"Despite such encouraging progress as biomarker initiatives and hopeful stirrings of clinical trials, the core fact remains that, as yet, no one fully understands lupus," says Margaret G. Dowd, LRI President.
Lupus is a chronic, systemic autoimmune disease that can attack virtually any organ or bodily system at any time. Lupus affects an estimated 1-1.5 million Americans and is a leading cause of kidney disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease in young women.
"Increased support for new science and imaginative investigators--work that is essential for progress in lupus is unlikely to make it through National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding mechanisms in the very tough fiscal climate that lies ahead," she said. "That's where the private sector most needs to kick in."
"Predictions of minimal growth in Fiscal 2006 NIH research budgets are a wake-up call--and at the LRI we hear it loud and clear," Dowd added.
The LRI was founded five years ago to support highly promising novel approaches in lupus research. "Because the cause of lupus remains enigmatic and curative treatments continue to elude us, the LRI has chosen to support investigators who bring innovative and creative ideas to the table," said LRI Novel Research Taskforce Co-Chairman Nicholas Chiorazzi, MD, Director of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Research Institute. "This affords the best opportunity to reinforce and invigorate the research aimed at finding the cause and cure for lupus."
The LRI's 2005 novel grant program seeks projects that deal with less investigated aspects of the disease as well as applications from investigators who may not have previously worked in lupus.