The University of Oklahoma’s Phi Delta Alpha sorority has presented the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation with a check to support lupus research at OMRF. This represents the second straight year that Phi Delta Alpha, Oklahoma’s first and only Asian sorority, has made a donation to support lupus research at OMRF.
“The members of Phi Delta Alpha are taking an active role in the battle against lupus,” said OMRF development director Tim Yaciuk. “Their efforts not only set an example for other students, but they are making a difference in the lives of people suffering from lupus.”
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 known cure and can be fatal.
According to Diana Chang, the director of philanthropy at Phi Delta Alpha, supporting lupus is a natural fit for the sorority. “We chose this disease because it so often strikes minorities and women,” she said. “As we learned more about it, we also learned that many of us are connected to people who have lupus.”
Sorority members held a variety of fundraising events, highlighted by a charity casino night. They also sold Asian arts and crafts and held car washed and carhops.
The sorority’s efforts will help fund lupus research at OMRF, one of the world leaders in this field. Most recently, a team of scientists led by John Harley, M.D., Ph.D., and Judith James, M.D., Ph.D., made national headlines when they identified proteins that appear in the blood of patients who later develop lupus. The discovery, they hope, will ultimately lead to a vaccine for the disease.
Chartered in 1946, OMRF (www.omrf.org) is a nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and curing human disease. Its scientists focus on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease. OMRF is home to Oklahoma’s only member of the National Academy of Sciences.