Lupus Research Institute Reports Record Number of Grant Applications

New York, NY, July 20, 2005 – Standing at the forefront of innovation in lupus research, the Lupus Research Institute (LRI) reports an unprecedented response to its 2005 request for grant proposals. Eighty-one scientists from 24 states have submitted a record number of novel proposals — more than double the number received in previous years — to uncover the cause, test new treatments, and find a cure for lupus.

The LRI's Novel Research Grant program to date has funded 42 basic and clinical studies and is recognized across the country as a unique and powerful model for groundbreaking research. A key LRI tenet is "to go where the science leads," enabling investigators to pursue bold yet sound scientific hypotheses unimpeded by conventional thinking.

"Our commitment to novel research and innovation has attracted the country's most imaginative and talented scientists across multiple disciplines to develop the new approaches needed to crack the code for lupus," said Robert Ravitz, LRI Co-Chairman.

The current grant request attracted many investigators who had not previously worked in lupus — scientists from such specialties as cardiology, nephrology, dermatology and neurology. "Recruiting top specialists to help us understand the complex manifestations of lupus in the heart, kidneys, brain and skin is an effective research strategy for a heterogeneous disease like lupus," said Nicholas Chiorazzi, MD, Director of the Institute for Medical Research of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, and Co-Chairman of the LRI Novel Research Task Force.

The unprecedented response from the scientific community speaks to the growing awareness of the LRI's leading presence in novel research, and the dearth of federal funding for new scientific projects, according to Mark Shlomchik, MD, PhD, Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Immunobiology at Yale University School of Medicine, and LRI Novel Research Task Force Co-Chairman. "Cutbacks in NIH research budgets that will lead to lower rates of funding for critical research make vigorous private-sector initiatives essential if we are to drive development of new ideas and achieve scientific breakthroughs," he said.

Donors Drive Success

Since 1999, when a group of patients and their families joined with top scientists to establish the LRI out of a sense of urgency to attack and defeat lupus, LRI scientists have achieved major breakthroughs. They've uncovered disease mechanisms, treatments, and potential diagnostic techniques in CNS lupus, premature cardiovascular disease, kidney disease (lupus nephritis), and photosensitivity.

"The LRI's accomplishments would not have been possible without the leadership, steady commitment, and passion of the lupus community," said Margaret G. Dowd, LRI president. "Patients and families across America have recognized that the LRI is the catalyst for progress in lupus research."

Following a rigorous peer-review process, the LRI will announce its 2005 grant recipients this fall. More information on the Lupus Research Institute is available at www.LupusResearchInstitute.org, or by calling 212-812-9881.