The ACR Research and Education Foundation (REF) has launched “Within Our Reach,” a national, multiyear, $30-million fundraising campaign aimed at accelerating innovative research on rheumatoid arthritis. RA—long considered one of the most disabling types of arthritis—has been a primary focus of rheumatologic research. Recent advances in the basic management of RA include targeted treatments and improvements in treating other types of inflammatory arthritis. Unfortunately, we still do not know the cause of RA or have a cure.
“Despite its prevalence in the population, rheumatoid arthritis typically receives disproportionately less research funding from federal sources than do other autoimmune diseases, and most of that limited funding is currently focused on treatment and management of the disease,” says James R. O’Dell, MD, REF president. “The REF believes that more funding needs to be directed toward the kind of RA research that goes beyond treatment only—the kind of research that seeks to find a cure through better understanding the causes of and preventions for this devastating disease.”
“Within Our Reach,” the largest private fundraising campaign in REF’s history, is driven largely by major gifts from a diverse donor base. Since outreach began in March 2006, more than $17 million has been raised, including gifts from pharmaceutical industry supporters and the patient community. The “Within Our Reach” campaign is led by the 59-member “Within Our Reach” Leadership Council, made up primarily of community rheumatologists from across the nation.
“That we have seen generous commitments not only from industry but also from patients, and that we have a dedicated team of community rheumatologists leading the effort, really speaks volumes about this campaign,” Dr. O’Dell states. “The progress we’ve made in this first year affirms that we truly have struck a chord that resonates not only with the rheumatology community, but also with the general populace.”
Accelerating RA research will enhance practicing rheumatologists’ ability to characterize various causes of the disease, predict onset, individualize treatment, prevent joint damage, and improve joint function. “Within Our Reach” has the capacity to improve RA patients’ quality of life, alleviate long-term effects of RA, and ultimately ensure that future generations can enjoy life without RA.
‘Within Our Reach’ Supporters
The REF gratefully acknowledges the following companies and individuals who have demonstrated leadership support for the “Within Our Reach” campaign. This information was current as of January 2:
Pinnacle ($5 million +):
- Abbott Immunology
- American College of Rheumatology
- Bristol-Myers Squibb
Partner ($1 million +):
- Genentech, Inc.
Lay Community Supporters
- J. Peter Cahill (in memory of Carol K. Cahill)
- Betsy and John McLinden