Rheumatologists win $1.2M for arthritis research

November 05, 2007

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Three researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have been awarded a combined $1.2 million to study the underlying causes of rheumatoid arthritis and to help find a cure for the disease.

The grants were among 15 awards nationwide made through the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Research and Education Foundation.

The funds will be used by UAB experts to explore more deeply the molecular development of rheumatoid arthritis with the hope of finding new medicines and drug targets that slow or halt the disease. Another feature of UAB's research will be to identify hereditary and biological differences between some arthritis patients, and whether genetic markers could improve diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

Three physicians working in the UAB Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology each were awarded $400,000. Robert H. Carter, M.D., and John Mountz, M.D., won grants in the innovative basic research category; S. Louis Bridges, M.D., won a grant in the translational research category.

"One of the strengths of these studies is being able take the strides that have been made in the treatment and management of rheumatoid arthritis, and build on that knowledge as we continue working toward better treatments and curative care," said Carter, director of the Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology.

The three projects that earned ACR funding are: These studies will benefit rheumatoid arthritis patients and their families directly since they will draw upon volunteer participants, especially those who live in Alabama and throughout the Southeast. Rheumatoid arthritis affects more than one in every 200 Americans.

Carter said the world-renowned basic research taking place at UAB is one of the main reasons the trio of physicians were selected among an elite group nationally for the arthritis grants. UAB's rheumatology and immunology laboratories are equipped to accelerate new innovations into the testing and patient-care setting to help fight rheumatoid arthritis, he said.
The ACR Research and Education Foundation funding is part of the association's new "Within Our Reach: Finding a Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis" campaign. The UAB awards were part of a larger grant announcement for projects totaling $6 million.

University of Alabama at Birmingham

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