Managing Lupus: Free Education Session Oct. 27

Oct. 1, 2012
Event Features Patient Panel, Tips for Families Helping Loved Ones Cope

Patients affected by lupus, along with their families and friends, are invited to the University of Rochester Medical Center’s sixth annual free patient education day on Saturday, Oct. 27. Held from noon to 4 p.m. in Helen Wood Hall (255 Crittenden Blvd.), the event features doctors and nurses from URMC’s lupus clinic discussing how the disease affects the body.

This year’s agenda promises a general overview of the disease, therapeutic strategies, and helpful community resources, plus a special guest talk – “How Can I Cope, and How Can My Family Help Me?” by Associate Professor of Psychiatry Carol Podgorski, Ph.D., M.P.H., of URMC’s Institute for the Family.

A patient panel, jointly moderated by Podgorski and colleague Tziporah Rosenberg, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Psychiatry at URMC, will offer a telling glimpse into the real-life experiences of people living with lupus. Finally, the afternoon rounds out with a close look into the state of research nationally and locally (the University is home to an NIH-funded Autoimmunity Center of Excellence that’s busy investigating new approaches for disease-management). Reservations are required; to secure your spot, please call Janet DiMora at (585) 273-4670.

In lupus – like in rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis – the immune system fails to differentiate between its own good cells and dangerous invaders, like viruses and bacteria. Rather than solely attacking these foreign materials, it generates faulty antibodies that also destroy the body’s own tissues.

As a result, lupus sufferers can experience inflammation, pain and ultimately, damage, to their joints, skin, blood, and even major organs such as the heart, kidneys and brain. Fortunately, with early diagnosis and proper specialist care, patients can be treated treat earlier, enjoy symptom relief, and sometimes, in the more severe cases, even avoid irreversible organ damage.

“It continues to be an exciting time for the lupus community,” said Jennifer Anolik, M.D., Ph.D., a physician in the Division of Allergy/Immunology and Rheumatology and the event’s organizer. “Belimumab, which the FDA approved in 2011, represents a new wave of ‘targeted’ therapies – an improvement over our current medications, like steroids, which suppress the immune system in broad fashion, sometimes causing unwanted side effects like infections, bone thinning, even heart disease.”

Anolik, who will discuss the state of research and clinical trials, says URMC’s Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology division continues its keen focus on investigating more targeted therapies. She and other University of Rochester scientists have been studying B-cell targeted therapies (like belimumab) for years.

Lupus affects close to one and a half to two million people nationwide; 90 percent of are women, who are most often stricken in their childbearing years. By and large, most people find it to be a controllable disease – perhaps experiencing fatigue, joint pain, or a rash, for instance, but otherwise managing well between medicine and consistent monitoring by their doctors. A smaller set of patients, however, do suffer a more extreme disease course, sometimes facing life-threatening problems.

To learn more about URMC’s lupus clinic and program, visit or call Shirley Parks at (585) 341-7900 or Maria Allen at (585) 275-7167.

To reserve your place at the free education day event, please call Janet DiMora at (585) 273-4670.