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$7.5 Million Establishes Scleroderma Research Center
Grant is one of four from NIH to establish Centers of Research Translation
The University of Texas Medical School at Houston has been awarded a $7.5 million, five-year grant to establish one of the nation's first Centers of Research Translation (CORT) to expand its scleroderma research.
The CORT grant - one of just four awarded Nov. 8 - is funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). CORTs are designed to bring together basic and clinical research in a way that helps translate basic discoveries into new drugs, treatments and diagnostics.
With CORT funding, Frank C. Arnett, M.D., professor of internal medicine in the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunogenetics and holder of the Elizabeth Bidgood Chair in Rheumatology, will direct the Center for Research Translation in Scleroderma.
Scleroderma is a chronic, often progressive, autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks its own body. The disease can cause thickening and tightening of the skin and, in some cases, causes serious damage to internal organs. It affects about 300,000 nationwide, mostly women ages 25-55.
"This Center of Research Translation will investigate patients and two animal models with scleroderma to identify new genes and pathways that cause this devastating disease," said Arnett, who also is principal investigator and director of the UT Health Science Center at Houston's newly established Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences. "These genetic pathways then become potential targets for new treatments for patients with scleroderma. Increasing our knowledge about mechanisms in scleroderma greatly speeds our abilities to develop new strategies for treatment."
The Center for Research Translation in Scleroderma is an expansion of the former Specialized Center of Research in Scleroderma, which was established at the UT Medical School in 1997 under Arnett's leadership. Since then, UT rheumatologists have published more than 50 papers focusing on research discoveries in scleroderma.
John D. Reveille, M.D., professor and director of the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunogenetics, noted that the Medical School's center will be the only CORT in the country to focus on scleroderma. "This will provide the means for our division to carry the research of scleroderma forward in the United States," Reveille said. "We are very proud to be able to do that."
The three other institutions to receive CORT funding this year are the University of Rochester, N.Y.; Baylor Research Institute in Dallas; and Yale University in New Haven, Conn. Their centers will emphasis research in orthopedic trauma care, lupus and x-linked hypophosphatemic rickets, respectively.
By Meredith Raine, Institutional Advancement