About Us - The Scleroderma Research Foundation

Research is the key…

The Scleroderma Research Foundation (SRF) was established in 1987 by patient turned activist Sharon Monsky, when research on this potentially life threatening illness was nearly nonexistent. Since our founding, we’ve stood firm in our belief that the best way to help scleroderma patients is to fund the most promising medical research aimed at improved therapies and a cure. The SRF is America's largest nonprofit investor in scleroderma research. Patients and their loved ones find hope in the fact the SRF is dedicated exclusively to funding medical research that will help them live longer, fuller lives. Thanks in large part to the SRF and its many generous donors, research and awareness is progressing at a faster pace than ever before.

The SRF funds research investigators at some of the top universities in the United States and abroad, including Dartmouth, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Royal Free and University College in the UK, Stanford University, Northwestern, Boston University, the University of Michigan, the University of Washington and others. Led by a Scientific Advisory Board comprised of some of the most highly-regarded scientists in the nation, the SRF's research program brings together experts from the fields of immunology and vascular biology as well as cutting-edge technology for the benefit of scleroderma patients.

The SRF is proud to maintain its position as the single largest nonprofit funding source for scleroderma research and devotes a greater percentage of its annual budget to scleroderma research, more than any other nonprofit organization.

Medical research to find better treatments for scleroderma patients is both time-consuming and expensive. Thanks entirely to thousands of supporters and generous donors, the SRF is able to expedite research progress and bring top scientists into the field of scleroderma research. The unique collaborative approach conceived by founder Sharon Monsky is enabling scientists from leading institutions across the nation—and around the world—to work together and develop an understanding of how the disease begins, how it progresses and what can be done to slow, halt or reverse the disease process.

Centers of Excellence

As another core feature of its research program, the SRF continues to provide funding to establish and support Scleroderma Centers where clinical research can be advanced. At these Centers, clinicians with large numbers of patients can collaborate with researchers and new scleroderma doctors and specialists can be trained.

Next Generation Investigators

Knowing that future discovery will come from the next generation of scientists, the SRF continues to provide grants to young investigators. Postdoctoral fellowship grants allow researchers to enter the field of scleroderma research and work alongside established investigators. As an indicator of success, several SRF-funded fellows are now dedicating their early careers to the field of scleroderma research.

Annual Scientific Workshop

Each year, the SRF hosts a Scientific Workshop where SRF-funded researchers and leaders from academia and industry engage in high level discussions about the state of scleroderma research. In addition, the SRF supports important educational initiatives such as the International Scleroderma Workshop. Collectively, these programs promote the sharing of ideas and new discoveries that further progress toward a cure.

Current IRS Form 990 and audited financial statements are available for review as Adobe PDF downloads in the Legal Notices and Privacy Information section of this website.

The continued success of the SRF research program is entirely dependent upon charitable gifts. These gifts come in many forms from generous people around the world who recognize that the SRF is dedicated to solving the mystery of scleroderma.

The SRF administrative offices are led by:

Amy Hewitt
Executive Director

Alex Gonzalez
Director of Development

Brendan Doherty
Director of Communications

 

 
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Research News

Systematic Autoantigen Analysis Identifies a Distinct Subtype of Scleroderma with Coincident Cancer

Author: George J. Xu, Ami A. Shahf, Mamie Z. Li, Qikai Xu, Antony Rosen, Livia Casciola-Rosen, and Stephen J. Elledge
Date Published: November-2016
Source: PNAS

In this study, we created a barcoded whole-genome ORF mRNA display library and combined it with phage-immunoprecipitation sequencing to look for autoantibodies in sera from patients with scleroderma who also had coincident cancer without a known autoantibody biomarker. Using these two technologies, we found that 25% of these patients had autoantibodies to RNA Binding Region Containing 3 (RNPC3) and multiple other components of the minor spliceosome. There was evidence of intra- and intermolecular epitope spreading within RNPC3 and the complex. These combined technologies are highly effective for rapidly discovering autoantibodies in patient subgroups, which will be useful tools for patient stratification and discovery of pathogenic pathways.

Targeted Therapy for Scleroderma Fibrosis

Author: Sara R. Schoenfeld, MD, & Flavia V. Castelino, MD
Date Published: October-2016
Source: The Rheumatologist

Scleroderma, or systemic sclerosis (SSc), is an autoimmune disease characterized by vasculopathy and fibrosis. Although relatively rare, with a prevalence in North America of approximately 300 per 1 million people, SSc is associated with significant morbidity and high rates of mortality.1 Patients with scleroderma have four times greater mortality than age- and sex-matched controls, with the majority of deaths related to interstitial lung disease (ILD) and pulmonary hypertension (PH).2

PAH Medications, Tracleer and Opsumit, Seen to Block Fibrosis in Systemic Sclerosis in Early Study

Author: Joana Fernandes, PHD
Date Published: October-2016
Source: Scleroderma News

Two approved treatments for pulmonary arterial hypertension — Tracleer (bosentan) and Opsumit (macitentan) — can block a molecular pathway that promotes fibrosis in systemic sclerosis (SSc), and may be a potential therapy for these patients as well, according to an early study. The study, “Bosentan And Macitentan Prevent The Endothelial-To-Mesenchymal Transition (Endomt) In Systemic Sclerosis: In Vitro Study,” was published in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy.

Many Systemic Sclerosis Patients with Raynaud’s Syndrome Soon Develop Other Conditions

Author: Joana Fernandes, PHD
Date Published: October-2016
Source: Scleroderma News

Patients with systemic sclerosis and Raynaud’s syndrome have a high risk of developing other organ complications within two years after the onset of Raynaud’s, according to a study published in the journal PLoS One. The authors reported that these complications mainly occur in the skin, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, heart, kidneys and prostate. The study, “Incidences and Risk Factors of Organ Manifestations in the Early Course of Systemic Sclerosis: A Longitudinal EUSTAR Study,” was conducted by Veronika Jaeger and her colleagues from the University Hospital Basel in Switzerland.

Platelets induce thymic stromal lymphopoietin production by endothelial cells: Contribution to human systemic sclerosis fibrosis

Author: Marie-Elise Truchetet MD-PhD1, Béatrice Demoures, Jorge E. Guimaraes, Anne Bertrand, Paôline Laurent1, Valérie Jolivel1, et al
Date Published: July-2016
Source: Arthritis & Rheumatology

Objective To investigate the relationship between vascular damage and fibrosis in systemic sclerosis (SSc), we tested the hypothesis that platelets contribute to skin fibrosis via the activation of dermal microvascular endothelial cells and subsequent production of pro-fibrotic mediators.

Methods A total of 203 SSc patients and 30 healthy donors (HDs) were prospectively enrolled between 2012 and 2015 at the University Hospital of Bordeaux. Immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence analyses were performed on skin biopsies from 18 SSc patients and 5 HDs. Serum TSLP levels were measured (ELISA) in the entire cohort. Human dermal microvascular endothelial cells and fibroblasts were purified from biopsies. Extracellular matrix production by cultured fibroblasts was assessed by RT-qPCR.

News for Patients

Rituximab Effective Long-Term for Systemic Sclerosis

Author: Pauline Anderson
Date Published: November-2016
Source: MedPage Today

New research provides additional evidence that rituximab, a B-cell depletion therapy, improves lung fibrosis and reduces skin thickening in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc).

Over 7 years, pulmonary function was stabilized or improved in SSc patients with interstitial lung disease receiving rituximab, and the drug also helped resolve skin thickening in these patients. As well, the study showed that cessation of rituximab therapy was associated with a decline in pulmonary function, and that the drug had an acceptable safety profile.

Parenting and Scleroderma: How Does That Work?

Author: Kim Tocker
Date Published: November-2016
Source: Scleroderma News

“If you didn’t have scleroderma then you’d be a normal Mum, aye?”

Our youngest was making a comment about how he loves going for bike rides with his Dad, and wished I could come, too. In the same conversation, he talked about missing me at the latest school sports afternoon, and described how lots of the other kids’ mums had participated in the parents’ running races.

Immediately I had visions of myself in slow motion. His mum crawling over the finish line about half an hour after the race actually finished, with a few of the parents who felt sorry for me obligingly clapping from the sidelines. I also could visualize my prednisone fat quivering in the sun as I lay there gasping for breath. No, it all would be awfully unmanageable, and also extremely traumatic, for those having to witness that sight.

Systematic Autoantigen Analysis Identifies a Distinct Subtype of Scleroderma with Coincident Cancer

Author: George J. Xu, Ami A. Shahf, Mamie Z. Li, Qikai Xu, Antony Rosen, Livia Casciola-Rosen, and Stephen J. Elledge
Date Published: November-2016
Source: PNAS

In this study, we created a barcoded whole-genome ORF mRNA display library and combined it with phage-immunoprecipitation sequencing to look for autoantibodies in sera from patients with scleroderma who also had coincident cancer without a known autoantibody biomarker. Using these two technologies, we found that 25% of these patients had autoantibodies to RNA Binding Region Containing 3 (RNPC3) and multiple other components of the minor spliceosome. There was evidence of intra- and intermolecular epitope spreading within RNPC3 and the complex. These combined technologies are highly effective for rapidly discovering autoantibodies in patient subgroups, which will be useful tools for patient stratification and discovery of pathogenic pathways.

New Study Suggests Way to Slow Skin Fibrosis in Scleroderma

Author: HSS
Date Published: November-2016
Source: Press Release

The prognosis for patients diagnosed with scleroderma - an autoimmune disease characterized by fibrosis of the skin - is not typically a rosy one. With limited treatment options available, those suffering from the disorder can face disabling hardening and tightening of their skin. Scleroderma can also affect the blood vessels, lungs and other internal organs.

Many Systemic Sclerosis Patients with Raynaud’s Syndrome Soon Develop Other Conditions

Author: Joana Fernandes, PHD
Date Published: October-2016
Source: Scleroderma News

Patients with systemic sclerosis and Raynaud’s syndrome have a high risk of developing other organ complications within two years after the onset of Raynaud’s, according to a study published in the journal PLoS One. The authors reported that these complications mainly occur in the skin, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, heart, kidneys and prostate. The study, “Incidences and Risk Factors of Organ Manifestations in the Early Course of Systemic Sclerosis: A Longitudinal EUSTAR Study,” was conducted by Veronika Jaeger and her colleagues from the University Hospital Basel in Switzerland.

Ways to Give

There are many ways that you can support the work of the Scleroderma Research Foundation. We are grateful for your commitment to helping the SRF fund research that will result in improved therapies and, ultimately, a cure.

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