Introduction from the Director to The Future Directions of Lupus Research

August 5, 2007

I am pleased to introduce The Future Directions of Lupus Research, a planning document presented by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and developed with tremendous input from scientific experts from the lupus research community and beyond. This document focuses on five major areas of research including: disease etiology; innate immunity, acquired immunity and inflammation; target organ damage; pediatric lupus, special populations and health services research; and diagnosis and treatment.

Although the topics contained within this document are presented separately, we consider them to be overlapping components. Those items mentioned are presented as part of a dynamic planning process that occurs at the NIH and is based on a balance of scientific opportunities and public health needs. The plan is not meant to be comprehensive, and we do not mention opportunities in every research area; however, through input from various stakeholders the current state-of-the-science was considered in identifying the most pressing needs and opportunities that will help propel the field forward. As a note, because this plan is intended primarily as a research planning document, it has been written at a level that is most useful for scientists, health care providers, and members of the public familiar with the relevant science.

Thanks to major advances in lupus research within the last 20 years, individuals with the disease are benefiting from diagnostic tools that can detect disease far earlier in the process, before major tissue damage occurs. Additionally, these advances make it possible to categorize lupus as a chronic disease since patients are now benefiting from targeted, less toxic therapies. The ultimate goal of this plan is to identify needs and opportunities from both public and private organizations to continue to accelerate progress in lupus research to further improve quality of life of patients who have lupus.

Sincerely,
Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, NIAMS