The Lupus Research Alliance (LRA), newly formed from the merger of three different lupus groups, had its debut at the recent Inaugural Gala in New York, a fundraising event that collected over $2.5 million to support lupus research initiatives.
The gala was co-hosted by Robert Wood Johnson IV, LRA chairman and chief executive officer of the New York Jets, Richard K. DeScherer, LRA vice-chair and chief legal & compliance officer at Bloomberg, and Robert Pittman, an LRA board member and chairman and chief executive officer at iHeartMedia. Carol Weisman,a lupus patient, also co-hosted the evening.
All money raised goes to directly to support lupus research, the alliance said in a press release.
Brenda Blackmon, Emmy award-winning journalist, and lupus advocate whose daughter has the disease, served as master of ceremonies.
Pfizer was presented the Corporate Leadership Award for its ongoing work to improve lupus treatments. Freda-Lewis Hall, MD, the company’s executive vice president and chief medical officer, accepted the award.
“Our commitment to patients with lupus is tied closely to our mission to develop new, safe and effective therapies, especially where there is high medical need. We are proud to collaborate with the Lupus Research Alliance because together we are stronger and smarter than either of us alone,” Hall said in the release.
All 18 members of the LRA’s founding Board of Directors were honored for their efforts in uniting what were three separate groups — Alliance for Lupus Research, Lupus Research Institute, and S.L.E. Lupus Foundation — into one organization with a singular objective: to “free the world of lupus through the power of science.”
“Tonight we recognize the leaders who spearheaded this historic merger,” DeScherer said. “Every person on our Board either has lupus or cares deeply about someone who does. That personal connection is transformed directly into action to accelerate the emerging science we need to find better treatments and a cure.”
The LRA, which defines itself on its website as the “world’s largest private funder of lupus research,” also announced this month that it raised $3 million through two fundraising efforts, the 2016 Walk with Us to Cure Lupus program and the group’s TCS NYC Marathon team.
The organization also unveiled its new symbol at the gala. An LRA promotional video, offering more information, is below.