June 22, 2009

Lupus Foundation of America Urges Department of Defense (DoD) to Expand Medical Research on Lupus

Foundation’s CEO Testifies Before Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee

Last Friday, Sandra C. Raymond, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Lupus Foundation of America, appeared before the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to testify about lupus, the prototypical autoimmune disease that principally affects young women in their child-bearing years. Ms. Raymond also described the impact of the disease on men and young children and the disproportionate impact of the disease on African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and American Indians. She pointed out that this health disparity remains unexplained. Of the 17 national institutions and organizations that testified at the hearing, the Lupus Foundation of America was one of only five major disease-specific health organizations to present testimony.

In her remarks, Ms. Raymond reported on the genes linked to lupus and how they are triggered by environmental, hormonal and stress factors which, in the American service men and women may be exacerbated by intense training, foreign deployment, exposure to chemical agents, battle and more. Raymond thanked the Committee for including lupus in the Congressionally-directed Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program and asked that the disease remain in the program.

During her appearance, she pointed out that lupus is a significant health issue of concern in the military and in the population at large. She said that the disease is largely undiagnosed and that there was an urgent and unmet need to validate biological markers that can detect lupus in the early stages of the disease. She asked the Committee to consider providing a special focus on research to validate lupus biomarkers which could lead to a screening test for lupus.

Since 2005, the Department of Defense (DoD) has provided more than $7.1 million in new funding to support important studies on lupus and lupus biomarkers through the Congressionally-directed Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program. Four of the six DoD grants awarded to date have specifically focused on lupus biomarkers studies.

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