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 medical research aimed at improved therapies and a cure. Today, we are the nation’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 country, 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 continues to lead the way in funding scleroderma research. It has maintained 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. In the fiscal year ending 2013, the SRF funded more than $1,000,000 in direct research grants.

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 SRF’s collaborative approach 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.

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.

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.

Each year, the SRF hosts a Scientific Workshop where SRF-funded researchers and other investigators 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 lead staff are:

Alex Gonzalez
Director of Development

Amy Hewitt
Executive Director

Charles Spaulding
Vice President, Communications

 
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Research News

An Immunochip based interrogation of scleroderma susceptibility variants identifies a novel association at DNASE1L3

Author: Jane Zochling, Felicity Newell, Jac C Charlesworth, et al
Date Published: October-2014
Source: Arthritis Research & Therapy

Introduction: The aim of the study was to interrogate the genetic architecture and autoimmune pleiotropy of scleroderma susceptibility in the Australian population. Methods: We genotyped individuals from a well-characterized cohort of Australian scleroderma patients with the Immunochip, a custom array enriched for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at immune loci. Controls were taken from the 1958 British Birth Cohort.

The Tsk2/+ Mouse Fibrotic Phenotype is Due to a Gain-of-Function Mutation in the PIIINP Segment of the Col3a1 Gene

Author: Kristen B Long, Zhenghui Li, Chelsea M Burgwin, et al
Date Published: October-2014
Source: Journal of Investigative Dermatology

Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a polygenic, autoimmune disorder of unknown etiology, characterized by the excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, vascular alterations, and autoantibodies. The tight skin (Tsk)2/+ mouse model of SSc demonstrates signs similar to SSc including tight skin and excessive deposition of dermal ECM proteins. By linkage analysis, we mapped the Tsk2 gene mutation to less than 3 megabases on chromosome 1.

Scleroderma: the role of serum autoantibodies in defining specific clinical phenotypes and organ system involvement.

Author: Robyn Domsic
Date Published: September-2014
Source: Current Opinion in Rheumatology

Purpose of review: To discuss recent advances in serologic testing for systemic sclerosis (SSc)-associated antibodies with respect to the diagnosis and prognosis of the disease. Recent findings: The importance of SSc antibodies for diagnosis has become increasingly recognized, as evidenced by incorporation into the 2013 American College of Rheumatology/the European League Against Rheumatism clinical classification criteria for SSc.

Emerging cellular and molecular targets in fibrosis: implications for scleroderma pathogenesis and targeted therapy.

Author: Castelino FV, Varga J.
Date Published: September-2014
Source: Current Opinion in Rheumatology

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To summarize the recent advances in understanding the novel cytokine pathways, intracellular signaling molecules, cell-fate decisions, cellular aging and senescence, and the cross-talk of effector cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM) in the pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis (SSc) fibrosis. RECENT FINDINGS: Studies from the animal models and human beings implicate novel molecular pathways such as Wnts, the chemokines, chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 4 and chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2, and the lipid mediators lysophosphatidic acid and sphingosine-1-phosphate in the pathogenesis of SSc. These signals, coupled with the mesenchymal cell-fate decisions, contribute to aberrant fibroblast activation and myofibroblast accumulation.

Update on scleroderma-associated interstitial lung disease.

Author: Fan MH, Feghali-Bostwick CA, Silver RM.
Date Published: September-2014
Source: Current Opinion in Rheumatology

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Systemic sclerosis (SSc), or scleroderma, is a heterogeneous and complex autoimmune disease characterized by varying degrees of skin and organ fibrosis and obliterative vasculopathy. The disease results in significant morbidity and mortality, and to date, available treatments are limited. Lung involvement is the leading cause of death of patients with SSc. Over the past year, significant advances have been made in our understanding of SSc-associated lung disease, and this review attempts to encapsulate these most recent findings and place them in context.

News for Patients

Interstitial Pneumonia? Rheumatic Disease Has Better Odds Than Idiopathic

Author: Rita Baron-Faust
Date Published: October-2014
Source: Rheumatology Network

Patients who have connective tissue disease (CTD) survive longer with interstitial pneumonia than those with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), according to new research, although declines in pulmonary function over time appear similar in both groups. Researchers from the National Jewish Health center in Denver speculate that the worse outcome in IPF patients is due to a higher rate of fatal acute exacerbations of pulmonary fibrosis than among CTD patients with “usual” interstitial pneumonia.

Extra Help With Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs

Author: Social Security Administration
Date Published: October-2014
Source: Social Security Administration

Welcome! The Medicare Prescription Drug program gives you a choice of prescription plans that offer various types of coverage. You may be able to get extra help to pay for the monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and co-payments related to the Medicare Prescription Drug program. However, you must be enrolled in a Medicare Prescription Drug plan to get this extra help.

Scientists make important breakthrough in fight against debilitating autoimmune diseases

Author: University of Bristol
Date Published: September-2014
Source: News Medical

cientists have made an important breakthrough in the fight against debilitating autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis by revealing how to stop cells attacking healthy body tissue. Rather than the body's immune system destroying its own tissue by mistake, researchers at the University of Bristol have discovered how cells convert from being aggressive to actually protecting against disease.

Boehringer Ingelheim’s OFEV™ (nintedanib*) approved by the FDA for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Author: Dr. Kristin Jakobs
Date Published: October-2014
Source: BusinessWire

Boehringer Ingelheim announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved OFEV™ (nintedanib*) for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a debilitating and fatal lung disease, which has a median survival of 2-3 years after diagnosis. Until today there were no FDA-approved treatments for IPF. Granted Breakthrough Therapy designation during its review by the FDA, nintedanib* is the first and only tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) approved to treat IPF. Nintedanib* is taken as one capsule twice daily and will be available to patients within 10 days.

FDA Approves Esbriet® (pirfenidone) for the Treatment of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) in the United States

Author: InterMune
Date Published: October-2014
Source: InterMune Press Release

Genentech, a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Esbriet® (pirfenidone) as a treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in the United States. IPF is a fatal disease caused by progressive scarring (fibrosis) of the lungs, which makes breathing difficult and prevents the heart, muscles and vital organs from receiving enough oxygen to work properly. The disease can advance quickly or slowly, but eventually the lungs will harden and stop working altogether.

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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