NEW YORK, October 24 — The Lupus Research Alliance proudly announces two exceptional recipients of the 2019 Dr. William E. Paul Distinguished Innovator Award in Lupus and Autoimmunity: Fabienne Mackay, PhD, and Jeffrey Rathmell, PhD. The highly prestigious up-to-$1 million grant will allow each investigator to test promising approaches for potential new lupus treatments.
Dr. Mackay serves as Professor and Head of the School of Biomedical Sciences at University of Melbourne in Australia. Dr. Rathmell is the Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair in Immunology and Professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.
A 1-2 Punch Approach to Treating Lupus
With her Distinguished Innovator Award, Dr. Mackay and her team plan to test a novel combination approach to reverse lupus in mice. “We will treat the animals with molecules that kill off harmful immune cells and feed them different high-fiber diets that may protect against the disease,” she explained. “If this approach works in mice, it can be further tested in clinical trials.”
Targeting the Weak Spot of SLE
“The Achilles heel of the harmful immune cells in lupus may be their metabolism,” explained Dr. Rathmell. He and his team will test two drugs being developed for cancer that target cells’ metabolism to find out if they reduce lupus symptoms in mice. If the drugs are beneficial, clinical trials could test them in patients with lupus.”
The Distinguished Innovator Awards
The Dr. William E. Paul Distinguished Innovator Award in Lupus and Autoimmunity was established in 2012 under the leadership of the late Dr. Bill Paul, former Chief of the Laboratory of Immunology at the National Institutes of Health. The Award encourages exceptional investigators worldwide to pursue innovative research projects that pair unconventional creativity with sound science to uncover the fundamental causes of lupus. Their research is expected to accelerate the development of novel treatments that prevent, arrest, or cure lupus and its complications.
Lupus is a chronic, complex autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. More than 90% of people with lupus are women; lupus most often strikes during the childbearing years of 15-45. African Americans, Latinx, Asians and Native Americans are two to three times at greater risk than Caucasians. In lupus, the immune system, which is designed to protect against infection, creates antibodies that can attack any part of the body including the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, blood, skin, and joints.
About the Lupus Research Alliance
The Lupus Research Alliance aims to transform treatment while advancing toward a cure by funding the most innovative lupus research in the world. The organization’s stringent peer review grant process fosters diverse scientific talent who are driving discovery toward better diagnostics, improved treatments and ultimately a cure for lupus. Because the Lupus Research Alliance’s Board of Directors fund all administrative and fundraising costs, 100% of all donations goes to support lupus research programs.
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