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Hospital for Special Surgery Research Institute Awarded Two New Grants to Study Potential Causes of Lupus Flares

Dual research projects will focus on the molecular response to photosensitivity in the skin of patients with lupus to determine a treatment pathway

A research team led by Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) Research Institute, in collaboration with Weill Cornell Medicine, has been awarded two grants, one from the Department of Defense and one from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to conduct groundbreaking research regarding lupus flares. Sun exposure can trigger skin lesions and worsening of kidneys or other internal organs affected by lupus, but how inflammation at the skin leads to internal organ effects is unknown. The hope is that this study will identify the molecular pathways that drive photosensitivity and lupus flares to determine better treatment options for this confounding and mysterious disease.

The Department of Defense has granted a three-year grant to study the proteins emitted from the skin that affect lymph nodes, the downstream immune tissues, while a two-year grant from the NIH will aid the investigation into non-protein molecules and changes of fibroblasts in lymph nodes. The team will do this by examining skin components including interstitial fluid.

“My lab is focused on understanding the pathogenesis of lupus. Lupus skin rashes affect the quality of life of patients and can be connected to systemic disease that can be life-threatening. Therapeutic options in lupus are limited, and it is important that we understand pathologic mechanisms so that we can develop better therapeutic options,” said lead investigator Theresa T. Lu, MD, PhD, from HSS Research Institute.

The grants and research will be executed at HSS Research Institute, the largest musculoskeletal research facility in the world.

About HSS Research Institute

HSS Research Institute is the largest musculoskeletal research facility in the world. With over 300 dedicated researchers and 20 laboratories, HSS Research Institute has been a leader in research aimed at improving the lives of patients suffering from debilitating orthopedic and rheumatic conditions such as arthritis, bone and soft tissue injuries, autoimmune diseases, and musculoskeletal pain and deformities.

About HSS

HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the 14th consecutive year), No. 2 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2023-2024), and the best pediatric orthopedic hospital in NY, NJ and CT by U.S. News & World Report “Best Children’s Hospitals” list (2023-2024). In a survey of medical professionals in more than 20 countries by Newsweek, HSS is ranked world #1 in orthopedics for a fourth consecutive year (2023). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has the lowest readmission rates in the nation for orthopedics, and among the lowest infection and complication rates. HSS was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center five consecutive times. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State, as well as in Florida. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. In addition, more than 200 HSS clinical investigators are working to improve patient outcomes through better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat orthopedic, rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. The HSS Innovation Institute works to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices. The HSS Education Institute is a trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal knowledge and research for physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, academic trainees, and consumers in more than 165 countries. The institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally.