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Identifying the Genetic Underpinnings of Gender Differences in Rheumatoid Arthritis
CHORI Scientist Garners Josephine B. Rich Memorial Fellow Award from Arthritis National Research Foundation

November, 2012 – CHORI is pleased to announce that CHORI Assistant Scientist Damini Jawaheer, PhD, is one of 10 recipients of a 2012 Arthritis National Research Foundation (ANRF) Grant Award, and has been given the additional honor of being selected as the 2012 Josephine B. Rich Memorial Fellow. The ANRF is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to funding the research that will eventually lead to discovering the causes, treatments, preventions and cures for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other autoimmune diseases.

“I feel really honored to have my work funded by the ANRF and to be selected as the 2012 Josephine B. Rich Memorial Fellow,” says Dr. Jawaheer. “I was especially moved when a member of the ANRF who herself has had RA for many years called me on the phone to tell me that my project was going to be funded and how the work we propose to do is important to her.”

“I feel really honored to have my work funded by the ANRF and to be selected as the 2012 Josephine B. Rich Memorial Fellow.”


Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic systemic inflammatory disease with autoimmune features that affects approximately 1 percent of the adult world population. It is one of the leading causes of chronic impairment worldwide, contributing largely to the global burden of disease. The ANRF funded Dr. Jawaheer's research on the strength of her proposal for her project on gender differences in RA.
“Gender is the strongest risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis, with women having at least a three-fold increased risk for RA over men.”
"Gender is the strongest risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis, with women having at least a three-fold increased risk for RA over men," says Dr. Jawaheer. "In spite of this, previous genome-wide association studies aimed at finding genetic risk factors in RA did not investigate gender-specific effects."

Dr. Jawaheer's research focuses on differences in disease features, treatment responses and genetic predisposition to RA, between men and women with the disease. In particular, the grant funded by the ANRF seeks to identify genetic loci that influence the risk for developing RA in a gender-specific manner.

"We hypothesize that at least some genetic loci may have differential effects on RA risk in men and women. Although the associated genetic variants at such loci are the same in
men and women, conserved gender-specific regulatory differences can lead to gender -specific risk for RA," explains Dr. Jawaheer.

The ANRF will fund Dr. Jawaheer’s research project entitled, “Gender-Specific Genetic Associations in Rheumatoid Arthritis,” for one year.

“By focusing on the genetic underpinnings of the gender differences, we may be able to identify the specific disease mechanisms that are different between women and men,” says Dr. Jawaheer. “This could eventually help us develop gender-specific prognosis and treatment of RA.”

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