A pair of physician-scientists from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation presented papers at the 8th annual International Congress on Lupus in Shanghai, China, last week.
OMRF’s Joan Merrill, M.D., and John Harley, M.D., Ph.D., each gave invited presentations at the four-day conference, which focuses on the autoimmune disease lupus. More than 1,500 researchers, clinicians, scientists, advocates and pharmaceutical company executives and people with lupus attended the event.
Merrill and Harley are internationally recognized for their research on lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the body’s own healthy tissue. The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that at least five million people worldwide suffer from the disease, which can cause strokes, heart attacks, disabling pain, disfiguring skin rashes and other serious health problems.
Merrill, who heads OMRF’s Clinical Pharmacology Research Program and serves as Medical Director of the Lupus Foundation of America, spoke about the development of new treatments for lupus. Harley leads OMRF’s Arthritis and Immunology Research Program, and his talk dealt with the origins of the disease.
The pair was joined at the Congress by fellow OMRF researcher Amr Sawalha, M.D., who was one of 20 scientists from around the world selected to receive a Young Investigator Award to help underwrite travel and conference costs.
In conjunction with the Congress, the OMRF researchers and nearly 500 others participated in the inaugural “World Walks for Lupus” event at the Shanghai International Convention Center on May 25. Representatives from 25 international lupus patient advocacy organizations were among the walkers.
Chartered in 1946, OMRF (www.omrf.org) is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and developing more effective treatments for human disease. Its scientists focus on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease. OMRF’s scientists, who include a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, hold more than 500 U.S. and international patents.