Dr. Zhao’s research will include the study of Alopecia Areata (AA), an autoimmune disease that leads to chronic and relapsing hair loss. Ajay Poddar, executive vice president of Artech Information Systems, LLC, says he was motivated to support the exploration of “the root-cause analysis of AA because this disease and other autoimmune conditions don’t get the attention they deserve.”
Dr. Robert Korngold, chairman of the Department of Research and the Jurist Research Institute at HackensackUMC, the host of Dr. Zhao’s activity, says the goal is to better understand the mechanism for modulating autoimmunity in Alopecia Areata and other types of diseases. This research will expand on Dr. Zhao’s promising results with cord blood cells that began with Type One Diabetes. “The possibilities are very broad, but we need to understand the science. We will be working with Dr. Zhao on preclinical data to provide the basis for future clinical trials.” Those trials will require FDA approval.
Poddar’s primary concern is for children with AA. “While Alopecia Areata is not a life threatening situation,” Poddar explains, “it is a quality of life situation.” AA affects children and adults and can have both a social and emotional impact. “Young children with AA have their whole lives ahead of them with this stigma,” he says. The first symptoms may be small bald patches and, in some cases, AA can lead to total hair loss. Hair can grow back only to fall out again. AA can go into remission or may be permanent. Poddar says children with AA are constantly “living with optimism and fear at the same time.” The unpredictable nature of the disease can cause added psychological stress.
Dr. Korngold says Dr. Zhao’s research will involve collaboration with other scientists at HackensackUMC regarding the potential for affecting other conditions such as Type One Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis. Poddar would also like to see that spirit of collaboration extend to the broader AA research community. “Using this particular research, other researchers within the AA area should be able to collaborate with Dr. Zhao to address the autoimmune imbalance and use drug therapies to help patients who are already suffering.” He hopes a combination of these efforts will address other autoimmune issues.
Poddar says, “My biggest hope is for more cooperation between the government and the public to provide funding for autoimmune research and for autoimmune conditions in general.”
For more information, please visit: http://www.hackensackumcfoundation.org/site/PageServer?pagename=artech_funds_autoimmune_study
About Hackensack University Medical Center
HackensackUMC, a nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. It is the flagship hospital of the Hackensack University Health Network, one of the largest health networks in the state comprised of 1,140 beds, nearly 10,000 employees and 2,200 credentialed physicians. HackensackUMC was listed as the number one hospital in New Jersey and one of the top three New York metro area hospitals in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospital rankings for 2013-14. It also received 10 national rankings in: Cancer; Cardiology & Heart Surgery; Ear, Nose & Throat; Gastroenterology & GI Surgery; Geriatrics; Neurology & Neurosurgery; Orthopedics; Pulmonology; Urology; and the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital ranked as one of the Top 50 Best Children’s Hospitals for Neurology and Neurosurgery in the 2013-14 Best Children’s Hospitals list. HackensackUMC is among Healthgrades® America’s Best 100 Hospitals in 10 different areas – more than any other hospital in the nation, is one of Healthgrades America's 50 Best Hospitals™ for seven years in a row, and received the Healthgrades Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence™ 11 years in a row. The medical center has also been named a Leapfrog Top Hospital, and received 19 Gold Seals of Approval™ by the Joint Commission – more than any other hospital in the country. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence. HackensackUMC is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls, and remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events. To learn more, visit: www.HackensackUMC.org.