Research is critically important to find cures and accelerate patient care for the millions who suffer from arthritis and rheumatic disease. Despite its prevalence in the population and recent treatment advances, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remains an incurable disease and receives disproportionately less research funding from federal sources than most other autoimmune diseases. This is precisely why the ACR Research and Education Foundation (REF) launched Within Our Reach: Finding a Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis to directly invest in the types of innovative research not being done elsewhere in the country.
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Explore This IssueJuly 2010
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Within Our Reach is the result of a process that began seven years ago with a proposal from the ACR Committee on Research. Amid increasing concerns about diminished NIH funding for academic rheumatology research, the committee convened a task force to investigate the issue. This task force recommended the establishment of a disease-specific research effort within the ACR REF using a volunteer-driven organizational model similar to other successful disease-targeted research efforts. Rheumatoid arthritis was chosen as the targeted disease, and the REF set out to test its ability to raise the significant funds needed and quickly distribute them in a new special initiative grants program. After conducting an extensive feasibility study, the REF built its fundraising program to accommodate the challenge of meeting a $30-million fundraising goal.
After the first request for proposals was published in September 2006, the peer review committee selected 15 recipients who began work on their projects on July 1, 2007. Thus far, a total of 230 applications have been received for four rounds of funding. This overwhelming response is truly a testament to the need for this type of funding opportunity in the field of RA.
In a relatively short time, Within Our Reach has made significant progress. To date, $26 million has been raised towards the $30-million fundraising goal. More importantly, $24 million in research grants have been funded for 54 notable investigators at academic and research institutions across the country. Within Our Reach has brought new investigators to the field of RA and built an infrastructure that had not existed previously in the U.S. to support more groundbreaking discoveries as well as to test hypotheses directly related to patient care and finding a cure.
Within Our Reach investigators represent a variety of scientific disciplines, including biochemistry, immunology, molecular biology, and genetics, and, thanks to this program, each one is engaged in cutting-edge research on the cause, diagnosis, and treatment of RA. These scientists are working hard to find a cure for RA and potentially uncover other disease breakthroughs afforded through this targeted research effort.
With your help, we can get closer to finding a cure for RA. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation. Every gift is important, and 100% of your donation to Within Our Reach directly funds RA research. Consider making your donation securely online at www.WithinOurReach.info.
Translating Basic Research and Fostering Scientific Collaborations
The first three cycles of funding have been to individual investigators who proposed projects within three categories: Innovative Basic Science, Translational Investigations, and Clinical Investigations. We are now moving into a phase of funding more translational and clinical work, as well as larger collaborative projects. As the campaign continues to move forward with great energy and enthusiasm, we are pleased to announce the fourth round of Within Our Reach RA grant recipients. Nine new research grants were awarded this round, totaling $6 million. These projects will focus on translational and clinical practice areas to improve our understanding of RA and translate recent advances in the prevention and treatment of RA into clinical practice for individuals and communities at risk. View a complete list of grant recipients online at www.WithinOurReach.info.
David R. Karp, MD, PhD, is chair of the ACR REF Scientific Advisory Council and is the Harold C. Simmons Chair in Arthritis Research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Contact him at [email protected].