Taubman Institute grant fuels study on autoimmune skin diseases

November 13, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Michigan Medicine News

A team of U-M researchers is launching a study to enrich understanding of autoimmune skin diseases and why some people respond better than others to treatment. In the process, they aim to derive new knowledge about the immune response that could lead to more targeted, personalized therapies for a wider array of disorders.

Dubbed PerMIPA, the study is the first to be funded as a Taubman Institute Innovation Project – a new grants program by U-M’s A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute.

About 40 teams applied for the first round of innovation grants this year when the program launched, said Taubman Institute director Charles F. Burant, M.D., Ph.D.

“I’m really thrilled that our first innovation grant is going to these talented investigators,” said Burant.  “They already have advanced our understanding of autoimmune skin diseases and now they will apply that knowledge to figure out why some people relapse when others don’t. We really feel that this project will make a significant difference in the care of patients.”

The Taubman Institute Innovation Project awards – or TIIPs for short – encourage involving more patients and health care providers in the research process.  TIIPs also encourage multi-disciplinary science, with teams drawing expertise from throughout the university in fields such as engineering and informatics.

PerMIPA is headed by Michelle Kahlenberg, M.D., Ph.D. and Johann Gudjonsson, M.D., Ph.D., each of whom are prior recipients of the Taubman Emerging Scholar grants that help junior medical school faculty further their research programs. Both physicians care for patients at Michigan Medicine in addition to running their laboratories and serving as faculty at the U-M Medical School.

Hundreds of patients being seen at U-M clinics for lupus and psoriasis will be invited to join the study by providing tissue and blood samples, and detailed medical histories at various points in their treatment.

“This incredible support by the Taubman Institute will allow us to take steps toward addressing how factors such as age, genetics, gender and race affect the immune system and how these factors affect the course and treatment responses in our patients,” said Gudjonsson. “It will establish and accelerate a foundation for a personalized approach for the treatment of autoimmune disorders and revolutionize our capabilities to manage patients with these devastating and frequently challenging diseases.”

About PerMIPA: The study’s acronym stands for “Personalized medicine through integration of immune phenotypes in autoimmune skin diseases.”

To volunteer for PerMIPA, please call Rewaa Yas in the rheumatology department at 734-936-3257 or the dermatology clinical research team at 734-936-4070.

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