Elkon, MD, and Jane Salmon, MD. The Center will recruit additional scientists from a broad range of disciplines and employ state-of-the-art technology to accelerate progress in this complex immune disorder. Among the targeted areas of investigation are control of cell death, regulation of lymphocyte function, and mechanisms of tissue damage. The large cohort of lupus patients cared for at HSS will participate in studies at the DNA and molecular level that will lay the groundwork for development of new and safer biologic therapies.
Clinical investigators will work closely with the Center’s basic scientists to promote the "bedside-to-bench-to-bedside" approach that has become an HSS hallmark. Michael Lockshin, MD, Director of HSS’ Barbara Volcker Center for Women and Rheumatic Disease, will direct the clinical component of the Center to study the special features of SLE. The Mary Kirkland Center research will tackle the challenging clinical manifestations, such as central nervous system disease and premature atherosclerosis that contribute to substantial disability and compromise the lives of lupus patients.
Education and International Awareness
Access of lupus patients to high-quality heath care and patient education are priorities of the Sniders and will be incorporated into the activities of the Mary Kirkland Center through educational initiatives developed by HSS staff. The Center will disseminate progress in both medical treatments for lupus patients and mechanisms of disease to patients and investigators through workshops, data exchange, and research conferences.
HSS’ Lupus Research Leadership
Since the late 1960s, HSS has been at the forefront of research in lupus. In 1993, it became the nation’s first NIH sponsored Specialized Center of Research in SLE. HSS has one of the largest lupus registries for adults and children in the United States, with essential clinical and DNA information on over 600 patients.
In recognition of the outstanding quality of research at HSS, the National Institutes of Health recently awarded HSS a grant of $1 million for renovation of the second floor.
About Hospital for Special Surgery
Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) is the world’s largest academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. HSS is nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics and No. 2 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2016-2017), and is the first hospital in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. HSS has one of the lowest infection rates in the country. HSS is an affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College and as such all Hospital for Special Surgery medical staff are faculty of Weill Cornell. The hospital's research division is internationally recognized as a leader in the investigation of musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases. Hospital for Special Surgery is located in New York City and online at www.hss.edu.