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Department of Defense Renews Commitment to Scleroderma Research


Funds Three Key Scleroderma Research Projects

DANVERS, Mass., Feb. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Defense announced that it will fund three important scleroderma research projects as part of its Fiscal Year 2011 Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program. The following investigators have been awarded grant funding:

  • Sandeep Agarwal, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine, Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.
  • Robert Lafyatis, M.D., professor of medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston. Dr. Lafyatis is a member of the Scleroderma Foundation's Echo Campaign Steering Committee. He was awarded Doctor of the Year by the Foundation in 2009.
  • John Varga, M.D., director, Scleroderma Program, and the John and Nancy Hughes Professor in the Division of Rheumatology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago. Dr. Varga is chair of the Scleroderma Foundation's National Medical Advisory Board, and received the organization's Doctor of the Year Award in 2006.

"This research is a hopeful sign that we are closer to finding the cure for scleroderma and other autoimmune diseases," said Joseph P. Camerino, Ph.D., chair of the Foundation's National Board of Directors. "These research grants represent a dramatic increase in the government's support of scleroderma research and will provide much needed resources to scleroderma researchers, and additional hope for the hundreds of thousands of scleroderma patients in the U.S. The Scleroderma Foundation is proud to have such a close relationship with these talented investigators. Our hope is that this research will bring us one step closer to making a significant impact in the lives of people living with scleroderma."

The Department of Defense will update its website with specific funding amounts, research topics and abstracts in the near future.

Since 1999, the Department of Defense's Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program has supported research in a broad range of scientific areas. The program is committed to identify and fund the best medical research that will influence or change the diagnosis and treatment for a wide-range of diseases. Last year, three scleroderma researchers were awarded more than $2.5 million for their studies about the rare disease.

Research remains a top priority of the Scleroderma Foundation. The organization's Board of Directors recently unanimously voted to increase research grant funding for 2012.

The Foundation also works hard in Washington D.C. to promote the "Scleroderma Research and Awareness Act." The bipartisan legislation would increase the amount of funding for scleroderma research and awareness. H.R. 1672 was introduced in the House by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) and Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE); and S. 649, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

About Scleroderma
Scleroderma is a chronic, often progressive, autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks its own body.

Scleroderma means "hard skin." It can cause a thickening and tightening of the skin. In some cases, it causes serious damage to internal organs including the lungs, heart, kidneys, esophagus and gastrointestinal tract. As scarring, or sclerosis, of these organs and organ systems progress, they work less effectively, and can lead to organ failure and death.

Some medications and treatments can help with certain symptoms, but there is no cure for scleroderma. The disease affects about 300,000 people across the U.S. In comparison, the same number of people are affected by multiple sclerosis.

About the Scleroderma Foundation
The Scleroderma Foundation is the national organization for people with scleroderma, their families and friends. It was formed Jan. 1, 1998, by a merger between the United Scleroderma Foundation and the Scleroderma Federation.

Today, the Scleroderma Foundation is headquartered in Danvers, Mass. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to serving the interests of people living with scleroderma. The Foundation has a network of 23 chapters and 168 support groups committed to carrying out the three-fold mission of support, education and research. The Scleroderma Foundation budgets $1 million per year in new grants to find the cause and cure for scleroderma.

For more information about the Scleroderma Foundation, visit or call (800) 722-HOPE (4673). You also can find the Foundation on Facebook ( and Twitter (@scleroderma).

SOURCE Scleroderma Foundation

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