Mercy College Researchers Get $600K Grant to Study Care, Research Gaps Among Young Lupus Patients

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by Mary Chapman |

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Mercy College grant

To help address disparities in the research and care of adolescents with lupus, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) has awarded Mercy College a three-year, $600,000 research grant.

Titled “Adolescents with Lupus: The Impact of Patient/Provider Discordance, Depression, Cognition and Language,” the research project will delve into issues surrounding the autoimmune disease that frequently cause disabilities and substandard quality of life.

Lupus occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues and organs, and may manifest in the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs. The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 million U.S. residents, and about 5 million worldwide, have a form of lupus, which strikes mostly women of childbearing age.

There’s a greater risk for disability and death when the disease is diagnosed in childhood and among ethnic minorities. In addition, patients from lower socioeconomic backgrounds tend to have poorer outcomes.

With the goal of better understanding such chasms in prevalence and care, the study hopes to find ways healthcare providers can better recognize depression, cognitive problems, language barriers, and deficient physical and social functioning in youngsters who have lupus.

Mercy awardees include Kathleen Kenney-Riley, Shari Berkowitz, PhD, and Kim Rapoza, PhD. The associate professors at the New York City-area college have collaborated for the past four years as fellows with Langston University’s Institutional Research Capacity Building and Infrastructure Model, a mentoring program crafted to hone disability and rehabilitation research and grant-gaining prowess.

“We are very proud of the outstanding and remarkable achievement of our three faculty who were awarded this prestigious and competitive grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research,” Joan Toglia, dean and professor of the School of Health and Natural Sciences at Mercy College, said in a press release.

“In addition to fulfilling an important knowledge gap in the care of adolescents with lupus, this grant also represents a significant advancement for faculty research at Mercy College. I look forward to supporting this research,” he added.

NIDILRR is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living. Its Field Initiated Projects Program is meant to enable more minority-serving institutions to perform extensive disability and rehabilitation studies.

This is expected to be the sole such grant the NIDILRR awards this year.