BUSM’S Vasculitis Center Receives $6M Grant from National Institutes of Health

Contact: Michelle Roberts, 617-639-8491 | michelle.roberts@bmc.org

(Boston) – The Vasculitis Center at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) has received a five-year $6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will be used to research new biomarkers for vasculitis disease activity and prognosis. The research will also develop and standardize outcome measures for the different types of vasculitis, and develop and standardize imaging techniques for the large vessel vasculitides. In addition, clinical trials of new therapeutic agents will be examined.

The VCRC, founded in 2003, is an integrated group of academic medical centers, patient support organizations, and clinical research resources dedicated to conducting clinical research in different forms of vasculitis and improving the care of patients with vasculitis. The operations of the VCRC are directed from Boston University and the VCRC Study Sites include Boston University, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, Mayo Clinic, University of Pittsburgh, University of Toronto, University of Utah, as well as several research partners in Europe. The VCRC is part of the NIH Rare Diseases Network.

Vasculitis is a rare disease that exists in several different forms. While some forms are due to infection or may be associated with other diseases, the causes of six kinds of vasculitis are unknown. Different forms of vasculitis cause inflammation in blood vessels, which may lead to the wall of the vessel weakening and possibly rupturing. The inflammation can also lead to thickening of the vessel wall, causing blockage of blood flow and tissue damage.

This new funding will be combined with other current NIH and Food and Drug Administration grants to the BU Vasculitis Center to support a series of clinical and translational research projects in vasculitis. The VCRC grant will specifically support clinical trials of new therapeutic agents for vasculitis, research into new biomarkers for vasculitis disease activity and prognosis, development and standardization of outcome measures for the different types of vasculitis, and training of new clinical investigators in vasculitis.

“We are extremely grateful for the ongoing generous support from the National Institutes of Health,” said VCRC principal investigator Peter A. Merkel, M.D., M.P.H., director of the BU Vasculitis Center and professor of medicine at BUSM. “They have provided us with the resources necessary to create this ongoing clinical research infrastructure and continue our work to improve our understanding of the causes of vasculitis and find new treatments for our patients who suffer from these complex and serious diseases.”

For more information on the Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium, please visit http://RareDiseasesNetwork.org/vcrc.