Lupus. It’s unsung, largely unknown, often the butt of jokes (see Mitch Hedberg). What is it? What’s being done about it? Well, lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system starts attacking itself. Fun, right? Antibodies designed to fight off foreign invaders instead start attacking the body’s own joints, skin, and/or organs. It’s all about inflammation, as with many things, and in lupus, the patient suffers through cycles of flare-ups and remissions.
The Lupus Research Institute was founded in 2000, and it has a brave, no-holds-barred approach to fighting for a cure for this terrible affliction. “Established in 2000, we now have the largest number and widest range of lupus research investigations nationwide—LRI scientists are at 61 academic medical centers across 22 states,” reads the LRI website. “We’ve awarded $40 million to 125 novel ideas in lupus. We’ve shaken up the field and are changing the very course of lupus research.”
Now, LRI is partnering with the Alliance for Lupus Research and Lupus Foundation of America for its 2015 Lupus Insight Prize. Now in its third year, the prize recognizes a major novel insight and/or discovery that has the promise of changing thinking about lupus. They’re looking for game changers: things that have the potential to create significant advances in diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Nominations for the prize should represent collaboration between the nominator and candidate. Nominations of basic, clinical, and translational scientists will be considered.
The pot? $200,000. It has to be used within three years of receipt, and it can go towards research that advances understanding of the genetic, environmental, molecular, immunologic, or cellular aspects of lupus and/or its treatment.
In the past, LRI’s awardees have tackled everything from finding the specific source of the inflammation and damage, to tracking the onset of the disease and finding ways to stop it before it starts, to seeking targeted therapies using genetically engineered mice. For the complete RFP, see the LRI website.