The Lupus Foundation of America’s (LFA) Gina M. Finzi Memorial Student Summer Fellowship Program aims to cultivate the next generation of lupus researchers. This year, six new members are well on their way.
”The Gina M. Finzi Memorial Student Summer Fellowship Program is an incredibly important grant opportunity. It helps motivate and initiate young generations of students into lupus research, a field that must continue to grow,” Christina Drenkard, MD, PhD and mentor to a 2019 program fellow, said in a press release.
”This program provides students with a rich, hands-on experience by conducting their own study during the summer. It’s a unique opportunity for these young scientists, and elevates lupus research early in their education,” Drenkard said.
The fellows are spending their summer exploring areas vital to the field’s advancement. Their work is expected to contribute to new treatments, prevention strategies and educational solutions to better understand, detect, and treat lupus, a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks tissues and organs. Each fellow is mentored by an established lupus researcher.
The 35-year-old program, named after the late daughter of former LFA president Sergio Finzi, has supported some 200 young investigators across North America, many of whom have become prominent lupus scientists.
This year’s fellows are:
- Philip Carlucci, New York University School of Medicine, is studying the relationship between ligand polymorphism HLA-C Asn80lys in natural killer cells and lupus nephritis, an inflammation of the kidney caused by systemic lupus erythematosus (SLA).
- Lin Chen, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is conducting a study titled “Ptprz: Impact on Tubules and Macrophage Mediated Lupus.” The gene Ptprz encodes a member of the receptor protein tyrosine phosphatase family.
- Erica Crosley, Emory University School of Medicine, is producing research titled “Understanding Latino Lupus Patients’ Education Needs via Mixed Methods Analysis of the Spanish-speaking Facebook Page “Hablemos de Lupus (‘Let’s Talk About Lupus’)”.
- Erica Moore, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, is researching “The Pathogenic Role of T Cells in Neuropsychiatric Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.”
- Kathryn Wierenga, Michigan State University, is working on “Unraveling How Omega-3 Fatty Acids Suppress Lupus Flaring.”
- Thomas Winans, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, is studying “The Effects of Rab4A Q72L Knock-In Mutation on Interferons I/II Receptors, Behavior and Brain Metabolome in a Mouse Model.”
“We are committed to ensuring the lupus research field is growing, and that means investing in young scientists with an interest in lupus research,” said Stevan W. Gibson, the LFA’s president and CEO. He called the program “an unparalleled opportunity that makes it possible for students pursuing their education to advance their lupus research career path.”
The LFA estimates that lupus affects at least five million people — mostly women — globally, including 1.5 million U.S. residents.