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

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.

Biomarkers Predict Digital Vascular Events in Scleroderma

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

The likelihood of digital vascular pits, ulcers, or gangrene is increased in patients with scleroderma who are double-positive for anti-interferon-inducible protein 16 and anticentromere autoantibodies. Particularly high anti-interferon-inducible protein 16 levels were found in patients with scleroderma who had active ischemic ulcers or gangrene. Measuring anti-interferon-inducible protein 16 levels in patients with scleroderma and anticentromere antibody positivity may help stratify those at high risk for significant digital vascular events.

Mortality risk prediction in scleroderma-related interstitial lung disease: the SADL model

Author: Julie Morisset, MD; Eric Vittinghoff, PhD; Brett M. Elicker, MD; Xiaowen Hu, MD; Stephanie Le, MD; Jay H. Ryu, MD; Kirk D. Jones, MD; Anna Haemel, MD; Jeffrey A. Golden, MD; Francesco Boin, MD; Brett Ley, MD; Paul J. Wolters, MD; Talmadge E. King, Jr., MD; Harold R. Collard, MD FCCP; Joyce S. Lee, MD
Date Published: June-2017
Source: Chest Journal

Rationale Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in scleroderma (Scl). Risk prediction and prognostication in Scl-ILD patients is challenging because of heterogeneity in the disease course.

News for Patients

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.

Biomarkers Predict Digital Vascular Events in Scleroderma

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

The likelihood of digital vascular pits, ulcers, or gangrene is increased in patients with scleroderma who are double-positive for anti-interferon-inducible protein 16 and anticentromere autoantibodies. Particularly high anti-interferon-inducible protein 16 levels were found in patients with scleroderma who had active ischemic ulcers or gangrene. Measuring anti-interferon-inducible protein 16 levels in patients with scleroderma and anticentromere antibody positivity may help stratify those at high risk for significant digital vascular events.

10 Tips for a Healthy Recovery Following a Lung Transplant

Author: Wendy Henderson
Date Published: June-2017
Source: Scleroderma News

For some chronic lung disease patients, their lung function declines so much that they need to have a lung transplant. However, it’s a complicated procedure and recovery can be slow. To ensure you have the healthiest recovery possible, you’ll need to adhere to a few basic rules, according to the Cleveland Clinic and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. MORE: As the weather turns warmer, many of us will be thinking about vacations and traveling. Here’s some advice for traveling with a lung disease.

Highland Park writer casts light on scleroderma

Author: Karen Berkowitz
Date Published: June-2017
Source: Chicago Tribune

Lisa Goodman-Helfand believes her childhood would have been less emotionally painful had she been told the gravity of her scleroderma diagnosis from the start. When she was 10, a series of tests at a Chicago pediatric hospital confirmed what a dermatologist had suspected. She had scleroderma, a potentially fatal disease of the autoimmune system characterized by a thickening and hardening of the skin.

Galectin’s Candidate Therapy GR-MD-02 Patent Extended to Cover Several Illnesses Including Systemic Sclerosis

Author: Alica Melao
Date Published: June-2017
Source: Scleroderma News

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted Galectin Therapeutics a new patent that extends coverage of its candidate therapy GR-MD-02 to treat systemic sclerosis and other diseases in which high levels of the inducible nitric oxide synthase (or iNOS) enzyme causes inflammation. “With this patent extending claims to a wide-range of diseases with an inflammatory response, we now have a broad range of patent coverage both for diseases in which we currently have developmental programs, as well as, potential areas of future investigation,” Dr. Peter G. Traber, Galectin’s CEO and chief medical officer, said in a company press release.

Ways to Give

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