Hip Hop Artist's Death From Lupus Complications Raises Profile of Disease that Disproportionately Impacts African Americans

New York, NY, February 22, 2006 - The untimely death of a visionary hip-hop producer on February 10, 2006, just three days after his 32nd birthday, has jolted the music world and shed light on an often-debilitating disease that afflicts 1.5 million Americans.

The cause of death for James Dewitt Yancey-a.k.a. Jay Dee and J Dilla-has been reported as both kidney failure and cardiac arrest, apparently brought on by lupus, from which he suffered for several years. According to the Lupus Research Institute (LRI), lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system-normally our natural defense against disease-becomes overactive and forms antibodies that attack and damage different organs and tissues such as the skin, brain, heart, lungs, blood and kidneys. One in three lupus patients has kidney disease, and heart disease is one of the leading causes of death among people with lupus. According to the Lupus Research Institute, nine in ten lupus patients are women-J Dilla had the misfortune of being one of the one in 10 lupus sufferers who are male. Sadly, he only survived for three years past his diagnosis.

J Dilla's tragic death serves as an important opportunity to highlight the widespread incidence and devastating impact of lupus on Americans, in general, and people of color in particular. More Americans have lupus than cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, sickle-cell anemia, and cystic fibrosis combined, making it one of this country's most prevalent medical problems. And African American, Hispanic/Latina, Asian and Native American women are three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasian women.

The exact cause of lupus is unknown and, as yet, lupus cannot be prevented or cured. And the last treatment for lupus was approved 40 years ago, which points to the great need for increased research. That's where the Lupus Research Institute comes in. The LRI, the nation's leading sponsor of innovative, novel lupus research, is enabling scientists to make bold, new breakthroughs in our understanding of the disease. Founded and funded by lupus patients and families across America, the LRI's strategic research investment already totals more than $14 million. To learn more about lupus and the Lupus Research Institute, visit www.lupusresearchinstitute.org.