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

 
E-mail Print PDF
 

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.

» Click here for details