Our Lupus Research Contributions and Achievements

The Foundation’s efforts have stimulated advances in lupus research that have provided insight into the underlying causes of lupus and its progression, and created unprecedented opportunities to expand the future knowledge base for the disease.  Data generated by the Foundation’s early research investments have provided important pathways toward identifying people at highest risk for lupus and stopping the disease before it starts.

Over the past four decades, the Foundation has supported more than 400 lupus research studies conducted at more than 100 medical institutions throughout the United States.  Investigators who have received funding from the Foundation have made contributions toward achieving many of the most important advances in research on lupus.  These studies have:

  • Supported development of one of the first diagnostic tests specifically for lupus.
  • Led to discoveries of specific risk factors for cardiovascular disease in African American women with lupus.
  • Allowed for in-depth research of blood that can limit the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with lupus.
  • Led to one of the first research studies on cognitive issues in diverse populations with lupus, which raised awareness of cognitive dysfunction and its relationship to employment and disability.
  • Led to discoveries of potential biomarkers to help identify people at higher risk for developing lupus kidney disease.

We take pride in the following additional achievements:

Scientific Initiatives

  • New roadmap for removing barriers to drug development
    We commissioned the seminal independent national report by one of the nation’s most respected health policy organizations entitled, “Overcoming the Barriers to Drug Development in Lupus.”  The report serves as a roadmap for industry, the Foundation’s national research program, and the federal government toward removing obstacles to the development of new lupus treatments.
  • Improving clinical trial design with industry to drive new therapies
    We marshaled the resources of seven major biopharmaceutical companies to unlock clues hidden in data from early trials of potential lupus treatments, which will improve future trials and stimulate development of new treatments.  Some of the field’s most influential thought leaders have called this accomplishment a "major breakthrough."
  • Global standardized lupus disease instrument training
    We created a worldwide portal now used by thousands of clinical investigators in more countries around the world for training on instruments to assess uniformly the effectiveness of experimental lupus therapies in global pharmaceutical trials, greatly increasing the probability of the successful development of new treatments for lupus.
  • New focus on the environmental causes of lupus
    We convened the best and brightest lupus investigators for a national summit on lupus and the environment to examine the role environmental influences play in the development of lupus and to establish a research agenda to guide future studies in this important area.

Funding to Lupus Researchers

  • First diagnostic test for lupus
    Today, physicians can make an earlier, more accurate diagnosis of lupus with the first-ever diagnostic test for the disease. Foundation-funded research on biomarkers combined with more than $1 million from the Department of Defense Medical Research Program led to the development and commercialization of the test.
  • Improved disease understanding for expanded treatment options
    Our funding helped confirm a specific gene that appears to be a crucial factor in the development of lupus among multiple racial groups.  This finding further supports the insight needed to develop new and more targeted therapeutics, which will greatly improve treatment of lupus in the future.

    Our cardiovascular disease research initiative has helped explain why people with lupus develop heart disease at a much earlier age than people in the general population.
  • Urgently needed research effort dedicated to children with lupus
    We established the first-ever dedicated pediatric lupus research initiative, which has led to the creation of urgently needed treatment plans for children with lupus, especially those with kidney disease.

Rallying Support to Expand Public and Private Investment in Lupus

  • New federal support for lupus research
    As a result of the Foundation’s advocacy, the Department of Defense Medical Research Program now includes lupus as a focus area. The Agency has allocated$18 million in new funding for research.
  • Federal Congressional Lupus Caucus to advance science and medicine of lupus
    Working with our lupus champions in Congress, we helped to establish the first-ever Congressional Lupus Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives to ensure that Members of Congress are aware of the urgent needs of people affected by lupus, and the scientific community that is working to advance the science and medicine of lupus.
  • Major federal funding for national patient registry
    Through our public policy initiatives, we successfully advocated Congress to secure more than $44 million for the National Lupus Patient Registry at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine the true prevalence and incidence of lupus among all populations at risk for the disease, and to measure the burden of disease on individuals, families and society.
  • Public awareness campaign to improve early diagnosis
    We helped to secure more than $3 million in Congressional appropriations for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health (OWH) to conduct the first-ever Ad Council public awareness campaign on lupus to greatly increase understanding of lupus symptoms and to increase early diagnosis and treatment of lupus.  The Foundation served as the Founding Partner with OWH on the campaign, which has generated more than $80 million in earned and donated media placements.
  • Federal Working Group to coordinate lupus activity among all federal agencies
    We secured Congressional support to establish the Federal Working Group on Lupus at the National Institutes of Health to exchange information and better coordinate the activities of all federal agencies with an interest in lupus.