December 04, 2018
Since its founding more than 35 years ago, the Spondylitis Association of America (SAA) has been at the forefront of funding research for a cure for spondyloarthritis (SpA). Embracing its mission to be the leading national nonprofit in the fight for a cure and to advocate on behalf of all people impacted by the chronic illness, SAA continues to identify and support ground-breaking research projects through its SAA/Bruckel Early Career Investigator Award in AxSpA (ECI) and additional grants for exploratory research. The ECI award, which began in 2011, is instrumental in recognizing researchers for their outstanding contributions to the care and understanding of patients living with spondyloarthritis.
At the recent American College of Rheumatology Conference in Chicago, Dr. Runsheng Wang, MD, MHS, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, was recognized as the Fall 2018 recipient of the SAA/Bruckel Early Career Investigator Award in AxSpA. Dr. Wang’s clinical and research interests include comparative effectiveness research in AxSpA to identify the most effective therapeutic agents for symptomatic control in individual patients with AxSpA and investigating the most effective treatment strategy to prevent structural damage. She joins Dr. Maureen Dubreuil and Dr. Kristine Kuhn, PhD who were both named as ECI recipients in Spring 2018 and awarded a $20,000 grant each to continue their research efforts. Dr. Dubreuil’s research examines the complications of spondyloarthritis and the side effects of treatment. Dr. Kuhn’s clinical and research interests are related to spondyloarthritis with a special emphasis for those with overlapping Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD).
To date, SAA has invested nearly $1 million to support promising and innovative spondyloarthritis research and remains committed to supporting additional research projects for the foreseeable future including exploratory and stop-gap research grants. Recipients of such funding include Dr. Lianne Gensler, Dr. Joel Taurog, and Drs. Mark Asquith and James Rosenbaum. These research projects include: evaluating children at increased risk of developing spondyloarthritis based upon a family history of AS and positive HLA-B27 marker; examining the various alleles of HLA-B27 to potentially provide new information that could help explain why some HLA-B27 is associated with AS while some HLA-B27 is not; and exploring the potential role for fungus or yeast in the pathogenesis of spondyloarthritis.
“One in every 100 people in the U.S. has spondyloarthritis,” says SAA CEO Cassie Shafer. “We are encouraged by the many strides that have been made in the areas of diagnosis and treatment, but there is not a cure – yet. Awards and grants funded by SAA provide tremendous opportunities to encourage upcoming rheumatologists and researchers to focus on the future of treatment options and an eventual cure for spondyloarthritis,” adds Shafer.
To learn more about SAA's commitment to research, visit its .
About the Spondylitis Association of America
SAA is the leading national nonprofit that provides educational resources, connections, and the critical emotional support that people living with spondyloarthritis need. SAA is committed to increasing awareness of spondyloarthritis, providing information and support to patients and their families, and funding research to ultimately uncover a cure for the disease.
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