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October 27, 2001


Turner Foundation Funds Lupus Research at Emory

Through a $1 million gift from the Turner Foundation, researchers in Emory University's Division of Pediatric Rheumatology and Immunology will work to uncover new knowledge about a poorly understood autoimmune disorder and how it affects children and teens. This is a one-time grant for medical research from the Foundation.

Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disorder. The organ systems most often involved in lupus are the skin, kidneys, blood, joints and nervous system. Symptoms can range from mild to severe; the disease can have serious complications and can be fatal in some cases. The cause of lupus is unknown.

Lupus affects primarily teenage and adult women worldwide. It is more prevalent and often more severe in African-American females than white females. There are 40-50 cases per 100,000 African-Americans, as compared to 15-20 per 100,000 whites. There are an estimated 35,000 Georgians with lupus.

"Lupus is a serious and sometimes deadly challenge affecting young people and their families," said Ted Turner. "The Turner Foundation is pleased to help combat this terrible disease by making a contribution to research directed at a better understanding of the cause and treatment of this disease in children and teens."

The Turner Foundation funding, to be given over a five-year period, will support the establishment of a concerted research effort into lupus by the Division of Pediatric Rheumatology and Immunology, including the recruitment of an outstanding research scientist in the field. Both the causes of lupus and new treatments will be explored.

Dr. J. Devn Cornish, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics in the Emory University School of Medicine, noted that this important gift represents a landmark in the development of lupus and basic rheumatologic research at Emory. "These funds will both strengthen the research activities of our existing faculty and enable the recruitment of key researchers in this field. We are truly grateful to Mr. Turner and the Foundation for their foresight and generosity."

Dr. Larry Vogler, director of Emory's Division of Pediatric Rheumatology and Immunology, will head the program. "I am extremely grateful to be given this opportunity by the Turner Foundation to contribute through research to better treatments and an ultimate cure for lupus," said Dr. Vogler. There are currently only a limited number of centers in the United States conducting research in rheumatic diseases as they affect children and teens. Emory University's goal, through its Division of Pediatric Rheumatology, is to make a substantive contribution to this area of research.

The Division of Pediatric Rheumatology and Immunology is a section within the Department of Pediatrics in Emory University School of Medicine. The division is dedicated to the care of children and adolescents with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases and to research into the causes of, and better treatments for, these conditions.

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