Karen H. Costenbader, MD, is the new chairwoman of the medical-scientific advisory council of the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA).
Chairman of the LFA’s national board of directors, Conrad Gehrmann, announced the appointment earlier this week. Costenbader will lead the multi-disciplinary group of lupus experts to address unmet needs in research and professional development efforts.
LFA is a national non-profit organization working to support research studies in lupus. For the past 40 years, LFA has funded or supported more than 400 lupus studies in the United States. Recent efforts have focused on supporting patient-focused research that improves quality of life and stimulates faster progress to develop new and improved lupus therapies.
“Lupus is a cruel mystery requiring a comprehensive approach to address the hard questions and to create the change needed for people with lupus, sooner rather than later,” Costenbader said in a press release. “I look forward to collaborating with lupus experts around the world to support groundbreaking studies that will improve the lives of lupus patients.”
Costenbader is the director of the Lupus Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. The rheumatologist was the first to receive LFA’s Mary Betty Stevens Young Investigator Prize in 2009, an award that recognizes exceptional achievements in the early part of a researcher’s career in lupus.
“People living with lupus have waited long enough to have access to new effective and more tolerable therapies,” added Sandra C. Raymond, CEO of LFA. “In her new leadership role, Dr. Costenbader will further expand the Foundation’s strategic partnerships with key opinion leaders in lupus around the world to increase the Foundation’s reach and growing impact in efforts to help people with lupus now.”
In the line of LFA’s latest patient-focused research, the non-profit announced in September the launch of LupusConnect, an online community to provide support to patients, families and friends a platform to share experiences, to find emotional support and to learn more about the daily struggles of lupus.
LupusConnect was created after a study that sought to better understand factors that affect lupus patients. Researchers determined that most people with lupus need better social support and assistance, especially online, to help cope with the disease. In response, the foundation partnered with Inspire to create an online community designed to fill that unmet need.
LupusConnect is a free service. After signing up, members gain 24/7 access to a series of discussion topics posted by the community and can start personalizing their profile to follow specific posts and threads, and engage in specific discussions only, whether it is with friends, family or other members of the community.