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International Women’s Day – Celebrating Young Lupus Researchers

by | Mar 8, 2022

This International Women’s Day is celebrates the achievement of women breaking down bias and making a difference. In honor of this day, we are highlighting a few of the young women making great strides as the lupus researchers of our future while in a field where women are still under-represented despite the fact they make up 90% of the people living with lupus. The work from these young investigators is crucial for discovering the next advancements in research that will contribute to improved lupus treatments and ways to better manage and understand the disease.

Young researchers recognized during Women's History Month

Kristen Bricker, PhD candidate, Penn State College of Medicine

Kristen has always been interested in studying autoimmune diseases as many of her family members have been impacted by them. Her personal interest in autoimmune diseases and how they impact the body led her to join Dr. Rahman’s lab at Penn State College of Medicine to study autoimmune diseases, and specifically lupus, focusing on one molecule at a time and how better treatments can be made. Kristen received a 2021 Gina M. Finzi Memorial Student Summer Fellowship supporting her study of anti-microRNA Therapy as a potential treatment for lupus. Read more about her study here. 

May Choi, MD, MPH, FRCPC, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Rheumatology Assistant Professor, Cumming School of Medicine

Growing up, Dr. Choi was inspired by her late father who was a rheumatologist and the impact he made on the lives of so many of his patients. As she completed her own medical training, she developed a strong passion for lupus research. Since that time, Dr. Choi’s research accomplishments have been recognized with several awards, including the Lupus Foundation of America’s Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Award in 2019 for her study on antinuclear antibodies (ANA) associated with autoimmune diseases like lupus which could lead to better predicting disease activity and outcomes. Find out more about her ongoing study and its discoveries, here.

Emily Littlejohn, DO, MPH, Cleveland Clinic Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Diseases

Dr. Littlejohn was always drawn to women’s health. The need to better understand lupus and improve the quality of life for those living with lupus is what drives her research every day. Since starting her role at Cleveland Clinic, she has taken over the Cleveland Clinic Lupus Cohort (CCLC) where she has plans to explore measurements of blood markers over time in hopes of finding the best measures for early lupus activity. Her vision is to identify early markers of lupus that may prompt early treatment to prevent the onset or progression of lupus. Dr. Littlejohn was also awarded the LFA’s Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Award in 2019 for her study on ANA to address gaps in knowledge about ANA trajectories and changes over time and provide data to guide decision making into when to order ANA testing. Find out more about this study, here.

These women are just a few making a difference in the field of lupus research and in the lives of those impacted by lupus. This International Women’s Day, join us in celebrating the women who are devoted to improving the lives of those impacted by lupus. Join in on Facebook,  Twitter and Instagram and re-share our International Women’s Day post to spread the word.

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