SPARC Consortium Supports Research In Scleroderma

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by Isaura Santos |

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The Strategic Pharma-Academic Research Consortium for Translational Medicine has announced it is providing new grants that will support research into autoimmune diseases worth $1.9 million in total. The consortium is led by the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute and is offering financial support for research projects involving scleroderma, dermatomyositis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease. Other research areas will be considered for future grants.

SPARC’s members include 4 institutions that are supported by the National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Science Awards: Indiana CTSI (which includes Purdue University, Indiana University and the University of Notre Dame) and The Ohio State University, Northwestern University and Washington University in St. Louis. The awards come from financial support provided by industry partners Eli Lilly and Co. and Takeda Pharmaceuticals International Inc.

Anantha Shekhar, who is the director of the Indiana CTSI, associate vice president for university clinical affairs at IU and associate dean for translational research at the IU School of Medicine said in a press release: “There’s a true wealth of expertise on autoimmune disorders across our membership, but there really was not a large-scale group in the region focused on the topic until the creation of this consortium. We’re eager to help these scientists advance their critical work on these diseases — many of which are poorly understood despite their impact on millions in the U.S. and worldwide — and hope they may quickly translate into meaningful advances in treatment and therapy.”

An independent council selected the research team, which will be granted with up to $400,000 to further their research projects. Award recipients include John Varga from the Rheumatology at Northwestern University working in scleroderma; Anthony R. French from the Washington University in St. Louis working on juvenile dermatomyositis; Gwendalyn Randolph from the Washington University in St. Louis studying intestinal fibrosis; Brad H. Rovin from The Ohio State University assessing lupus and Yanjiao Zhou from the Washington University in St. Louis studying multiple sclerosis.

Translational medicine involves turning medical research into innovative and safe treatments and therapies. The Strategic Pharma-Academic Research Consortium for Translational Medicine is focused on boosting translational medicine projects that need both multi-expert and multi-instructional collaborations. SPARC was created thanks to support by Biocrossroads, an organization based in Indianapolis committed to advance life sciences.