Biomarkers—“early predictors”—are lab tests that have the potential to drastically minimize the guesswork in diagnosing and treating lupus. They provide tools with which to peer into the immune system and witness the earliest indications of problems—from whether lupus is about to flare, or is responding to treatment.  

Biomarkers offer the possibility of answering such questions as

  • “Will I get sicker?”
  • “Are my kidneys all right? My heart?”
  • “Will my siblings or children get lupus?”
  • “Will a new drug work for me?”
  • “Will I ever feel better?”

“Biomarkers can take the guesswork out of treating lupus and help in creating a meaningful plan of action tailored to each person. They can also speed the development and approval of more effective and less toxic drugs.”

William E. Paul, MD
Chief, Laboratory of Immunology, NIAID-NIH
Chairman, LRI Scientific Board

No single biomarker has been accepted widely or used routinely for any aspect of lupus—in fact, because lupus develops and affects people so differently, it is highly unlikely that any single biomarker will provide all the answers for everyone, experts say.

Biomarkers may also hold the key to developing new drugs for lupus, for which none have been approved in nearly half a century.

“To know if a drug works, we have to assess how active the disease is and how that activity changes in response to the drug, If proven valid, the potential new biomarkers will stimulate drug companies to get in the game.”

Mary K. Crow, MD
Division of Rheumatology Associate Chief & Director of Rheumatology Research at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. 
Also an LRI researcher.

The LRI funds the largest number of private sector studies seeking lupus biomarkers:

Circulating Endothelial Cells, a Biomarker to Predict Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Patients with S.L.E.

Robert M. Clancy, PhD
New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY
Class of 2003/2004

Serum Protein Biomarkers for Disease Activity in Human S.L.E.

Timothy W. Behrens, MD
(previously at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN)
Class of 2005

Emily Baechler Gillespie, PhD
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Class of 2005

Anti-Lymphocyte Autoantibodies and Lymphocyte-Bound Complement Activation Products: New Allies as SLE Biomarkers

Chau-Ching Liu, MD, PhD
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, PA
Class of 2006

Autoantigen-Independent Control of Tissue Targeting in Lupus

Christopher A.J. Roman, PhD
State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY
Class of 2006

Role of Complement Receptor 2 in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Susan A. Boackle, MD
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO
Class of 2002

Biomarkers of Disease Flare in S.L.E. + 
Mechanism of Immune System Activation in S.L.E.

Mary K. Crow, MD
Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY 
2004 Biomarkers
Class of 2001

Biomarkers for Renal Remission in S.L.E.

Anne Davidson, MD
Feinstein Medical Research Institute, Manhasset, NY
Class of 2003/2004

Aberrant HDL as Biomarker for Heart Disease in S.L.E.

Bevra Hahn, MD
University of California at Los Angeles, CA
Class of 2003/2004

Endothelial Cell Death in Females with S.L.E.; Mechanisms and Associations with Premature Vascular Disease

Mariana J. Kaplan, MD
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Class of 2002

Expression and function of T cell-specific microRNAs in a murine SLE model

Marianthi Kiriakidou, MD
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Class of 2007

Reaction of Kidney Cells to Autoimmune Attack in Lupus Nephritis

Elahna Paul, MD, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
Class of 2003/2004

The Role of HMGB1 in the Pathogenesis of S.L.E.

David S. Pisetsky, MD, PhD
Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC
Class of 2003/2004

The Human Renal Target for Anti-DNA Antibodies

Chaim Putterman, MD
Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
Class of 2001

Prognostic Indicators in Lupus Nephritis

Hanno B. Richards, MD
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Class of 2002

Biomarkers of Blood Clotting in S.L.E. and APS

Robert A. S. Roubey, MD
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC
Class of 2004

The Role of EBCT in Identification of Premature Atherosclerosis in S.L.E. Patients: Association of Coronary Calcification with Traditional and Novel Cardiovascular Risk Factors

Joan Von Feldt, MD
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Clinical Trials Initiative Grant
Class of 2002

Evaluation of Therapeutic Targets for Systemic Autoimmunity

Edward Wakeland, PhD
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
Class of 2001

Identification of biomarkers in circulating blood cells that identify events in the molecular pathogenesis of S.L.E. nephritis

Robert Winchester, MD
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY
Class of 2004

Light Chain Editors and Autoimmunity +
The Regulation and Loss of Regulation of Anti-DNA B cells

Martin Weigert, PhD
University of Chicago, IL
Class of 2005

Urinary Biomarkers in Lupus Nephritis

Chandra Mohan, MD, PhD
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
Class of 2008
​Class of 2013

Chaim Putterman, MD
Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
Class of 2008

Joshua Thurman, MD
University of Colorado, Denver, CO
Class of 2009


Edith Janssen
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center - Research Foundation, OH
Class of 2015

Meggan Mackay, MD
The Feinstein Institute of Medical Research, NY
Class of 2012

Mark Walter, PhD
University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL
Class of 2015