New York City—September 9, 2011
Leading investigators in the field of lupus research will present their findings at an upcoming scientific conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the Kirkland Scholar Program at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). The program supports nationally recognized scientists conducting ground-breaking research to better understand systemic lupus erythematosus, commonly known as lupus.
More than 50 scientists from around the country will present their research at the event, which will take place September 15 to 17 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. Past and present Kirkland Scholars and their Kirkland trainees, or young investigators, will discuss a wide range of research projects. Much of the work is focused on identifying the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in lupus to better understand who gets the disease and why. The ultimate goal of the research is to improve the lives of lupus patients.
The Scholar Program is administered by the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research at HSS. The Center was established in 2001 thanks to the efforts of Katherine and Arnold Snider. Through their foundation, Rheuminations, Inc., the Sniders have provided generous support to expand basic, translational and clinical research initiatives, including the Kirkland Center and the Kirkland Scholar Program. To date, the program has honored and provided grants totaling more than four million dollars to 23 scholars. Those grants have supported the career development of 60 trainees.
“The Scholar Program seeks to build a cadre of basic science and clinical investigators dedicated to advancing a collaborative approach to lupus research; provide support for the training of young lupus investigators; and inspire those trainees to direct their career toward lupus research,” said Dr. Mary Crow, physician-in-chief of Hospital for Special Surgery and co-director of the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research.
Lupus is a highly complex disease. It is hoped that the Kirkland Scholar Program will build, over time, a stronger research base devoted to elucidating the underlying mechanisms of lupus to develop better treatments and, ultimately, a cure.
Lupus is known as an autoimmune disease. The immune system turns against parts of the body it is designed to protect, leading to inflammation and damage. Lupus may affect the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels and brain.
Lupus affects each patient differently, making it especially challenging to diagnose and treat. Although people with the disease may have many different symptoms, some of the most common include extreme fatigue, painful or swollen joints, unexplained fever, skin rashes and kidney problems. Lupus is characterized by periods of illness, called flares, and periods of wellness, or remission. Many more women than men have lupus.
“The goal of lupus research is to unravel the mechanisms of the disease,” explains Dr. Crow. “That’s why our scientific conference is so important. It is through sharing information and developing a better understanding of lupus that we can have a positive impact on patient care.”