Rheum News

Al Kim launched the COVaRiPAD study, a multi-departmental effort (Medicine, Neurology, Molecular Microbiology, Pathology & Immunology, Genetics) to examine COVID-19 vaccine responses in patients with autoimmune diseases

RDRRC Pilot and Feasibility grant RFA goes into effect Feb 1

Funding for Pilot and Feasibility Studies Related to the Rheumatic Diseases February, 2021

The Rheumatic Diseases Research Resource-based Center (RDRRC) at Washington University is pleased to announce the availability of research funds for its Pilot and Feasibility (P/F) program.

The overall goal of this program is to help develop innovative research programs at their earliest phases. We seek to support research projects specifically associated with the biology, pathogenesis, and/or therapy related to some aspects of rheumatic diseases, as broadly defined. Basic, translational, and clinical projects are all considered. Funds are available to support 2 P/F studies, with individual budgets up to $40,000 per year, with the option of extending the funding for a second year.


We invite applications from investigators who fall into any of the following categories (as defined by NIH):

(1)New investigators without current or past NIH research project support (R01, P01, or current R21 or R55) as a principal investigator to engage in innovative research. However, a new investigator may have had funding through a pilot NIH grant. New investigators should be clearly independent, have a faculty appointment higher than that of postdoctoral fellow or research associate, and have potential to be a productive investigator.

(2)Established investigators with no previous work in research related to the focus of the RDRRC and who are willing to test the applicability of their expertise on a problem related to rheumatic diseases.

(3)Established investigators with a proposal for testing the feasibility of a new or innovative hypothesis that is related to the research focus of the RDRRC, but represents a clear and distinct departure from the investigator’s ongoing research interest.

How to Apply Applications will be accepted in a two-stage process:

(1)Interested faculty should submit their NIH Biosketch (using updated Biosketch form*) with a listing of current research support and a “Pre-proposal” consisting of no more than one page describing their concept for the P/F study. Descriptions should include a brief statement on the background for the study, how the proposal is related to the rheumatic diseases, and anticipated specific aims. Applicants should identify their investigator category as defined above. If they fit into category #2 or #3, they must provide an explanation of why the proposed research fits into that category. The deadline for Pre-Proposals is April 6, 2021.

Send all application materials by email to Lorraine Schwartz at lschwartz@wustl.edu

(2) Following an evaluation of all submitted Pre-proposals with respect to the goals of the P/F program, the RDRRC will invite selected faculty to submit a completed “Formal Proposal.” This final application must follow the SF424/PHS398 format but the specific aims and research plan will be limited to 5 pages (not including references).

The anticipated deadline for the Formal Proposals will be May 28, 2021, including all required regulatory approvals and updated NIH forms. Formal proposals will be submitted as part of our annual Progress Report. Successful funding will commence on September 1, 2021. All funded PI’s will be required to submit timely Progress Reports and other information as needed for future RDRRC reports and renewal applications.

Specific questions? Direct them to Christine Pham, M.D. at cpham@wustl.edu or Deborah Lenschow, M.D./Ph.D. at dlenschow@wustl.edu

*Updated NIH Biosketch form is available at— https://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms/biosketch.htm





Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce that the Washington University Rheumatic Diseases Research Resource-based Center (WU-RDRRC) is up and running. The mission of the WU-RDRRC is to advance research in rheumatic diseases by providing the infrastructure, education, and training to assist our members in the experimental and scientific design of their projects. We provide subsidized service for the use of Cores that offer state-of-the-art technologies with the goal of advancing the pace of discovery. We also promote and enable cutting-edge collaborative science. Toward these goals, we offer the following Cores.

  • The Translational Research Core (TRC Director: Dr. Wayne Yokoyama). The TRC comprises three separate but related services devoted to the support of translational research efforts.
    1. The Biobank (led by Dr. Mark Watson and Dr. Al Kim). Our main goal is to develop an integrated rheumatic diseases Registry and biospecimens Repository that can be searched and maintained through electronic biomedical data management systems, allowing for the annotation, tracking, and sharing of tissue and databases. More information related to the Registry/Biobank is forthcoming on the website we are building.
    2. The Genomics and Bioinformatics Facility (GBF, led by Dr. Eli Roberson) will provide expertise and guidance needed for human genetics and genomics work. Dr. Roberson will provide consultation regarding any genomic projects to assess the goals and most appropriate approach. We will leverage resources from GTAC to provide cutting-edge and cost-effective sequencing and analysis technologies for WU-RDRRC investigators. A comprehensive list of the services at GTAC is available at https://gtac.wustl.edu/. For all WU-RDRRC members doing work with the GTAC, there will be dedicated bioinformatics support to assist with custom (non-pipeline) analyses. Three bioinformatics specialists, Paul Cliften (DNA analysis), Eric Tycksen (RNA analysis), and Jinsheng Yu (Microarray) will have a component of their time available to aid WU-RDRRC investigators with their data.  Requests can be made to Paul Cliften, GTAC Director of Computational Biology.
    3. The ImmunoMonitoring Lab (IML, led by Dr. Stephen Oh and Dr. Kathleen Sheehan) will provide the structure, instrumentation, and expertise to interrogate human and mouse immunologic profiles, including the use of validated panels of CyTOF-ready antibodies that have been developed by CHiiPs. A list of service offered by the IML is available at http://chiips.wustl.edu/iml-core-lab.html. The IML will offer WU-RDRRC investigators, prioritizing those who do not have access to other subsidies, up to 50% discount on labor costs, up to $1,000 per user per service. These subsidies will be distributed through the IML iLab. Submissions are on a rolling basis, first-come first-served.
  • The Genome Engineering Core (GEC Directors: Dr. Farshid Guilak and Dr. Megan Cooper). The GEC has two units: a) the Genome Engineering and iPSC Center (GEiC directed by Dr. Xiaoxia Cui) and b) the Transgenic and Knockout Mouse Facility (TKMF headed by Mr. Mike White).
    1. The GEiC offers a wide range of services including CRISPR nuclease design, assembly and validation for generation of genetically modified mouse models. A comprehensive list of services at GEiC is available at http://geic.wustl.edu/. The GEC will facilitate use of GEiC by as many members as possible but will prioritize use by junior faculty (Instructors, Assistant Professors). The GEC will reimburse 50% costs for autoimmune- and rheumatic disease-related projects (up to $4,000 for junior faculty and $1,000 for other members). Submissions are on a rolling basis and can be directed to Dr. Megan Cooper.
    2. The TKMF works closely with the GEiC for the rapid generation of genetically-modified mice. Other services offered by the TKMF are available at https://pathology.wustl.edu/research/core-facilities/transgenic-knockout-micro-injection-core/. All WU-RDRRC members receive subsidized services when using the TKMF.
  • The Cellular Imaging Core (CIC Director: Dr. James Fitzpatrick) leverages the significant recent institutional investment in the Washington University Center for Cellular Imaging (WUCCI). Services offered by the WUCCI are available at http://wucci.wustl.edu/. The CIC will accelerate the pace, expand the scope, and improve the efficiency of rheumatic diseases research by providing micro-grants that will cover approximately 50% of the recharge costs of a given imaging project up to a maximum of $2,000 for junior faculty and $1,000 for other members. Submissions are on a rolling basis and can be directed to Dr. Fitzpatrick.
  • The Administrative Core (Directors: Dr. Christine Pham and Dr. Deborah Lenschow). The Core will administer the Pilot and Feasibility Program and the JIT Core Usage Funding Program.
    1. The Pilot and Feasibility Program supports early phase, innovative research programs from new investigators, especially Assistant Professors. The RFA will be announced in early Spring and will support 2 projects per year up to a budget of $40,000 per year, with the option of renewing funding for a 2nd
    2. The JIT Core Usage Funding Program is designed to provide quick access to funding for use in rheumatic disease-related projects in any of the WU-RDRRC-related Cores. All members can apply but priority will be given to faculty who do not have access to other subsidies or with limited extramural funding. We recommend consulting with the Core(s) and Directors to determine the appropriateness of the projects and in order to avoid duplicating discounts on any specific service. Call for applications will be announced quarterly. Funds may be requested for services for up to $2,000 and up to 2 Cores maximum, per JIT application cycle.

We are working on a website, which will have links to all the Cores, application forms, P/F and JIT RFA announcements.

Don’t forget to cite the grant in publications: P30 AR073752

Christine Pham, MD                           Debbie Lenschow, MD PhD

Director                                               Co-Director


Congratulations to Rick Brasington, MD and Wayne Yokoyama, MD!

Masters of the American College of Rheumatology 2018

This is one of the highest honors the College bestows to members who have made outstanding contributions to the field of rheumatology through scholarly achievement and/or service to their patients, students, and profession.

Other Masters in our Division include Dr. John Atkinson, MD and Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, MD PhD


Decades of dedication lead to drug trial for rare, fatal illness

Old cancer drug may treat devastating blood vessel disease

by Tamara BhandariJune 19, 2018

John P. Atkinson, MD, (right) talks with patient Kim Morey, of Bentonville, Ark., a participant in the first clinical trial evaluating a potential drug therapy for a rare, fatal disease called retinal vasculopathy with cerebral leukodystrophy (RVCL). Atkinson, who directs the RVCL Research Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is leading the trial and has played a key role in research to describe the disease and develop a genetic test to identify it.

Read More

Center for Advanced Medicine – South County Opening April 19

Mar 11, 2016

Patients in south St. Louis County and southern Illinois will soon have access to a higher level of care closer to home. The Center for Advanced Medicine – South County is opening April 19. The new outpatient facility jointly owned by Barnes-Jewish and Washington University is located near the Siteman Cancer Center at I-55 and Butler Hill Road.

Read More

January 4, 2016

$4.1 million Clayco Foundation gift aids research into rare disease

By Kristina Sauerwein

Clayco’s chairman and CEO, Robert G. Clark, along with the company’s partners, have committed $4.1 million to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis to advance research into a rare blood vessel disease that results in death five to 10 years following diagnosis.

The gift – which has been committed through The Clayco Foundation — will fund research in the laboratory of John P. Atkinson, MD, the Samuel B. Grant Professor of Medicine and chief of the Division of Rheumatology. Atkinson, who treats patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, was part of a team that originally identified the disease — cerebroretinal vasculopathy (CRV) — in 1988 and, in 2007, the genetic defect that causes it. The disease is caused by the progressive loss of small blood vessels in the brain and retinas.

Additionally, The Clayco Foundation is donating $25,000 to support an international CRV symposium sponsored by the School of Medicine.

Rare diseases such as CRV often receive scant attention and modest research funding, despite the fact that research into such disorders often leads to findings and treatments relative to more common diseases.

Read more

Al Kim MD PhD Al Kim launched the COVaRiPAD study, a multi-departmental effort (Medicine, Neurology, Molecular Microbiology, Pathology & Immunology, Genetics) to examine COVID-19 vaccine responses in patients with autoimmune diseases

Congratulations Can Sungur for receiving the Knowlton Incentive for Excellence Award

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RDRRC Pilot and Feasibility grant RFA goes into effect Feb 1

RDRRC Pilot and Feasibility grant RFA goes into effect Feb 1

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