DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE - CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED MEDICAL RESEARCH PROGRAMS

Posted October 19, 2021

Dr. Kathryn Torok, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Jessie Barnum, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Robert Lafyatis, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Rachel Rosenstein, Hackensack University Medical Center

Dr. Kathryn Torok
Dr. Kathryn Torok
University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Jessie Barnum
Dr. Jessie Barnum,
University of Pittsburgh

In its inaugural year the Scleroderma Research Program released the Idea Development Award — New Investigator Collaboration Option (IDA–NICO) funding opportunity. The IDA–NICO supports research that has the potential to lead to high-impact discoveries that will lead to changes within the field of scleroderma while also cultivating the next generation of promising new scleroderma researchers. The IDA–NICO aims to encourage new investigators in the early stages of their careers to partner with an established scleroderma researcher to facilitate collaboration and grow the scleroderma research community. In fiscal year 2020, two IDA–NICOs were awarded. The research proposed by these investigators addresses current scientific gaps within scleroderma research.

Dr. Kathryn Torok and new investigator, Dr. Jessie Barnum, both of the University of Pittsburgh, are studying the cellular and molecular changes associated with autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) in juvenile‐onset systemic sclerosis (jSSc) patients. They aim to analyze the cellular and transcriptomic differences in the expression profile of jSSc peripheral blood mononuclear cells and skin pre‐ and post‐ASCT. Their hope is to observe molecular changes post‐ASCT that are associated with positive clinical outcomes that will potentially lead to a better understanding and treatment options for jSSc.

Dr. Robert Lafyatis
Dr. Robert Lafyatis
University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Rachel Rosenstein
Dr. Rachel Rosenstein
Hackensack University Medical Center

Dr. Robert Lafyatis of the University of Pittsburgh and new investigator Dr. Rachel Rosenstein of Hackensack University Medical Center aim to identify biomarkers that can be used to monitor disease activity in diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis (dSSc). They plan to identify the inflammatory and fibrotic signals and cell types that promote sclerotic chronic‐graft‐versus host disease (cGVHD), a disease that shares similar clinical and histopathological findings with dSSc, and compare the findings in cGVHD to dSSc. By collecting skin biopsies from patients at the onset and during progression of sclerotic disease, Drs. Lafyatis and Rosenstein intend to unravel the signaling events and immune cells associated with dSSc, which can ultimately lead to prognostic biomarkers for dSSc disease progression.

 

Links:

Abstract for Drs. Torok and Barnum
Public and Technical Abstracts: Defining the Effects of Autologous Stem Cell Transplant on the Cellular and Transcriptomic Landscape of Juvenile Systemic Sclerosis

Abstract for Drs. Lafyatis and Rosenstein
Public and Technical Abstracts: Biomarkers and Pathogenesis of Cutaneous Fibrosis

Last updated Tuesday, January 4, 2022