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News Releases

For Immediate Release

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Named Center of Excellence for Autoimmunity by the National Institutes of Health

Children’s will head multi-million dollar grant - One of only nine in the U.S.

A Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh physician is one of only nine researchers in the United States selected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to lead a $51 million effort to fight autoimmune diseases.

Massimo Trucco, MD, director of the Division of Immunogenetics at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, was awarded a 5-year grant from the NIH to expand research on new immune-based therapies for autoimmune diseases. These centers will enhance interactions between scientists and clinicians in order to accelerate the translation of research findings into medical applications. Autoimmune diseases afflict between 14 and 22 million Americans.

“To our patients, this new center will offer the guarantee that state-of-the-art therapeutic procedures are validated by a multi-center effort,” said Dr. Trucco, who also is the Hillman Professor of Pediatric Immunology at Children’s. “It is an important public health concern and a coordinated approach means improving and accelerating potential treatments.”

The centers will help support the following:

  • More accurately determine the burden of autoimmune diseases in the United States and the number of deaths that result from them
  • Research to identify the genetic and environmental factors that lead to autoimmune diseases
  • A centralized clinical research network with multi-institutional clinical trials of potential treatments
  • New training opportunities for professionals and new public education campaigns

Autoimmune diseases are caused by the misdirection of an immune response toward the body’s own tissue. The principal role of the immune system is to defend against infection. The body has safeguards to prevent the immune system from attacking its own tissue, but when these safeguards are breached, an autoimmune disease can result.

The centers will enable a wider range of autoimmune diseases to be studied as it facilitates collaboration and draws on the expertise of a larger network of scientists and physicians. Other institutions also awarded grants include: Columbia University, Duke University and the University of California at San Francisco.

Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5016,
Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-5016,

Last Update
February 19, 2008
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Last Update
February 19, 2008