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Upstate to establish center dedicated to autoimmune and inflammation disorders

Upstate Medical University is one of 26 academic medical institutions in New York state to receive funds through the state’s Empire Clinical Research Investigator Program (ECRIP), which is designed to support research that will improve the health of all New Yorkers. Funds were awarded to individuals and centers. Upstate received a center award in the amount of $698,888 to be divided into $349,444 annually for a period of two years.

The funds awarded to Upstate will be used to establish the Lupus, Autoimmunity, Inflammation and Immune Health Center of Excellence (LACE) at Upstate University Hospital and will be led by Upstate’s Andras Perl, MD, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and chief of rheumatology. LACE will focus on the metabolic control of autoimmunity, inflammation and immune health.

Upstate’s Vice President for Research and Research Foundation Operations Manager David Amberg, PhD, is a champion of Dr. Perl’s research. “Dr. Andras Perl is one of Upstate Medical University’s top translational researchers and a world authority on lupus, Amberg said. “Autoimmunity and inflammation are the root cause of a great many diseases plaguing the nation and the world, from psychiatric disorders to diabetes, and of course lupus. Dr. Perl’s center idea is important, timely and transformative.”

According to Perl, “The center will promote the development of clinician researchers and a web-based infrastructure will be designed to support clinical research, data capture and retrieval systems that will facilitate quality improvement and retrospective and prospective clinical studies.”

The proposed center would build on current National Institutes of Health-supported programs which require high-resolution mass spectroscopy and imaging instrumentation. In support of the proposed center, Perl has been awarded three new grants from the NIH for basic and translational studies in lupus.

Perl, co-director of Upstate’s MD/PhD program, has been the director of the Rheumatology Fellowship Program at Upstate since 2003 and will serve as mentor for two additional ECRIP research fellows.

Beyond training fellows, the center will support new collaborative initiatives in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

Perl joined the Upstate faculty in 1992. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies Center of Excellence, the American Association of Immunologists, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American College of Rheumatology and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

ECRIP, developed in 2000, has awarded a total of $116 million to date.

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