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Dr. George C. Tsokos Receives Lupus Insight Prize
at FOCIS 2015
Grant Project Aims to Improve Lupus Nephritis Treatment

SAN DIEGO, CA (June 24, 2015) – George C. Tsokos, M.D., Chief of the Rheumatology Division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, received the 2015 Lupus Insight Prize today for a project with great promise in improving treatment for lupus nephritis. The award was presented at FOCIS 2015, the 15th Annual Meeting of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies.

The Lupus Insight Prize is a collaborative initiative among the Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR), the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) and the Lupus Research Institute (LRI).  The $200,000 Prize recognizes a major, novel insight and/or discovery that has the promise of changing thinking about lupus as well as a high likelihood of generating further advances in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

Innovative Project Aims to Improve Lupus Nephritis Treatment
Dr. Tsokos will use the award funds to study the molecular link between the immune system and the kidney damage seen frequently in patients with lupus nephritis, a dangerous complication of lupus. His research also aims to develop a targeted delivery of drugs directly to kidney cells that block the action of a single destructive enzyme. 

“I am honored to receive this award from the leading organizations in lupus,” commented Dr. Tsokos. “I have dedicated my career to defining the abnormalities in the immune cells of patients with lupus to advance the development of tools for diagnosis and monitoring as well as safer and more effective therapies.  The Lupus Insight Prize will allow my team to further our exciting current work that has potential to significantly improve treatment of lupus nephritis, serious damage to the kidneys.”

“The collegial effort among the organizations involved in the Lupus Insight Prize demonstrates the focus of all involved in accelerating progress towards better treatments and ultimately, to finding a cure for lupus,” said Kenneth M. Farber, President of the Alliance for Lupus Research.  “By working with these organizations and with leaders in the field of lupus research towards a common goal, we have the potential to more quickly improve the lives of those estimated 1.5 million Americans living with lupus.”

“We are extremely proud that Dr. Tsokos was selected to win this prestigious award and congratulate him on his long and illustrious career,” adds Sandra C. Raymond, President and CEO of the Lupus Foundation of America.  “Dr. Tsokos’ longstanding commitment to exploring the underlying causes of lupus and identifying new ways to diagnose and treat the disease has resulted in important and game-changing discoveries, including the identification of treatments that are specific for lupus with fewer debilitating side effects. These treatments are in various stages of clinical development.”

Margaret G. Dowd, President and CEO of the Lupus Research Institute concluded, “Dr. Tsokos’ outstanding body of work exemplifies what the three national lupus organizations came together to advance with the Lupus Insight Prize – the most novel science that builds on groundbreaking contributions to innovative treatment and drives toward a cure. This study is particularly meaningful for patients because of its potential to deliver safer and more effective drugs to treat lupus nephritis, one of the most common and dangerous complications of the disease.”

For more information visit LupusInsightPrize.org.

About Lupus
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation and tissue damage to any organ system in the body. An estimated 1.5 million Americans and at least 5 million people worldwide have lupus. 

About Lupus Nephritis, a Dangerous and Common Complication
Many people with lupus develop lupus nephritis — when lupus attacks the kidneys. Lupus nephritis is typically treated with immunosuppressive drugs that increase risk of infection as well as corticosteroids which can cause serious side effects such as weight gain and high blood pressure. People with lupus nephritis may need dialysis, which filters the blood through a machine to remove waste products from the body, and in severe cases, a kidney transplant.

For More Information about the Funding Organizations:
Alliance for Lupus Research
Lupus Foundation of America
Lupus Research Institute

About FOCIS
FOCIS exists to improve human health through immunology by fostering interdisciplinary approaches to understand and treat immune-based diseases.

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Media Contacts:
Courtney Love, Alliance for Lupus Research, clove@lupusresearch.org, 212-218-2869
Lauren Topf, Lupus Foundation of America, topf@lupus.org, 301-424-8546
Margy Meislin, Lupus Research Institute, mmeislin@lupusny.org, 212-685-4118 x34
Sarah Martis, Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies, smartis@focisnet.org, 414-359-1670 x1103

Source: Lupus Research Institute

Dr. George Tsokos (left) accepts the 2015 Lupus Insight Prize from Dr. Peter Lipsky (right)


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Learn More

About the Prize Funds

The institution of the Prize recipient will receive $200,000 to be used at the discretion of the recipient scientist with the expectation that those funds will be applied to research dedicated to advancing understanding of the genetic, environmental, molecular, immunologic or cellular aspects of lupus and/or its treatment. The Prize can be transferred to another institution (within the U.S.) in the event

Nominate a Lupus Insight Prize Candidate

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Nominate

Nominations for the Lupus Insight Prize should represent collaboration between the Nominator and Candidate. Nominations of basic, clinical, and translational scientists will be considered. Candidates can be investigators of any age or rank affiliated with an academic, biomedical, research, or government institution in the United States. Nominations will not be accepted for investigators working in the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industries. Additionally, Candidates may not already possess a grant award to pursue the aims described in the application for the Prize. Co-investigators or teams of investigators are not eligible for the Lupus Insight Prize.

How to Nominate

Nominators and Candidates should work together to prepare each Candidate's Letter of Nomination for The Lupus Insight Prize. Nominations of basic, clinical, and translational scientists will be considered. The Nominator should submit a two-page Letter of Nomination, describing the worthiness, expertise and achievements of the Candidate and specifically focus on the unique insight and/or discovery generated by the Candidate that might have an impact on advancing the future of lupus research. The letter of Nomination should clearly state the discovery for which the candidate is being nominated.

  • a description of the novel discovery, innovative concept, or unusually creative experimental approach that will be applied to lupus by the Candidate
  • anticipated goal of the proposed project
  • potential impact of the proposed research on the field as a whole, as well as its potential to galvanize, change, and/or revolutionize lupus research or treatment

Candidates for The Lupus Insight Prize will be reviewed for their achievements and assessed for their creativity and insight, but the most important criteria for selection is the novelty of the discovery and its likelihood of successful application for potential for future advances that will impact patients with lupus.

The Research Narrative should not be considered as a grant application, but should describe the applicant's unique insight and/or discovery and its potential to move lupus research forward. The Research Narrative should be a stand-alone document and cannot include any web links to additional materials. Appendices will not be accepted.

In addition to the Research Narrative, the Candidate should also submit a complete CV. Two blind letters in support of the Candidate (from people other than the Nominator) must also be solicited by the Candidate, and each must be submitted directly via proposalCENTRAL by the individual writing each letter. The application will not be considered complete without the two blind letters in support of the Candidate.

Each full application must be received electronically by March 19, 2015 at 5 p.m. ET via Altum’s proposalCENTRAL online system at https://proposalcentral.altum.com/. Hard copies will not be accepted under any circumstances.

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Dr. George C. Tsokos Selected as 2015 Recipient of the Lupus Insight Prize

NEW YORK, NY (May 21, 2015) – George C. Tsokos, M.D., Chief of the Rheumatology Division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, has been selected as the 2015 recipient of the Lupus Insight Prize. The Lupus Insight Prize is a collaborative initiative among the Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR), the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA), and the Lupus Research Institute (LRI).

Dr. Tsokos is widely recognized as one of the foremost leaders of modern lupus research with landmark discoveries that have brought understanding of lupus to new levels, shedding new light on how the disease develops and progresses over time. Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Clinical Immunology, he is on the editorial boards of more than 30 publications, has published over 400 papers and has received numerous awards and honors recognizing his contributions to the field.

The Lupus Insight Prize recognizes a major, novel insight and/or discovery that has the promise of changing thinking about lupus as well as a high likelihood of generating further advances in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. The award provides $200,000 for use in innovative research in the prototypical autoimmune disease lupus.

Innovative Project Aims to Improve Lupus Nephritis Treatment
Dr. Tsokos will use the award funds to study the molecular link between the immune system and the kidney damage seen frequently in patients with lupus nephritis, a dangerous complication of lupus. His efforts will also work to develop a targeted delivery of drugs to block the action of a single enzyme specifically to kidney cells. 

His earlier studies have shown that the enzyme calcium calmodulin kinase 4 (CaMK4) plays a role in autoimmunity and inflammation in lupus. In animal studies, Dr. Tsokos discovered that CaMK4 also damages kidney cells so they can no longer prevent proteins from leaking out of the kidneys into the urine.  This leakage, known as proteinuria, is a key indicator of lupus nephritis and can lead to edema - swelling of various parts of the body from a build-up of excess fluid.  Now, he will evaluate highly targeted delivery of drugs that inhibit CaMK4 while honing in on just those cells impacted by the enzyme.

“Our work has potential to significantly improve treatment of lupus nephritis, a condition that can lead to kidney failure, the need for chronic dialysis or kidney transplantation and potentially death,” commented Dr. Tsokos. “Such a specific administration of a drug targeting only those cells impacted by one enzyme should relieve lupus nephritis symptoms while minimizing debilitating side effects common with current treatment.”

Lupus Nephritis, a Dangerous and Common Complication
Many people with lupus develop lupus nephritis — when lupus attacks the kidneys. The most common symptom is swelling in the hands, feet or face. Signs of kidney damage can also include frequent urination, foamy or dark urine, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, and pain in the lower back. Lupus nephritis is typically treated with immunosuppressive drugs that increase risk of infection as well as corticosteroids which can cause serious side effects such as weight gain and high blood pressure. People with lupus nephritis may need dialysis, which filters the blood through a machine to remove waste products from the body, and in severe cases, a kidney transplant.

Award Presentation at FOCIS 2015
The three organizations will present Dr. Tsokos with the Lupus Insight Prize during a formal ceremony on June 24 at FOCIS 2015, the annual meeting of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies in San Diego. There, leading clinicians and researchers share the latest breakthroughs in lupus and other diseases affecting the immune system. Registration for the FOCIS meeting is not required to attend the ceremony. At the ceremony, Dr. Tsokos will share plans about his project and its implications for treating lupus nephritis.

An independent review committee selecting Dr. Tsokos’ project was comprised of leading lupus scientific leaders from across the country and representatives of the three sponsoring lupus organizations. Nominations were reviewed based on several criteria, including academic achievements, creativity, insight, and potential for future advances that will improve the lives of people with lupus.

About Lupus
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and tissue damage to any organ system in the body. The health effects of lupus include heart attacks, strokes, seizures, organ failure, and possible death. An estimated 1.5 million Americans and at least 5 million people worldwide have lupus.  

About the Funding Organizations
For more information about the Alliance for Lupus Research, visit www.alr.org/.
For more information about the Lupus Foundation of America, visit www.lupus.org.
For more information about the Lupus Research Institute, visit www.lupusresearchinstitute.org.

About FOCIS
FOCIS exists to improve human health through immunology by fostering interdisciplinary approaches to understand and treat immune-based diseases. The organization is made up of 56 Member Societies representing more than 65,000 clinician scientists. FOCIS 2015, to be held June 24-27 in San Diego, brings together an interdisciplinary group of world-renowned physicians and researchers to share the latest findings on lupus and other diseases impacting the immune system.

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Media Contacts:
Courtney Love, Alliance for Lupus Research, clove@lupusresearch.org, 212-218-2869
Lauren Topf, Lupus Foundation of America, topf@lupus.org, 301-424-8546
Margy Meislin, Lupus Research Institute, mmeislin@lupusny.org, 212-685-4118 x 34
Sarah Martis, Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies, smartis@focisnet.org, 414-359-1670 x1103

Source: Lupus Research Institute

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2014 Prize

Dr. Bruce Richardson Selected as the Second Recipient
of the Lupus Insight Prize

CHICAGO, IL -- Bruce Richardson, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Michigan, was honored Wednesday as the second recipient of the Lupus Insight Prize, the award for use in innovative research on lupus, an unpredictable and sometimes fatal autoimmune disease that affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans.  Dr. Richardson received the Prize during a formal ceremony at FOCIS 2014, the 14th Annual Meeting of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies in Chicago.

The Prize is a collaborative initiative among the Alliance for Lupus Research, the Lupus Foundation of America, and the Lupus Research Institute to recognize and honor the achievements of an outstanding investigator in the field whose research efforts have made significant contributions and have a high likelihood of generating further insights in understanding the causes, biology, treatments, or cure of lupus.

“I would like to thank the Alliance for Lupus Research, the Lupus Foundation of America and the Lupus Research Institute for this honor.  The award will allow us to identify epigenetically regulated gene products that may be targets for new lupus treatments, characterize how environmental stressors and diet affect lupus flare severity, and identify new ways to prevent lupus flares,” said Dr. Richardson.  “I would also like to thank all the people who worked in my laboratory and made these studies successful, and the others in the fields of epigenetics and autoimmunity that provided the foundations for this work.”  

Epigenetics looks at the mechanisms that turn genes on or off. These modifications may occur naturally or as a result of external factors including age, environment, lifestyle and disease state.  Dr. Richardson discovered that some lupus-causing drugs alter gene activity or expression in normal “helper” lymphocytes, converting them into autoreactive “killer” lymphocytes that attack other cells and cause lupus in mice.  He also found the same changes in gene expression in lymphocytes from patients with active lupus, and that many of the environmental agents implicated in lupus, as well as diet, contribute to the changes by altering gene expression.  With the award funds, Dr. Richardson will identify the genes affected by environmental agents, and determine how these environmental agents and diet cause changes in lymphocytes.  

Lupus Research Institute President and CEO Margaret Dowd commented, “Dr. Richardson’s pioneering work laid the foundation for the study of epigenetics in lupus and autoimmunity.  He continues to study how environmental exposures, genetic factors and epigenetic changes interact to trigger lupus disease and flares.”  

“Dr. Richardson’s research will help to identify potential new approaches to managing lupus and gives us new targets for developing drug therapies,” said Sandra Raymond, President and CEO of the Lupus Foundation of America.  “It also will provide clearer insight into which environmental factors are important in triggering lupus.”

“All of the organizations involved in this effort want to quickly improve the well-being of the 1.5 million Americans living with lupus and countless others who are affected by it,” said Kenneth Farber, President of the Alliance for Lupus Research.  “Working together with the other organizations and with innovators in their field to focus on our common goal to accelerate progress is the way that we are going to make a strong impact.”

Additional information about the Lupus Insight Prize and Dr. Richardson’s work in lupus are available online at www.lupusinsightprize.org. Information on the application process for the 2015 Prize will be posted in the coming weeks. 

About Lupus
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and tissue damage to any organ system in the body. The health effects of lupus include heart attacks, strokes, seizures, organ failure, and possible death. An estimated 1.5 million Americans and at least five million people worldwide have lupus.
About the Funding Organizations
For more information about the Alliance for Lupus Research, visit www.lupusresearch.org.
For more information about the Lupus Foundation of America, visit www.lupus.org.
For more information about the Lupus Research Institute, visit www.lupusresearchinstitute.org.

About FOCIS
FOCIS exists to improve human health through immunology by fostering interdisciplinary approaches to understand and treat immune-based diseases. FOCIS 2014 is the 14th Annual Meeting of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies in Boston, where scientists will present their findings on lupus and other diseases affecting the immune system. Thirty different specialties will be represented and over three hundred scientific papers will be presented.

Media Contacts:
Courtney Love, Alliance for Lupus Research, clove@lupusresearch.org, 212-218-2869
Duane Peters, Lupus Foundation of America, peters@lupus.org, 202-349-1145
Margy Meislin, Lupus Research Institute, mmeislin@lupusny.org, 212-685-4118 x 34
Sarah Martis, Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies, smartis@focisnet.org, 414-359-1670 x1103
Source: Alliance for Lupus Research

RSVP

The Lupus Insight Prize is awarded to an outstanding investigator who has developed novel research insight in scientific domains relevant to lupus.

Dr. Bruce Richardson, recipient of the 2014 Lupus Insight Prize

 

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Dr. Mark J. Shlomchik Receives Lupus Insight Prize Recognizing Outstanding Contribution in Lupus Research

JUNE 27, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC -- Mark J. Shlomchik, M.D., Ph.D., the incoming Chair of Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh, was honored Thursday as the first recipient of the Lupus Insight Prize, the first-of-a-kind award for use in innovative research on lupus, an unpredictable and sometimes fatal autoimmune disease that affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans. Dr. Shlomchik received the Prize during a formal ceremony at FOCIS 2013, the 13th Annual Meeting of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies in Boston.

The Prize is a collaborative initiative among the Alliance for Lupus Research, the Lupus Foundation of America, and the Lupus Research Institute to recognize and honor the achievements of an outstanding investigator in the field whose research efforts have a high likelihood of generating further advances in understanding the causes, biology, treatments, or cure of lupus.

"I would like to thank the three sponsoring organizations for bestowing this honor upon me," said Dr. Shlomchik. "Lupus is a very complex disease for which I have devoted much of my career. This award will enable me to further my research and make important contributions to understanding and treating this difficult disease."

With the award funds, Dr. Shlomchik will investigate the connection between the death of neutrophils, the body's most abundant white blood cells, and lupus. Many researchers believe lupus is the result of an abnormal immune response to dying cells. To fight infections, neutrophils use a molecule called NADPH oxidase. It was thought that this molecule may cause these neutrophils to die in a way that promotes an autoimmune response. However, to the surprise of most lupus researchers, Dr. Shlomchik discovered that lupus-prone mice that are missing this gene, have markedly worse disease—the opposite of the original theory.

Dr. Shlomchik will create new animal models of lupus that produce neutrophils lacking NADPH oxidase to test how this molecule prevents animals from developing severe lupus. Because NADPH oxidase is turned on by infections, the work could help researchers understand the role infections might play in triggering lupus.

"We are pleased to collaborate with the other organizations to find better ways to manage lupus and, ultimately, to find a cure," said Ken Farber, President of the Alliance for Lupus Research. "By bringing together leaders in their fields, and those with a common focus, we have the opportunity to positively impact the well-being of the 1.5 million Americans with lupus."

"Dr. Shlomchik's work has provided insight into the underlying causes of lupus and has identified pathways for further research," said Sandra Raymond, President and CEO of the Lupus Foundation of America. "Continued support of these research efforts on lupus holds promise of generating further advances in the diagnosis and treatment of this devastating disease."

Lupus Research Institute President and CEO Margaret Dowd commented, "The Lupus Insight Prize recognizes Dr. Shlomchik's outstanding contributions to the field and supports his ability to continue his innovative work. Judging by the exceptional quality of Dr. Shlomchik's work, we can look forward to his further progress in developing novel approaches for new treatments."

Additional information about the Lupus Insight Prize and Dr. Shlomchik's work in lupus are available online at www.lupusinsightprize.org. Information on the application process for the 2014 Prize will be posted in the coming weeks.

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