Newswise — PITTSBURGH, PA -- Sept. 6 -- The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) will present its signature national public forum, “What Every American Needs to Know about Autoimmune Disease” on Saturday, September 28, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Autoimmunity Institute (4815 Liberty Avenue).

Presented in partnership with the Institute and with grant funding from Genentech and Horizon, this free public forum is open to autoimmune patients, families, healthcare professionals and the general public.  Noted authorities, including AHN’s leading specialists in autoimmune diseases, will speak on timely autoimmune topics such as Transforming Care for Autoimmune Disease; Women and Autoimmune Disease; Team-Based Care: The Celiac Model; Nutrition, Exercise and Autoimmune Disease; Anxiety, Depression and Autoimmune Disease; and Coping with Autoimmune Disease.  Featured speakers include Robert H. Phillips, Ph.D., founder and director, The Coping Counselors at the Center for Coping, Long Island, NY and Susan Manzi, MD, MPH, chair of the AHN Medicine Institute and director of the AHN Lupus Center of Excellence.  

There are more than 100 autoimmune diseases affecting one in every five Americans, including lupus, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac and Crohn’s.  Of those affected 75 percent are women.  AARDA works to bring a national focus to autoimmunity as a category of disease and a major women’s health issue.  

“The forum provides a wealth of information and resources to patients and families,” says AARDA Executive Director Virginia T. Ladd, “as well as the opportunity to ask the experts questions.  This is an invaluable service to the newly diagnosed as well as to those years into their diagnosis.  We always encourage people to be their own best advocate, and nothing empowers people to do that more than knowledge.”

AARDA is proud to host its Public Forum at the AHN Autoimmunity Institute at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh.  Providing comprehensive, team-based care all from one location for a range of autoimmune conditions, the Institute is the first of its kind.  

“Since we opened 15 months ago, our multidisciplinary team has cared for individuals from 29 states,” says Joseph Ahearn, MD, Chair, AHN Autoimmunity Institute.  “As a valued partner of ours, we are extremely pleased that AARDA is hosting this important forum at the Institute and look forward to continually working together to identify better treatments for these devasting diseases and, ultimately, a cure.”  

Pre-registration is required to attend.  Lunch will be provided to all who pre-register for the forum at

Following the forum, on Sunday, September 29, will be AARDA’s first-ever Pittsburgh Autoimmune Walk at Schenley Plaza (4100 Forbes Avenue) from 1-5 p.m.   Led by Walk Ambassador Dominica Pavlik, this event is expected to draw 200 or more Walkers who are currently dealing with autoimmune disease; supporting someone battling an autoimmune disease; or who, like Pavlik, have lost a loved one to autoimmune disease.  

“When I lost my cousin to TTP (thrombocytopenic purpura) at the age of 20,” says Pavlik, “I needed to find a purpose, a reason to celebrate her.  I found AARDA.  I am beyond happy to have been working with AARDA for the past 10 years to raise awareness.  And I’m delighted to be the first ambassador for the Pittsburgh Autoimmune Walk.”  

The Walk will include speakers, exhibitors, giveaways, games, DJ Tim Harris, a live performance by singer-guitarist Johnny Walylko, and a Warriors Walk around Schenley Plaza.  

To register, visit, email [email protected] or call (855) 239-2557. 


The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) is dedicated to the eradication of autoimmune diseases, and the alleviation of suffering and the socioeconomic impact of autoimmunity through initiating, fostering and facilitating collaboration in the areas of education, public awareness, research and patient services in an effective, ethical and efficient manner.  AARDA is the only national nonprofit organization bringing a national focus to autoimmunity as a category of disease and a major women’s health issue.  To learn more, visit  

About AHN Autoimmunity Institute  

Opened in 2018 at AHN’s West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, the AHN Autoimmunity Institute was instituted for patients who suffer from a range of autoimmune diseases.  The Institute’s multidisciplinary team improves the lives of individuals through precise diagnosis, effective treatment, and research toward a cure.  While its leading specialists provide treatments for all types of autoimmune diseases, the Institute hosts dedicated Centers of Excellence in lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease.  To learn more, visit



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