According to a story from Oklahoma’s Nursing Times, Lori Garman, a scientist at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, was selected for The Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research Fellowship Program Award. The organization is the most prominent national nonprofit dedicated to studying the condition. The fellowship is a way for young medical professionals to learn how to study and treat sarcoidosis.
In sarcoidosis, inflammatory cells form unusual lumps in different areas of the body called granulomas. It is most common in the skin, lungs, or lymph nodes, with the lungs being the most common. Since the area affected can vary, symptoms generally depend on which organs are involved. When the lungs are affected, symptoms can include chest pain, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Currently, the cause of sarcoidosis is unclear. Some suggest it could be the result of an immune response to an infection in those that are genetically predisposed. In some cases, sarcoidosis can disappear without any real treatment in a few years. In other situations, the patient may have long term illness and worsening symptoms. Overall, the risk of death from the disease is quite low. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen are common treatments, but in worse cases, immune suppressants and antimetabolites are used as well. To learn more about sarcoidosis, click here.
The greatest threat to safety in sarcoidosis is when too many granulomas form in one organ, which can cause malfunction or even organ failure. The fellowship will last for two years.
With a fiscal value of $250,000, the money will pay Garman a yearly salary, cover lab supplies and equipment, and help fund a portion of her own research. Since the cause of sarcoidosis is still not well understood, much of her research will involved exploring in further detail the genetic nature of the disease. Garman wants to understand how environmental and genetic factors can alter the immune cells and create the conditions for the disease to develop. Garman will test the responses of certain genes to a variety of environmental factors such as bacterial infections and viruses. The data from Garman’s research could finally reveal the true origins of this unusual and rare condition.