2024 Cure JM Grant Recipients

The 2024 grant cycle saw a strong field of new, progressive research projects from world-class researchers across the globe. The field of engaged, leading JM researchers continues to grow with studies in new targeted drug discovery and new biomarkers to more precisely predict flares, and brain development in inflammatory diseases.

We hope that by developing new treatments, patients of all ages will be able to reduce the use of harsher treatments like prednisone and methotrexate.

Research Grants

To investigate deucravacitinib, the newest of the "JAK inhibitor" drugs.

Melissa Morales, PhD, State University of New York

“JAK inhibitors” are a new class of drugs that work by stopping the Janus kinases (JAK) from responding to triggers that might cause inflammation. These drugs are being developed to treat a variety of diseases, including cancer, autoimmune diseases, and inflammatory disease. JAK inhibitors are still under development, but have shown promise in clinical trials. Deucravacitinib shows promise in juvenile myositis and has a low side effect profile.

What is the Desired Outcome?

We will study deucravacitinib as a potential new treatment for juvenile myositis. The hopeful outcome is for us to add new therapy to the arsenal of safe and effective treatments, while minimizing side effects of today’s standard treatments (including corticosteroids and chemo drugs).  .

Nailfold Capillary Imaging - to Accurately diagnose & Predict Flares

Sara Sabbagh, D.O.Sara Sabbagh, DO, Medical College of Wisconsin

Jessica Turnier, M.D.Jessica Turnier, MD, University of Michigan

To improve the use of observing nailfold capillaries (blood vessels) in diagnosing and treating juvenile myositis. They will combine a nailfold capillary observation technique that is widely used in many JM clinics with a new technique to examine the cells that line the insides of the vessels.

What is the Desired Outcome?

To deepen our understanding of nailfold image analyses and interpretation to better diagnose patients, identify flares earlier, and determine earlier how patients are responding to medication.

How Inflammation Impacts the Developing Brain

Andrea Knight, MD, MSCE, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada

To study on how childhood-onset of inflammatory diseases impacts the developing brain. Data will be gathered through interview questions and non-contrast brain MRIs.

What is the Desired Outcome?

We would like to understand if any link exists between inflammation and certain mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Studying this connection could pave the way for new treatment approaches targeting the underlying inflammatory processes involved in depression and anxiety.

Funding Fellows to Present on Juvenile Myositis at GCOM

To send up to five pediatric rheumatology fellows to present on juvenile myositis at the Global Conference on Myositis (GCOM). The conference will be held March 15-17, 2024 in Pittsburgh, PA. A fellow is a physician who has completed their residency training but has not yet chosen their specialty. 

What is the Desired Outcome? 

To encourage more doctors to pursue an interest in juvenile myositis care and research, ultimately leading to more juvenile myositis specialists, which we hope will lead to better care and research for JM.

Emotional Mental Health and Health Support

We are also proud to be funding three new grants to address the mental health and emotional support needs of the families we serve. This program was generously funded by the RB DenUyl Family Foundation in loving memory of Bruce and Eric DenUyl.

Comprehensive Mental Health Support Protocol for JM Patients

Misha Balmuri, MD, Johns Hopkins University

To screen every JM patient for mental health concerns at each clinic visit. In addition, each patient will have at least one visit with the pediatric psychologist. Finally, the team will develop mental health awareness videos to help families and patients recognize symptoms of mental health problems and offer some immediate coping mechanisms.

What is the desired Outcome?

To implement the use of an in-clinic social worker to screen patients and caregivers for mental health concerns and perform follow-up visits when appropriate.

Integrating Depression and Anxiety Screening with Therapeutic Support

Alaina Davis, MD,
Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt

To integrate depression and anxiety screening into the pediatric rheumatology clinic. An in-clinic therapist will also help patients identify and challenge their negative thoughts and beliefs to develop more helpful thinking patterns and behaviors.

What is the Desired Outcome?

To improve the mental and emotional health of juvenile myositis patients. 

Integrating In-Clinic Social Work for Early Mental Health Support

Andrea Knight, MD, MSCE, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada

To implement the use of an in-clinic social worker to screen patients and caregivers for mental health concerns and perform follow-up visits when appropriate.

What is the Desired Outcome?

We anticipate that this program will help ensure a better quality of life for juvenile myositis patients by addressing anxiety and depression early.

“Through this project and others, we aim to create a playbook that will help all pediatric rheumatologists support the emotional support needs of their patients.”

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