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Explore This IssueAugust 2012
One of the major goals of the ACR is to promote basic, translational, clinical, and health-services research aimed at improving the health of patients with rheumatic diseases. The ACR supports research and education through its annual meetings and clinical symposia, publication of its journals—Arthritis & Rheumatism and Arthritis Care & Research—advocacy to increase funding of rheumatology research, and a strong collaboration with our own Research and Education Foundation (REF).
The REF supports the overall research goals of the ACR on several fronts. It provides a robust portfolio of awards and grants to address critical shortfalls in the overall rheumatology landscape. The REF also promotes mentorship activities through efforts such as the REF Investigators’ Meeting, held in conjunction with the ACR Rheumatology Research Workshop, which brings junior and senior investigators together for mentorship opportunities. In conjunction with the National Institutes of Health, the REF leads discussions about how to best develop the careers of physician–scientists involved in rheumatic disease research.
Great Strides in Research Support
The ACR supports the goals of the Foundation as well. During Dr. O’Dell’s time as the REF president in 2006–2008, the ACR was generous in its support by becoming the first $5-million donor to the Within Our Reach: Finding a Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis campaign. Five years later, in November 2011, the REF launched the Journey to Cure campaign to raise $60 million—double the goal of the first campaign—and the ACR again was the first to step up, donating $5 million. This campaign will fund both the core award programs and the disease-targeted research grants.
As we look forward to a new fundraising campaign, there is the strong sense in the organization that, at the same time we embark on the next prodigious goal, we are now also engaged in “business as usual,” because raising major funds to support training and research is what the REF does—and we do it very well.
We are excited to announce that the REF is poised to lead a new era of rheumatology support that focuses on advancing treatment and finding medical breakthroughs to cure rheumatic diseases. This year, the REF will fund nearly $12 million in fellowship training grants, career development awards, and disease-targeted research grants representing an incredible investment in innovative research and developing successful careers in rheumatology—both research and practice.
In September, the REF will—for the first time—fund $2 million in investigator-initiated clinical trials. This is a major step forward in our quest to advance treatment and find cures. Outcomes from these grants will lead to new insights into the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), answering questions about investigational drugs or looking at new ways of using known treatments relevant to RA. In addition to these clinical trials, the REF continues to fund $1.2 million in translational RA research as part of the highly successful Within Our Reach campaign.