On Friday, July 18, members of the University of Oklahoma’s Phi Delta Alpha sorority presented the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation with a check to support lupus research at OMRF. Dr. John Harley, head of OMRFs arthritis and immunology research program, accepted the donation on behalf of the foundation.
“Our sorority’s main focus is philanthropy,” said Kim Nguyen, who co-founded Phi Delta Alpha in 2002. “As the first Asian sorority in Oklahoma, we thought that lupus research at OMRF was a perfect fit, because many minorities suffer from lupus and OMRF has an internationally recognized lupus program.”
Sorority members held a variety of fundraising events, including a competition for dates with a pair of OU football players. They also set up informational booths around the OU campus designed to teach their fellow students about the disease.
“By raising funds and educating people about lupus, the members of Phi Delta Alpha are helping fight the battle against lupus,” Harley said. “We are extremely grateful for their efforts and support.”
Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease in which a person’s immune system attacks its own cells and tissues, most commonly affecting the joints, skin kidneys, central nervous system, heart and lungs. It affects approximately 1.5 million Americans, 90 percent of whom are women. The disease has no know cure and can be fatal.
In the process of educating herself about the disease, Nguyen learned that two of her own cousins suffer from lupus. “Not only did we help spread awareness about lupus to others, but we also discovered that the disease affected our own family and friends,” she said. She indicated that Phi Delta Alpha intends to continue to raise funds for lupus research at OMRF.
At OMRF, Harley leads a team of scientists that has made groundbreaking discoveries in lupus research. Most recently, Harley and Dr. Judith James identified a link between the disease and the Epstein-Barr virus, a common childhood infection best known for causing mononucleosis.
Chartered in 1946, OMRF (www.omrf.org) is a private, nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to basic research, education and finding better treatments for a wide range of diseases. In addition to lupus, OMRF scientists have also made important research contributions in the areas of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
In the photo (left to right), Phi Delta Alpha co-founders Eileen Chen, Sarah Brown and Kim Nguyen present their sorority’s donation to OMRF’s Kim Rossacci and Dr. John Harley.