Medical College of Wisconsin and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Investigator Receives Donation for Lupus Research

Nov. 23, 2012

Stephen Gauld, Ph.D., an infectious and immunologic disease researcher at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, received a $20,000 award from the Lupus Foundation of America, Wisconsin Chapter, during the organization’s annual Fall into Fashion Luncheon at North Hills Country Club in Menomonee Falls.

Dr. Gauld is an assistant professor of pediatrics in allergy and immunology, and microbiology and molecular genetics at MCW, and a researcher at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Research Institute.

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood and kidneys. The award from the Lupus Foundation of America, Wisconsin Chapter acknowledges Dr. Gauld’s investigations into how a population of cells called helper T cells instruct B cells to secrete autoantibodies, which are linked to autoimmune disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Financial support from the Foundation over the last several years has helped Dr. Gauld collect vital research data, which has led to funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases awarded him a $375,000 grant in 2012 to study factors involved in regulating the production of autoantibodies.

“We are grateful for the funding from the Lupus Foundation of America, Wisconsin Chapter, which has allowed us to further our studies into understanding how regulatory T cells suppress autoantibody production,” Dr. Gauld said. ”Our studies indicate that regulatory T cells are essential to suppress the expansion of cell populations that are sufficient to instruct B cells to secrete autoantibodies. We believe further understanding of this mechanism will aid in our understanding of lupus and the factors that contribute to this disease.”

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, there have been no large-scale studies to determine the actual number of people in the United Sates living with lupus. But it is estimated that approximately 1.5 million Americans have the disease.

“On behalf of the Lupus Foundation of America, Wisconsin Chapter, the Board of Directors and the 28,000 individuals living with lupus in Wisconsin, we are grateful to the researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin for their dedication to lupus,” said Dawn Thomas-Semanko, Executive Director of the Lupus Foundation of America, Wisconsin Chapter. “We understand it is a critical time to foster academic inquiry around systemic lupus erythematosus as new discoveries are on the horizon. We congratulate Dr. Gauld on receiving a distinguished NIH grant and take pride in having provided seed funding for his very important work.”

Over the past six years, the Wisconsin Chapter’s annual Fall into Fashion Luncheon has generated $130,000 for lupus research at the Medical College.

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