A generous donation from Lupus Victoria will fund a Monash University PhD scholarship, enabling vital research into lupus.
Lupus Victoria, a charity supporting research into systemic lupus erythematosus, or lupus, has donated $26,000 to the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS), directly supporting the Kim Jolly Lupus Research Fund Scholarship.
PhD student and Monash Health Rheumatology Fellow Dr Champa Nataraja is the first recipient of the scholarship—her research aiming to improve outcomes for patients with lupus.
“Lupus is a chronic, multi-system autoimmune disease affecting at least 5 million people worldwide, with the majority being women of childbearing age,” Dr Nataraja said.
“Over 70 per cent of patients with lupus are typically treated with glucocorticoids (GC) due to their broad anti-inflammatory effect, however, despite their effectiveness, the use of these drugs is accompanied by a litany of serious adverse effects that contribute to increased morbidity and mortality.”
Dr Nataraja said there is a critical need for alternative therapies to GC that have similar anti-inflammatory effects but without the negative metabolic side-effects.
Under the supervision of Dr Sarah Jones and Professor Eric Morand from the Lupus and Arthritis Research Group, Dr Nataraja is investigating glucocorticoid-induced leucine zipper (GILZ), a protein induced by GC that may lead to an alternative therapy.
“My PhD will validate GILZ as a therapeutic target in lupus, potentially leading to improved therapies and outcomes for patients,” Dr Nataraja said.
“I feel honoured and privileged to be the first recipient of The Kim Jolly Lupus Research Fund Scholarship and am grateful this scholarship facilitates me to continue with this vital research project.”
Head of the Lupus and Arthritis Research Group Professor Morand said he is honoured to have the continuing relationship with patients and families affected by lupus, who make up Lupus Victoria, and who share our belief that research is the way we will solve this disease.
“Lupus Victoria were supporters of our work from the start and our growth now to national and international prominence in this field would not have happened without their support at the beginning,” Professor Morand said.