With researchers suffering from the declining availability of funds from the National Institutes of Health and other sources, the ACR charged the REF to develop our capacity to fund research through a disease-targeted research program focused on rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The REF developed and implemented the Within Our Reach: Finding a Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis campaign, which has raised nearly $25 million and funded 45 peer-reviewed grants for $18 million in the last three and a half years. Many of the gifts have come from patients with RA and their families who value the REF’s commitment to using 100% of their donations to Within Our Reach to fund research.
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Explore This IssueSeptember 2009
What, then, is the value of the advances made at the REF over these last four years to the members of the ACR and the ARHP? First and foremost, we have developed the capacity to raise funds to support our grants program. We have a strategy to engage our members as advocates for the foundation and to allow us to enhance the culture of philanthropy within the ACR and the ARHP. These advocates have served to connect patients with an interest in research with the opportunities afforded by the grants programs of the REF.
Also, the value is in the research the REF is funding. For example, we recently reported on an REF-funded project that found important prognostic information about long-term childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus, helping clinicians educate their patients about future outcomes and how to prevent comorbidities. Another project links body composition to RA disability, and by understanding this linkage, clinicians can improve their patients’ quality of life.
As I complete my service to the REF, I recognize that our efforts are still in their early stages. However, I depart with full confidence in the quality and integrity of the grants portfolio and administration, as well as in the volunteers and staff we have in place to carry out the mission of the REF.
My fervent hope is that the members of the ACR and the ARHP will increasingly recognize that the REF is an organization that provides desperately needed funding for research and training in our field that ultimately benefits rheumatologists, health professionals, and patients suffering from rheumatic diseases.
Thank you for an amazing four years, and please continue to support the REF’s efforts to fund rheumatology training and research programs that are vital to improving care for your patients.