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  • 1 in 12 women...
  • ...are affected by autoimmune disease.
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Leading the Way Through Innovation and Discovery

Contribute to the Future of Autoimmune Disease Research

Join us in the search for cures and quest to improve the lives of those affected by autoimmune disease. Johns Hopkins led the studies which launched the modern era of research on autoimmune diseases, and continues to make strides in understanding these diseases and potential treatments.

For over 120 years, discovery has been at the core of Johns Hopkins Medicine, which has led to the most meaningful medical breakthroughs, and an unmatched integration of research, medical education and clinical care. Today, your support will assist us in making new discoveries and finding new treatments for those who suffer from autoimmune disease.  


Myositis Research at Johns Hopkins

Autoimmune Diseases Research at Johns Hopkins

Multiple Sclerosis Research at Johns Hopkins

What is an Autoimmune Disease?

Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue. Such conditions include multiple sclerosis, arthritis, myositis, scleroderma, lupus, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, among many others.

Autoimmune disorders affect an estimated 23.5 million Americans. That’s more than the number afflicted with cancer (9 million) or heart disease (up to 22 million). Researchers estimate one in 12 women and one in 20 men will develop some type of autoimmune disease in their lifetime. And the prevalence is rising.

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How Your Support Moves Our Research Forward

Johns Hopkins researchers innovate, collaborate and push boundaries to find new treatments and diagnostic tools to treat autoimmune disorders, including:

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Johns Hopkins researchers have zeroed in on a brain “progenitor cell”—a cell similar to a stem cell that can develop into a brain cell— that’s capable of regenerating myelin, the fatty substance that covers the nerves and is destroyed by MS. 

Among other recent discoveries, our researchers found that low levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased number of brain lesions and signs of a more active disease in people with MS. They have also used a cheap and simple retina scan to assess the amount of brain damage in people with MS; the scan also offers clues about how quickly the disease is progressing. The research suggests that inflammation associated with MS may not always be directed against myelin.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

In looking at the underlying factors of genetic risk in those who suffer from RA—which affects 1.5 million American adults—Johns Hopkins researchers have found a clear role for molecular “tags” that act as “switches” to regulate genes that cause the disease. By understanding which genes are important and how they get “turned on,” scientists hope to be able to develop more targeted, effective treatments for this devastating disease.

Transverse Myelitis (TM)

This condition involves inflammation of the spinal cord, which often affects the insulating material covering the nerve cells (myelin). This damage can then disrupt nerve signals, leading to pain or other sensory problems, weakness or paralysis of muscles, or bladder and bowel dysfunction.

Working out of what was the world’s first dedicated TM center, Johns Hopkins researchers are investigating combinations of drugs that can suppress the immune system activity that causes the inflammation. They are developing other strategies, including electrical stimulation of muscle groups and special exercises, to help patients recover more quickly from TM.


Affecting approximately 50,000 Americans, myositis occurs when a patient’s immune system attacks and destroys healthy muscle tissue by mistake. At the Johns Hopkins Myositis Center—one of the largest centers of its kind in the world—researchers have identified a new form of autoimmune muscle disease triggered by statin use in genetically susceptible patients.


This chronic autoimmune disorder may affect the skin, joints, kidneys, brain and other organs. Johns Hopkins has one of the largest lupus centers in the world, and has made important discoveries about lupus, its complications and its therapy, with a special focus on pregnancy, tissue damage and developing new therapies.

Help Make a Difference

With your support, Johns Hopkins researchers will never stop looking for better answers, better treatments and better discoveries. That’s the Promise of Medicine.

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