Rheumatoid Arthritis Campaign Surpasses $30 Million Goal

The American College of Rheumatology Research and Education Foundation announced its Within Our Reach: Finding a Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis campaign has surpassed its initial $30 million fundraising goal and has already funded $24.4 million in RA research grants.

The campaign raised a total of $30,719,054 from 245 donors (making an average campaign gift of $125,384) with patients accounting for over $3 million.

"Reaching out to patients through this campaign was a first for the REF," explains REF President, E. William St.Clair, MD of the unique fundraising effort. "When we began this campaign five years ago, we were hopeful the pharmaceutical industry, biotech companies, and rheumatologists would support the effort, and we suspected the lay community would rally around it as well. We started with three commitments from the lay community totaling $361,000, and that rose to over 181 commitments totaling $3,037,924 confirming that people whose lives have been affected by RA were ready to see more money raised, and more research funded, in this area."

Grant Making Through Within Our Reach

"By the same token, we started the campaign with a template for a grants program that had the potential of advancing research in RA," explains Dr. St.Clair. To date, the Within Our Reach campaign has awarded 58 grants in support of RA research totaling $24.4 million, and the Foundation plans to award the final $6 million in support in the form of novel clinical trials (to be funded next fall). While awards are still being funded, the REF has already seen great success through this campaign, including:

-- The completion of 25 Within Our Reach projects

-- Twenty-four Within Our Reach researchers have been awarded an additional $59 million in related National Institutes of Health grants

-- NIH funding for arthritis research has increased by $87 million (this includes American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds)

-- Within Our Reach projects have been published in over 140 peer-reviewed journals

-- Within Our Reach researchers have given over 300 presentations on their RA research at scientific meetings world wide

Addressing a Need in Health Care Philanthropy

Rheumatoid arthritis is much more than aches and pains. It's a chronic, disabling and painful disease that can cause a number of health complications. In the United States alone, 1.3 million people suffer from this disease, which is known to strike in the prime of life and affect women two-to-three times more often than men.

"Several years ago, research funding for NIH and other domestic agencies started to slow, and trends were pointing toward continued decline; yet, research needed to continue as patients were depending on medical advancements and breakthroughs," says Dr. St.Clair. "With this knowledge along with the already existing disparity in medical research funding between RA and other diseases the REF decided to step in and create a grant program that was comparable to NIH major grant funding."

And, to do this, the REF needed to raise funds thus the creation of the Within Our Reach campaign.

Continuing the Campaign

This success is not the end of the campaign, but a launching pad for the REF to determine next steps, and the Foundation is already investigating ways to build on the momentum of Within Our Reach and continue fostering great science and collaboration in the research community.

"Just as research aimed at curing RA continues, so does the REF's commitment to funding that research," explains Dr. St.Clair. "The initial success of this campaign has reinvigorated RA research by accelerating the pace of discovery and creating new lines of scientific investigation, and it is important that the REF's work in this area continue."