Baylor Research Institute Receives $3.3 Million Grant to Continue Research in Autoimmune Diseases

Grant funds Autoimmunity Center of Excellence Led by Renowned Immunologist Dr. Virginia Pascual

Article ID: 617865

Released: 13-May-2014 1:00 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: Baylor Scott and White Health

Newswise — DALLAS, Texas (May 13, 2014) – Baylor Research Institute has received a $3.3 million grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), one of the National Institutes of Health, to fund its Autoimmunity Center of Excellence. The grant is awarded to Virginia Pascual, MD, the leader of the Autoimmunity Center of Excellence and a director at Baylor Institute for Immunology Research (BIIR).

The Autoimmunity Center of Excellence was established at BIIR in 2009 when Dr. Pascual received a $3.5 million grant from NIAMS. The current grant is a renewal of the earlier one and builds on the successes that have occurred in the past five years.

The BIIR Autoimmunity Center of Excellence is one of only a few such centers in the nation. This designation is given to outstanding research and clinical facilities that are awarded these grants.

"This was an extremely competitive grant, and we are fortunate that our proposal was renewed. The goals of the center include understanding the mechanisms that lead to autoimmunity and developing tools to monitor these dysfunctional pathways in patients,” Dr. Pascual said.

"BIIR has a very strong autoimmunity program, and the renewal of the Autoimmunity Center of Excellence further demonstrates the quality and success of our program,” said Michael Ramsay, MD, president of Baylor Research Institute. “Dr. Pascual’s research focuses on autoimmune diseases such as lupus, dermatomyositis and juvenile arthritis. Her work on juvenile arthritis led to a successful treatment for children who did not respond to other therapies. Her group identified an immune system protein, interleukin 1, which is over-produced in these children, and found that a drug that was already on the market could block the effects of this protein.”

Dr. Pascual is a past recipient of the Kirkland Scholar Award in recognition of her work in the field of lupus. This award is given to nationally recognized scientists who study lupus.

ABOUT BIIRBIIR ( is the immunology component of Baylor Research Institute and is one of the top translational human immunology centers in the world. BIIR has programs in cancer vaccines, transplantation immunology, infectious diseases, and inflammatory diseases. The goal of BIIR is to quickly translate important research discoveries from the ‘bench to the bedside’ to improve patient care and prevent the causes of diseases before they occur.

About Baylor Scott & White HealthBaylor Scott & White Health is a not-for-profit health care system with total assets of $8.3 billion* and the vision and resources to offer its patients continued quality care while creating a model system for a dramatically changing health care environment. The new system includes 43 hospitals, more than 500 patient care sites, more than 6,000 active physicians, 34,000 employees and the Scott & White Health Plan. For More Information visit:

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