UT Southwestern secures $5 million NIH grant for lupus research

December 19, 2007

DALLAS - Dec. 19, 2007 - The division of rheumatic diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center has been awarded a five-year, $5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund the Center of Research Translation, which will investigate the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

"There are a limited number of these centers around the country, so this is a major accomplishment for UT Southwestern," said Dr. David Karp, chief of rheumatic diseases. "This is a field in which UT Southwestern has had a leadership role for more than 50 years. We are proud to be continuing that tradition by building on our laboratory research findings and turning them into new ways to help patients with lupus and other autoimmune diseases."

Under principal investigators Drs. Chandra Mohan and Nancy Olsen, the project brings together UT Southwestern researchers from the departments of Immunology, of Microbiology and of Clinical Sciences, along with researchers from the Baylor Institute of Immunological Research.

"Lupus research brings together all of these researchers on a regular basis," Dr. Mohan said. "Although we've been interacting and collaborating on different projects for several years, this is the first time our collective research has been formally funded by a center grant. The overarching theme of this research is to translate our findings from basic research in mice to human SLE."

The scientists are divided into four interconnected research groups focused on key aspects of SLE development.

Dr. Mohan, professor of internal medicine, together with Dr. Anne Satterthwaite, assistant professor of internal medicine, will head a group focusing on why B-cells start to attack the body in SLE patients.

Overseeing a group working to identify the specific features that mark progression of the disease in SLE patients are Dr. Olsen, professor of internal medicine, and Dr. Karp.

Dr. Edward Wakeland, chairman of immunology and director of the Center for Basic Research in Molecular Immunology, will head a team investigating how a cluster of genes called the SLAM/CD contributes to SLE.

The fourth group, from the Baylor institute, will work to understand how dendritic cells and B-cells interact and shape human SLE.

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the Center of Research Translation are Dr. Quan Li, assistant professor of immunology, and Dr. Laurie Davis, associate professor of internal medicine.
-end-
Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/patientcare/medicalservices/rheumatology.html to learn more about UT Southwestern's clinical services in rheumatology.

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Dr. David Karp -- http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/findfac/professional/0,2356,13762,00.html

Dr. Chandra Mohan -- http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/findfac/professional/0,2356,38207,00.html

Dr. Nancy Olsen -- http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/findfac/professional/0,2356,67602,00.html

UT Southwestern Medical Center

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