Laura Lewandowski, a pediatric rheumatology/global health fellow at the Duke Global Health Institute, received the 2014 Career Development Award from the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) to support her work on pediatric lupus in Cape Town, South Africa.
Project Explores the Interplay of Lupus, Race, and Risk for HIV
Through her project, “PULSE: Pediatric Update on Lupus in South Africa: Epidemiology and Management,” Lewandowski is studying the role of race in lupus severity and risk factors for HIV in lupus patients.
She’s exploring several key research questions:
- How many pediatric lupus patients are there in South Africa?
- Are pediatric lupus patients in South Africa at risk for more severe disease at presentation than patients in North America?
- Are certain subpopulations of pediatric lupus patients more at risk for certain types of disease based on race?
- What are the most effective treatments for pediatric lupus in South Africa?
- How do you manage lupus in a tuberculosis endemic site?
- How does access to care affect diagnosis and treatment options in South Africa and throughout the world?
Award Supports Lupus Research
The LFA’s annual Career Development Award provides a $70,000 grant to facilitate the professional development of one or two rheumatology, nephrology or dermatology fellows in the U.S. and Canada who are engaged in lupus research. Lewandowski was the sole recipient of the award in 2014.
Award Provides for Additional Staff and Sites
With the LFA funding, Lewandowski has hired a full-time research nurse to coordinate the study and data collection in South Africa. In addition, the award will enable her to expand the study to new sites in South Africa, which greatly enhances the information she and her team can collect. They will also focus on the interaction of lupus with HIV and tuberculosis, two infections that are endemic to the area.
Lewandowski is excited about the opportunities the LFA funding affords to her and her research team. She notes, “My work in South Africa combines my passions for pediatric rheumatology, working with underserved patients and global health into one comprehensive project. Very little is known about pediatric lupus in Africa, so the opportunity to work with this underserved and understudied population has been truly life-changing. And with this funding, we can expand the project and ultimately impact more children.”
Listen to Lewandowski talk about her project in this LFA video.
Very little is known about pediatric lupus in Africa, so the opportunity to work with this underserved and understudied population has been truly life-changing.Laura Lewandowski, pediatric rheumatology/global health fellow at DGHI