The CDA Provides Funding and Mentorship to Early Career Lupus Scientists

Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Award (CDA)

The CDA is a grant sponsored by the Lupus Foundation of America that was established to help accelerate research for lupus. The 2020 award has gone to four young researchers specializing in lupus. The fund will support them for the next two years.

Funding is especially critical for scientists still in the beginning stages of their careers because it ensures they can obtain the resources and mentorship they need to be successful. Often, funds are provided to researchers later in their career, whose research has already proven to be fruitful and provide a certain benefit. However, by ignoring those in the beginning stages, we are severely impeding the research discoveries that may be possible down the line.

As a part of this grant program, each recipient is paired with a later-career scientist. This individual serves as their mentor, supporting them throughout their research.

More information on each recipient is provided below. Three of the four 2020 winners are focusing on the kidney disease associated with lupus called lupus nephritis.

2020 Recipients

  1. Ellen Cody from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
    1. Ellen is working on a urine test which can determine levels of lupus nephritis in the body by assessing biomarkers. The hope is that this investigation will allow physicians to assess and accurately diagnose patients with a noninvasive procedure. Current approaches often require a kidney biopsy. This method of assessment utilizing the urine could also be used to monitor progression of disease.
  2. Dominique Kinnet-Hopkins from Northwestern University
    1. Dominique is working on an exercise program, specifically tailored to lupus patients. Exercise helps to decrease fatigue and improve quality of life. Her program will be a four month course that the patient can complete at home.
  3. Nicholas Li from The Ohio State University
    1. Nicholas is investigating the biologic pathway that leads to lupus nephritis. The goal is to block this pathway from activity, effectively protecting the kidney from injury.
  4. Laura Whittall from the University Health Network
    1. Laura is investigating inflammatory markers in the blood (specifically IFN-alpha and NETs). She believes that by examining the levels of these markers when patients are currently experiencing a kidney flare, we will be able to better predict how patients will respond to therapy.  

The Future

This grant will help to ensure not only that Lupus research continues at full speed, but that the up and coming Lupus scientists receive the support they need to carry on.

You can read about the 2019 recipients, and hear where they are in their work here.

You can also read more about this grant and the research being completed under it here.

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