Le Lézard
Classified in: Health
Subjects: AWD, TRI

Summer Fellowship Grants Support Young Scientists' Innovative Lupus Research Studies

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the Lupus Foundation of America announced six recipients of the 2020 Gina M. Finzi Memorial Student Summer Fellowship Program. This grant and mentorship program plays a critical role in cultivating an interest in lupus research among young scientists and establishing the next generation of lupus researchers.

"The Finzi Fellowship fills an important gap in lupus research funding by supporting the lupus researchers of the future," shared Trine N. Jorgensen, PhD, and 2020 Finzi Fellow Mentor. "Fostering an interest in lupus research early on in an aspiring scientists' career is extremely important, and the Finzi Fellowship Program offers a unique opportunity for these students to pursue lupus research and encourages them to stay in the field."

Throughout the program, the 2020 Finzi awardees are mentored by an experienced lupus investigator, a critical component ensuring that the young scientists receive support and guidance as they establish themselves in lupus research.

The Gina M. Finzi Memorial Student Summer Fellowship Program has supported the work of nearly 200 young scientists in North America with past recipients becoming distinguished lupus scientists and leading the way on innovative research in the field. The Finzi program, established in 1984, was created to honor Gina M. Finzi, the late daughter of former Lupus Foundation of America President Sergio Finzi, PhD.

"Supporting young scientists is critical to growing the lupus research field with the best and the brightest minds. We have seen many scientists that received their first funding through the Gina M. Finzi Memorial Student Summer Fellowship Program make incredible contributions to the lupus research field and make it their lifelong mission to help end lupus," said Stevan W. Gibson, president and CEO, Lupus Foundation of America.

The research by the awardees will contribute to various areas of lupus research ranging from new therapies, disease management and furthering the understanding of lupus. This year's fellows are:

Zarina Brune 
Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research
Project Title: A novel role for IRF5 in CD4+ T cell metabolism drives autoimmunity
Mentor: Betsy Barnes, PhD Investigator Head, Laboratory of Autoimmune and Cancer Research Professor, Departments of Molecular Medicine and Pediatrics

Meera Dhodapkar 
Yale School of Medicine
Project title: Reactivity of VH4-34 IgG Autoantibodies to Commensal Bacteria in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Mentor: Eric Meffre, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Immunology and Medicine

Sayra J. Garcia 
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Project title: Investigating the Role of Lipocalin-2 in Neuropsychiatric SLE
Mentor: Chaim Putterman, MD, MBA, Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Microbiology & Immunology

Jennifer He 
University Health Network
Project title: Improving the assessment of cognitive function in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: Insight into intraindividual variability across neuropsychological tests and its association with cognitive impairment
Mentor: Zahi Touma, MD, PhD, FACP, FACR Clinician-Scientist and Staff Physician, University Health Network

Jessica Jones 
Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute
Project title: Investigation of the differentiation of male and female derived stem cells to pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cells in a chimeric lupus mouse model
Mentor: Trine N. Jorgensen Dept. of Inflammation & Immunity, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation Associate, Director of Research, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at CWRU

Olivia Solomon 
University of California, Berkeley
Project title: Genetic ancestry impacts on differential outcomes of systemic lupus erythematosus
Mentor: Lindsey A. Criswell, MD, MPH, DSc Professor of Medicine and Orofacial Sciences Chief, Division of Rheumatology Jean S. Engleman Distinguished Professor in Rheumatology

To learn more about the 2020 Gina M. Finzi Memorial Student Summer Fellowship award recipients, click here.

About Lupus
Lupus is an unpredictable and misunderstood autoimmune disease that ravages different parts of the body.  It is difficult to diagnose, hard to live with and a challenge to treat. Lupus is a cruel mystery because it is hidden from view and undefined, has a range of symptoms, strikes without warning, and has no known cause and no known cure. Its health effects can range from a skin rash to a heart attack. Lupus is debilitating and destructive and can be fatal, yet research on lupus remains underfunded relative to diseases of similar scope and devastation.

About the Lupus Foundation of America
The Lupus Foundation of America is the national force devoted to solving the mystery of lupus, one of the world's cruelest, most unpredictable and devastating diseases, while giving caring support to those who suffer from its brutal impact. Through a comprehensive program of research, education, and advocacy, we lead the fight to improve the quality of life for all people affected by lupus. Learn more about the Lupus Foundation of America at lupus.org.

Mike Donnelly
(202) 349-1162

SOURCE Lupus Foundation of America

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