The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation thanked the “stars” shining on lupus this week with two celebrity happenings that spotlighted national attention on the little-understood disease.

Lady Gaga's parents Joe and Cynthia Germanotta opened a NYC restaurant aptly named “Joanne Trattoria” in honor of Joe’s sister Joanne who died of lupus at age 19. And while restaurant guests chose from a menu including one of Joanne’s favorites, TV viewers at home learned about lupus in this week’s episode of the popular show Royal Pains.

Lupus is a chronic, complex and serious autoimmune disease affecting more than 1.5 million Americans. Nine out of 10 people with lupus are women, and like Joanne, most are young, diagnosed between ages 15-45. Yet lupus also affects men, as highlighted effectively by Royal Pains Dr. Hank Lawson’s diagnosis of his friend Jack with lupus and a dangerous manifestation affecting his kidneys.

“’What’s lupus?’ is not an uncommon question when talking about a disease with vague symptoms that can take years to diagnose,” noted S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Executive Director Margaret Dowd. “Attention in the media like lupus received tonight encourages people to tell their doctor about symptoms they might ordinarily dismiss such as fatigue and joint pain. Also, the touching tribute by the Germanotta family models the kind of loving support people living with any chronic disease might hope for.”

The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation was formed by such a family, the Golicks, 42 years ago. “My daughter Susan was just 24 when diagnosed and I felt she shouldn’t suffer alone,” Morrie Golick says.

The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation has since become the nation’s preeminent nonprofit organization providing direct services, education and public awareness as well as raising funding for novel, innovative lupus research through their Lupus Research Institute (LRI). Families and friends of people with lupus are still passionate leaders of the Foundation, and thousands of supporters throughout the country help champion their cause. With its roots in New York, the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation continues to serve as the cornerstone of comprehensive care in all five boroughs in the continuous battle for a Life Without Lupus.

“Made possible by a recent grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the LRI just launched a global research initiative to find the root causes of lupus that can lead to a cure,” said Susan. “What seemed like a dream to my family many years ago — a way to stop this disease — is now within reach, on its way to becoming a reality.”

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