Three organizations focused on helping patients with lupus are banding together once again to recognize an outstanding research project. The Alliance for Lupus Research, the Lupus Foundation of America, and the Lupus Research Institute are calling for research nominations to win the Lupus Insight Prize, now in its fourth year.
The Lupus Insight Prize is a collaborative initiative that offers an investigator $200,000 and an opportunity to advance important scientific discoveries in lupus research.
Nominations for the 2016 prize are due by 5 p.m. Eastern time April 22, and the award will be granted by the three organizations at the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS) annual meeting in Boston this June, according to a press release. The prize aims to recognize a major, novel insight and/or discovery which may alter thinking about lupus while holding a high likelihood of generating further advances in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune condition that affects an estimated 1.5 million people in the U.S. alone. It makes the body’s immune system turn on itself to attack healthy organs and tissue.
“The Lupus Insight Prize was designed to recognize a significant scientific discovery or achievement in an area with potential relevance to lupus and to support extension of that research, with the goal of achieving important advances in our understanding, and ultimately treatment, of patients with lupus,” said Mary K. Crow, M.D., chair of the ALR Scientific Advisory Board who serves as physician-in-chief and chair of the Department of Medicine at The Hospital for Special Surgery, in a news release.
“The prize is also meant to shine a light on lupus and lupus research — to raise the visibility of this important disease. The awarding of the prize at a special session at the annual FOCIS meeting has become a highlight of the meeting and provides a forum for discussion of research advances.”
The winner of the 2016 Insight Prize will be awarded $200,000 to be invested in research to advance understanding of the genetic, environmental, molecular, immunologic, or cellular aspects of lupus and its treatment. Investigators of any age or an affiliation with an academic, biomedical, research, or government institution in the U.S. can apply. However, the organizations don’t accept nominations from investigators in the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industries or investigators who already have a similar grant award.
Members of the independent selection committee, including leading lupus scientific leaders from across the country and representatives of the three funding lupus organizations, will review each nomination. The Lupus Insight Prize will be awarded based on a number of criteria, such as academic achievements, creativity, insight, and potential for future advances that will improve the lives of people with lupus.
“Lupus is a complex disease that is hard to understand and a challenge to treat,” said Gary S. Gilkeson, M.D., chair of the Lupus Foundation of America Medical-Scientific Advisory Council and associate dean for Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development, Medical University of South Carolina. “Ongoing research is critical to advancing our understanding of lupus and finding new ways to treat the disease. We are proud to collaborate to bring opportunities to lupus research at a time when funding is scarce.”
The 2015 Lupus Insight Prize was awarded to investigator Dr. George C. Tsokos, M.D., who serves as chief of the Rheumatology Division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Another former award winner is Dr. Mark Shlomchik, M.D., Ph.D., LRI Scientific Advisory Board member and professor and chair, Department of Immunology, University of Pittsburgh. “This prize, in addition to recognizing my past contributions to lupus-related research, allowed me to get into completely new areas of lupus pathogenesis research,” Shlomchik said. “These are studies that I could never have started without the Lupus Insight Prize as they were too exploratory and risky to be funded by traditional means.”
At the annual meeting in June, when the winner of the award will be announced, the investigator will also provide details about his or her lupus research and future plans. Full instructions on how to submit a nomination for the Lupus Insight Prize and complete guidelines are available at LupusInsightPrize.org.