On Saturday, May 18, 2024, MMRI hosted more than 350 people at the Masonic Care Community Campus, located at 2150 Bleecker Street, Utica, New York, to walk in support of its lupus research. This was Utica’s first walk to support the devastating autoimmune disease estimated to affect 1.5 million people in the United States and 120,000 in New York State alone.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) causes the immune system to attack one’s own tissue, causing inflammation in the skin, joints, blood, heart, lungs, brain and kidneys. Importantly, ninety percent of people living with SLE are female and it disproportionately affects minority populations.

Elected officials, including Congressman Brandon Williams, Senator Joseph Griffo, Joshua Pearlman, Central New York Regional Director for Senator Schumer, Joshua Pearlman, Assemblyman Brian Miller and Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, joined Maria Kontaridis, Ph.D., executive director and Gordon K. Moe professor and chair of biomedical research and translational medicine at MMRI and Kathleen Arntsen, president and CEO at LADA, for a press conference to kick off the inaugural event.

“We are delighted to hold Utica’s first Lupus Walk to support our growing lupus research endeavors,” said Maria Kontaridis, Ph.D. “My mother’s 33-year-long battle with lupus motivated me to make lupus research a priority at MMRI. Our findings give great hope that one day soon there will be newer and better treatment options available for so many patients that suffer with this disease.”

“All of us at LADA are thrilled to partner with MMRI to co-sponsor this inaugural lupus walk during Lupus Awareness Month in the Utica area,” said Kathleen Arntsen. “The event is especially meaningful to us since it not only supports lupus research at the MMRI but allows us to strengthen our advocacy and research collaboration with the institute.”

“I am extraordinarily grateful for the bright minds spearheading MMRI’s lupus research, and for the dedicated advocates who have worked to organize the first annual Lupus Walk,” said Congressman Brandon Williams. “The road ahead is long, but initiatives like these and the people behind them are sources of hope for those impacted by this disease.”

“The Masonic Medical Research Institute is a premier biomedical research institute that does important work that improves the lives of others,” said Senator Joseph Griffo. “This includes critical research that helps us to better understand lupus and other debilitating diseases. I am hopeful that, thanks to the efforts of MMRI and so many others, we will be able to find an effective treatment – and more importantly a cure – that can bring much-needed relief and comfort to those living with lupus and their families.”

“I want to thank the Masonic Medical Research Institute for their dedication and commitment to research of the chronic long-term disease, lupus. The walk is significant as it brings awareness, and support for the research,” said Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon.

“With so many in this country impacted by the debilitating effects of lupus, more must be done to raise awareness and support research,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “I applaud MMRI for attacking this autoimmune disease on both fronts, through advocacy with this year’s first annual walk and through the cutting edge research they conduct right here in Oneida County.”

LADA has been a proud supporter of MMRI research since 1990 and currently supports four major research SLE projects, including identifying how increased activity of specific biological enzymes in the body can affect progression and pathogenesis of SLE; identifying new ways to target and treat lupus nephritis; developing novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of SLE; and studying how immune cell activity in SLE can lead to the development of venous thromboembolisms.

The media sponsors for Utica’s first walk to support lupus research are Sentinel Media Company, Bug Country, 97.9/105.5 Kiss-FM and Talk of the Town – Utica, NY.


Visit mmri.edu for more information.