Amy Hewitt

My Story

Follow this link to share YOUR story on our Facebook page. In the meantime, please allow me to share mine:

More than a decade ago, while a senior executive in the hospitality industry, I was moved by a friend and colleague who was a scleroderma patient. As a result of her illness, I began volunteering for the Foundation. Through years of pitching in, I became personally inspired at a level I had not anticipated. By 2007, after meeting another courageous patient, this time a young lady named Marina at a fundraising event, I realized that I could do more to help.

It was just a short time later, I expressed interest in an availability at the Foundation, packed up and moved to San Francisco, eager to apply my professional skills in support of scleroderma research. After witnessing firsthand the benefit research progress meant to my friend and her loved ones, I clearly understood the Foundation's credo of the best way to help patients being to fund the most promising research aimed at improved treatments and a cure. Research progress means my friend can, for now, experience the joy of watching her children grow. The match for me and the Foundation seemed ideal. Now here I am, three years later. . . 

Transitioning from the hospitality industry where creativity, collaboration and team work are a requirement for success, the shift to an organization where one of the leading principles, "collaboration is essential," made sense. No one person is going to come up with the solution for this complex disease. Progress is a result of working together. Given the Foundation's longstanding and successful collaborative approach to research, the SRF staff and I apply this principle to the arenas of fundraising and awareness building where collective efforts can have even greater impact.

It has been a fantastic journey so far and, with each day comes new inspiration. I look forward to sharing more of what we have achieved together. And, I encourage you to share your story. Tell us about what brought you to the Foundation or why scleroderma research is important to you... Inspire others to do the same!

We are deeply appreciative that you stand beside us in this fight. Share your story with others and, together, we'll provide inspiration that leads to increased awareness for scleroderma and more funds available for vital, lifesaving research.

Happy New Year!

Amy Hewitt
Executive Director

 
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Research News

SRF-funded Harvard Researchers Explore Cellular Self-destruction as Scleroderma Treatment

Author: Magdalena Kegel
Date Published: January-2018
Source: Scleroderma News

Organ fibrosis in scleroderma patients might be reversed with treatments that allow fibrotic cells to self-destruct, Harvard scientists suggest.

Their study, funded by the SRF, “Targeted apoptosis of myofibroblasts with the BH3 mimetic ABT-263 reverses established fibrosis,” appeared in the journal Science Translational Medicine. It demonstrated that the survival–self-destruction balance of fibrosis-producing myofibroblast cells can be tipped by using a compound now being explored as a cancer treatment.

Getting Started on Methotrexate: What You Should Know

Author: Johns Hopkins
Date Published: January-2018
Source: Johns Hopkins Rheumatology

Methotrexate is a medication commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and many other autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. Nurse Victoria Ruffing talks about what you should know when getting started on Methotrexate, as well as the side effects of Methotrexate.

Pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis: recent insights of molecular and cellular mechanisms and therapeutic opportunities

Author: John Varga, Maria Trojanowska, Masataka Kuwana
Date Published: July-2017
Source: Journal of Scleroderma and Related Disorders

Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a complex disease characterized by early microvascular abnormalities, immune dysregulation and chronic inflammation, and subsequent fibrosis of the skin and internal organs. Excessive fibrosis, distinguishing hallmark of SSc, is the end result of a complex series of interlinked vascular injury and immune activation, and represents a maladaptive repair process. Activated vascular, epithelial, and immune cells generate pro-fibrotic cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, lipid mediators, autoantibodies, and reactive oxygen species. These paracrine and autocrine cues in turn induce activation, differentiation, and survival of mesenchymal cells, ensuing tissue fibrosis through increased collagen synthesis, matrix deposition, tissue rigidity and remodeling, and vascular rarefaction.

The mighty fibroblast and its utility in scleroderma research

Author: Sara M. Garrett, DeAnna Baker Frost, Carol Feghali-Bostwick
Date Published: May-2017
Source: Journal of Scleroderma and Related Disorders

Fibroblasts are the effector cells of fibrosis characteristic of systemic sclerosis (SSc, scleroderma) and other fibrosing conditions. The excess production of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins is the hallmark of fibrosis in different organs, such as skin and lung. Experiments designed to assess the pro-fibrotic capacity of factors, their signaling pathways, and potential inhibitors of their effects that are conducted in fibroblasts have paved the way for planning clinical trials in SSc. As such, fibroblasts have proven to be valuable tools in the search for effective anti-fibrotic therapies for fibrosis. Herein we highlight the characteristics of fibroblasts, their role in the etiology of fibrosis, utility in experimental assays, and contribution to drug development and clinical trials in SSc.This article is available for you to download for free for 1 week until 2nd August 2017.

Systemic Sclerosis Linked With Altered Gut Microbiome

Author: Gregory M. Weiss, MD
Date Published: July-2017
Source: Rheumatology Network

The numbers of Bacteroidetes bacteria in the GI tracts of 2 separate cohorts of patients with systemic sclerosis were significantly reduced when compared with healthy controls. American patients with systemic sclerosis had more extensive alterations in their intestinal microbiota than those in a Norwegian cohort. An abundance of Prevotella species was associated with moderate-to-severe GI symptoms in patients with systemic sclerosis. Clostridium species abundance was associated with low GI symptom severity, and Lactobacillus with none-to-mild constipation.

News for Patients

SRF-funded Harvard Researchers Explore Cellular Self-destruction as Scleroderma Treatment

Author: Magdalena Kegel
Date Published: January-2018
Source: Scleroderma News

Organ fibrosis in scleroderma patients might be reversed with treatments that allow fibrotic cells to self-destruct, Harvard scientists suggest.

Their study, funded by the SRF, “Targeted apoptosis of myofibroblasts with the BH3 mimetic ABT-263 reverses established fibrosis,” appeared in the journal Science Translational Medicine. It demonstrated that the survival–self-destruction balance of fibrosis-producing myofibroblast cells can be tipped by using a compound now being explored as a cancer treatment.

Getting Started on Methotrexate: What You Should Know

Author: Johns Hopkins
Date Published: January-2018
Source: Johns Hopkins Rheumatology

Methotrexate is a medication commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and many other autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. Nurse Victoria Ruffing talks about what you should know when getting started on Methotrexate, as well as the side effects of Methotrexate.

Raynaud’s Phenomenon : What You Should Know

Author: Johns Hopkins
Date Published: January-2018
Source: Johns Hopkins Rheumatology

Raynaud’s Phenomenon is a condition that results in decreased blood flow to your fingers and toes. There are two types of Raynaud’s: primary and secondary. SRF-funded investigator, Dr. Zsuzsanna McMahan from the Johns Hopkins Scleroderma Center dives into what this condition is, things to look out for, how to manage it, and when you should speak with a doctor.

Uptravi Slows Progression of Pulmonary Hypertension Stemming from Connective Tissue Disease, Study Finds

Author: Iqra Mumal
Date Published: August-2017
Source: Pulmonary Hypertension News

Actelion’s Uptravi (selexipag) delays the progression of pulmonary arterial hypertension that stems from connective tissue disease, a follow-up analysis of Phase 3 clinical trial findings indicates. People with PAH-CTD also tolerate the therapy well, according to the study. The PAH part of PAH-CTD refers to high blood pressure in the lungs’ arteries.

Prucalopride Can Help Improve Gastrointestinal Symptoms in SSc Patients, Study Shows

Author: Alice Melao
Date Published: August-2017
Source: Scleroderma News

Prucalopride, marketed under the name Resolor in Europe and Resotran in Canada, can safely manage mild to severe gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms associated with systemic sclerosis (SSc), including bowel movement and transit, reflux disease, and bloating, finds a study published in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy. Doctors have proposed using medicines to improve prokinetics, or motility of the GI tract, in treating SSc patients. But the lack of proper clinical trials demonstrating the therapeutic potential of such drugs in the SSc population discouraged their use in clinics.

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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