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Media Coverage

Health Disparities Seminar Series

May 2012 Seminar Series
In honor of Lupus Awareness Month, the National Institutes of Health welcomes Dr. Graciela S. Alarcón as the featured speaker for the NIH Health Disparities Seminar Series on May 17, 2012. This month, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) is coordinating the May seminar in collaboration with the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or lupus, is a serious and potentially fatal disease that mainly affects young women. The cause of the disease is not known, but it is believed to be an autoimmune disease (an illness that occurs when the body mistakenly detects its own tissue as foreign and attacks itself). The manifestations of lupus are diverse: it can affect many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. Lupus is two to three times more common in African American women than in Caucasian women and is also more common in women of Hispanic descent. African American and Hispanic women are also more likely to experience more severe disease symptoms, and they accrue damage earlier in the course of the disease and at a faster pace. While genetics play an important role in lupus, research also shows that genes alone do not determine who gets lupus. It is likely that many factors trigger the disease.

Led by Dr. Graciela S. Alarcón, investigators with the long-running LUpus in MInority populations NAture vs. nurture (LUMINA) multi-ethnic cohort study, initially funded by NIAMS, are working to reduce these disparities and identify the risk factors for the disease. Dr. Alarcón and her team are following 600 Caucasian, African American, and Hispanic patients to determine to what extent the differential outcomes observed in patients with lupus from ethnic minority groups is primarily due to biologic or non-biologic factors. In her presentation, Dr. Alarcón will discuss the impact of ethnicity on the course and outcome of lupus, as demonstrated by data from the LUMINA study. (Click here for abstract)

Dr. Alarcón is currently Jane Knight Lowe Chair of Medicine in Rheumatology, Emeritus, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Alarcón has devoted her academic career to the study of risk factors accounting for poor disease outcomes among patients with different rheumatic disorders, the modification of these risk factors, and the implementation of evidence-based advances in clinical practice. Dr. Alarcón is the principal investigator for the LUMINA and PROFILE studies of lupus. Dr. Alarcón received her degree in medicine at the Facultad de Medicinea, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru, and she received her M.P.H. at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Presentation Title: Impact of Ethnicity on the Course and Outcome of Lupus: Lessons from LUMINA

Guest Speaker:
Dr. Graciela S. Alarcón (Click here for bio)
Jane Knight Lowe Chair of Medicine in Rheumatology, Emeritus
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham, Alabama

Thursday, May 17, 2012
2:00 - 3:30 P.M.

NIH Campus
Building 45, Natcher Conference Center, Balcony A
45 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD

Additional Information: There is limited parking on the NIH campus. The closest Metro is Medical Center. Please allow adequate time for security check. The seminar will be video cast and made available in the NIH Video archives and on the NIMHD website after the seminar. Sign language interpreters will be provided. Individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations to participate should contact Edgar Dews at 301-402-1366 or the Federal Relay at 1-800-877-8339.

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