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Dr. Ashutosh Mangalam receives a major gift from Ms. Margaret Heppelmann and Mr. Michael G. Wacek to study the role of natural versus synthetic progesterone in modulating immune responses

Dr. Ashutosh Mangalam Autoimmune diseases affect millions of people in the United States. According to estimates from the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, there are over 50 million Americans living with autoimmune diseases, which translates to 1 in 5 people. Over the past few decades, there has been a significant increase in the incidence of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease in Western countries. A number of factors have been linked to the increased incidence of autoimmune diseases, including diet, microbiota and environmental toxins. Over the past twenty years, Ms. Margaret (Peggy) Heppelmann has actively pursued a personal course of study regarding factors contributing to the rise of chronic inflammatory diseases in Western countries, especially among young females. A key aspect revealed by her review is the dearth of scientific inquiry into this area due to a lack of funding. Peggy hopes that by establishing this fund, Dr. Mangalam’s research will provide a new perspective on underlying factors contributing to the increased incidence of these chronic diseases.

Dr. Mangalam's research is focused on understanding the role of genetic and environmental factors linked with susceptibility and resistance to multiple sclerosis (MS). The current project will determine whether synthetic progestins can induce proinflammatory immune responses utilizing human biospecimens as well as a preclinical model of MS. Additionally, the project will test whether progesterone is required for the disease protective ability of natural of dietary estrogens.

The gift includes four years of funding and totals $900,000. The research will be conducted in collaboration with Dr. Terry Wahls in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Carver College of Medicine.

Thursday, May 11, 2023