September 21, 2020



Newswise — ATLANTA — The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) was recently awarded a $7M grant to reduce inequities in symptom recognition, care and disease management of systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus). The grant, which will be led by the ACR’s Collaborative Initiatives (COIN) department, begins on Sept. 30. 

Lupus is a chronic disease that causes systemic inflammation affecting the skin, joints and multiple organs like the kidneys, heart and brain. Many patients may also experience fatigue, weight loss, and fever.

“Despite the research and medical advancements in treatment, lupus-related disparities still persist,” said Director of COIN, Starla Hairston Blanks, MBA, MPH. “We know that lupus disproportionately affects persons of color and that it is two to three times more common in African American women compared to White women, often with worse outcomes.” 

With funding divided into $1.4M per year through September 2025, the ACR will provide support to communities with the greatest impact of lupus disparities through various programming, like in-person interventions utilizing the allied health team, online and in-person training for clinical professionals and meaningful engagement of racially diverse and medically underserved communities. Efforts will also include: 

  • implementing educational sessions for healthcare providers and medical students on the signs and symptoms of lupus with an emphasis on differential diagnosis; 
  • utilizing the ACR’s Rheumatology Informatics System for Effectiveness (RISE) registry to expand the quality and use of lupus specific electronic health record tools and disease activity assessments to establish quality measures; 
  • increasing the availability of culturally and linguistically appropriate lupus education focused on increasing awareness, disparities, and symptom recognition; and 
  • expanding available pediatric-to-adult lupus transition and care coordination materials by engaging and educating school-based health professionals. 

Supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Developing and Disseminating Strategies to Build Sustainable Lupus Awareness, Knowledge, Skills, and Partnerships grant backs organizations carrying out national efforts to increase the number of healthcare providers recognizing the signs and symptoms of lupus and helps them determine the next steps if the condition is suspected. 

“ACR’s membership, registry and existing networks create a unique opportunity to leverage its access to healthcare providers and communities most impacted with lupus disparities,” said S. Sam Lim, MD, MPH, chair of the ACR’s Collaborative Initiatives Special Committee. “We have the experience and the initiative to create culturally appropriate information aimed at eliminating health disparities in in this rheumatic disease.”




About the American College of Rheumatology

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is an international medical society representing over 7,700 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals with a mission to empower rheumatology professionals to excel in their specialty. In doing so, the ACR offers education, research, advocacy and practice management support to help its members continue their innovative work and provide quality patient care. Rheumatologists are experts in the diagnosis, management and treatment of more than 100 different types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases.