The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) has awarded Baylor Research Institute a grant intended to fund the Autoimmunity Center of Excellence, led by Virginia Pascual, MD.  Pascual is also a director at Baylor Institute for Immunology Research (BIIR).

Baylor Scott & White Health report in a recent news release that the Autoimmunity Center of Excellence was established at BIIR in 2009, following a $3.5 million grant awarded to Pascual by NIAMS. The current $3.3 million grant is intended as a renewal of the prior grant in 2009 and will build on the center’s successes throughout the past 5 years.

Pascual states that with the extremely competitive nature of the grant, “we are fortunate that our proposal was renewed. The goals of the center include understanding the mechanisms that lead to autoimmunity and developing tools to monitor these dysfunctional pathways in patients.”

Michael Ramsay, MD, president, Baylor Research Institute, explains that Pascual’s research places an emphasis on autoimmune diseases such as juvenile arthritis, lupus, and dermatomyositis.

Additionally, “Her work on juvenile arthritis led to a successful treatment for children who did not respond to other therapies,” Ramsay says.

Ramsay adds that Pascual’s group accomplished this by identifying an immune system protein, interleukin 1, which is over-produced in these children, and found that a treatment that was already on the market could block the effects of this protein.

Source: Baylor Scott & White Health