SPARC Provides $1.9 Million for Midwest Multi-Site Research on Autoimmune Diseases

Ines Martins, PhD avatar

by Ines Martins, PhD |

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systemic lupus erythematosus

systemic lupus erythematosusThe Strategic Pharma-Academic Research Consortium for Translational Medicine (SPARC) is going to provide more than $1.9 million to support studies on autoimmune diseases. The grant will be given to medical research universities located in the Midwest.

The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute leads SPARC, and the investigations will focuse on disorders such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, dermatomyositis and scleroderma.

SPARC includes four organizations, all funded by the National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Research Awards. The institutions are the Indiana CTSI, which comprises Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame, and institutions at Northwestern University, Ohio State University and Washington University in St. Louis.

The funds are maintained by Eli Lilly and Co. and Takeda Pharmaceuticals International Inc., SPARC’s industry associates.

“There’s a true wealth of expertise on autoimmune disorders across our membership, but there really was not a large-scale group in the region focused on the topic until the creation of this consortium,” said Anantha Shekhar, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Indiana CTSI, associate dean for translational research at the IU School of Medicine and associate vice president for university clinical affairs at IU in a recent news release. “We’re eager to help these scientists advance their critical work on these diseases — many of which are poorly understood despite their impact on millions in the U.S. and worldwide — and hope they may quickly translate into meaningful advances in treatment and therapy.”

The teams that will work on the projects selected by an independent governance council that represents every SPARC member. Each team will receive up to $400,000 to conduct their investigations, and SPARC will fund each investigation for a total of two years. According to a recent news release, among the grant holders are Brad H. Rovin, M.D., from Ohio State University, and David A. Flockhart, M.D., Ph.D., Harry, Edith Gladstein, and Michael T. Eadon, M.D., from the Indiana University School of Medicine. The team will work on the ability to predict patients’ response to treatment addressing lupus-related kidney inflammation, an autoimmune disorder that affects 1.5 million Americans and many millions worldwide.