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

Treatment outcome in early diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis: the European Scleroderma Observational Study (ESOS)

Author: A. Herrick, X. Pan, S. Peytrignet, M. Lunt, R. Hesselstrand, L. Mouthon, A. Silman, E. Brown, L. Czirják, J. Distler, O. Distler, et al
Date Published: February-2017
Source: Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases

Objectives The rarity of early diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis (dcSSc) makes randomised controlled trials very difficult. We aimed to use an observational approach to compare effectiveness of currently used treatment approaches.

Methods This was a prospective, observational cohort study of early dcSSc (within three years of onset of skin thickening). Clinicians selected one of four protocols for each patient: methotrexate, mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), cyclophosphamide or ‘no immunosuppressant’. Patients were assessed three-monthly for up to 24 months. The primary outcome was the change in modified Rodnan skin score (mRSS). Confounding by indication at baseline was accounted for using inverse probability of treatment (IPT) weights. As a secondary outcome, an IPT-weighted Cox model was used to test for differences in survival.

Changes in plasma CXCL4 levels are associated with improvements in lung function in patients receiving immunosuppressive therapy for systemic sclerosis-related interstitial lung disease

Author: E. Volkmann, D. Tashkin, M. Roth, P. Clements, D. Khanna, D. Furst, M. Mayes, J. Charles, C. Tseng, R. Elashoff and S. Assassi
Date Published: January-2017
Source: Arthritis Research & Therapy

Increased circulatory levels of the chemokine CXCL4 have been associated with the presence of interstitial lung disease (ILD) in an observational study of patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the relationship between baseline CXCL4 level and extent of ILD in the context of a randomized controlled trial and to determine whether changes in CXCL4 levels in response to immunosuppression are associated with future progression of SSc-ILD.

Systematic autoantigen analysis identifies a distinct subtype of scleroderma with coincident cancer

Author: Robert Linda
Date Published: January-2017
Source: Johns Hopkins Rheumatology

A study by Livia Casciola-Rosen, Ph.D. and Aim Shah, M.D. from the Johns Hopkins Division of Rheumatology in collaboration with Steve J. Elledge, Ph.D. and collegues at MIT and Harvard, used cutting-edge technologies to identify a new subgroup of antibodies present in people without classical scleroderma-associated antibodies who develop cancer and scleroderma within a short period of time.

Immunosuppressive Therapy Helps Systemic Sclerosis Patients With Lung Disease

Author: Patricia Inacio
Date Published: January-2017
Source: Scleroderma News

Levels of the cytokine CXCl4 in the bloodstream drop sharply in response to immunosuppressive therapy, and are associated with improved lung function in systemic sclerosis (SSc) patients with interstitial lung disease (ILD), a study shows. The research, “Changes in plasma CXCL4 levels are associated with improvements in lung function in patients receiving immunosuppressive therapy for systemic sclerosis-related interstitial lung disease,” was published in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy.

Gene Activity Predicts Progression of Autoimmune Disease, Researchers Find

Author: Jennie Dusheck
Date Published: December-2016
Source: Stanford Medicine

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).

Stanford researchers and their collaborators have found a way to tell whether patients with systemic sclerosis were improving during drug treatment a year before a standard clinical test could. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and six other institutions have designed a new diagnostic tool for a rare and deadly autoimmune disease that affects the skin and internal organs.

News for Patients

Combo Tx Aids in Scleroderma PAH

Author: Nancy Walsh
Date Published: January-2017
Source: MedPage Today

Initial combination therapy with ambrisentan (Letairis) and tadalafil (Cialis) was more effective than monotherapy with either agent alone among patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension associated with connective tissue disease (CTD-PAH), a post-hoc subgroup analysis of the AMBITION trial found. Among patients with CTD-PAH randomized to receive both agents, the risk of having a first clinical event such as hospitalization for worsening PAH was 57% lower than in the two pooled monotherapy groups (HR 0.43, 95% CI 0.24-0.77), according to John Gerry Coghlan, MD, of the Royal Free Hospital in London, and colleagues.

Changes in plasma CXCL4 levels are associated with improvements in lung function in patients receiving immunosuppressive therapy for systemic sclerosis-related interstitial lung disease

Author: E. Volkmann, D. Tashkin, M. Roth, P. Clements, D. Khanna, D. Furst, M. Mayes, J. Charles, C. Tseng, R. Elashoff and S. Assassi
Date Published: January-2017
Source: Arthritis Research & Therapy

Increased circulatory levels of the chemokine CXCL4 have been associated with the presence of interstitial lung disease (ILD) in an observational study of patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the relationship between baseline CXCL4 level and extent of ILD in the context of a randomized controlled trial and to determine whether changes in CXCL4 levels in response to immunosuppression are associated with future progression of SSc-ILD.

Noninvasive Tests Can Help to Identify Those Most Likely, or Unlikely, to Have PH

Author: Magdalena Kegel
Date Published: January-2017
Source: Raynauds News

Noninvasive methods can help to determine which patients have a high probability of developing pulmonary hypertension (PH) and which are most unlikely to do so, researchers reported — offering clinicians further tools when examining people with suspected lung hypertension. The study, “Use of ECG and Other Simple Non-Invasive Tools to Assess Pulmonary Hypertension,” was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Immunosuppressants Only of ‘Weak’ Benefit to Diffuse Scleroderma Patients, Study Reports

Author: Magdalena Kegel
Date Published: February-2017
Source: Scleroderma News

A large study following patients in the early stages of diffuse cutaneous scleroderma showed that immunosuppressants offered only a negligible benefit for those who took them, compared to those who didn’t. Since immunosuppressants produced numerically larger reductions in skin symptoms, the findings may support patients using such drugs from the onset of their disease. But since differences between treated and untreated patients were not statistically significant, the study may also point to the need for better treatments.

Estrogen Likely Contributes to Cold-induced Raynaud’s in Women

Author: Magdalena Kegel
Date Published: February-2017
Source: Raynauds

Estrogen may contribute to the development of Raynaud’s phenomenon in women, according to a study examining the relationship between palm blood flow and the hormone in mice. The findings might explain why Raynaud’s is more common in women of childbearing age. The study noted that reduced blood flow was mediated by estrogen’s effects on cell surface receptors. The study, “G-protein coupled estrogen receptor-mediated non-genomic facilitatory effect of estrogen on cooling-induced reduction of skin blood flow in mice,” was published in the European Journal of Pharmacology.

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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