Compassion Corner: Understanding Autoimmune Diseases

This story was originally published in the August 2016 issue of Transforming Lives, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital newsletter.

An autoimmune disease is a condition in which a person’s immune system begins to attack healthy organs and cells.

There are more than 100 types of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and many more.

After the sudden diagnosis of Alexa Borroto with a rare autoimmune condition known as Adult On Set Still’s Disease (which led to a bilateral hip replacement at the age of 23), Alexa created the Be Brave Project within Fundación Bechara. Fundación Bechara is a nonprofit corporation in Puerto Rico that focuses on educating and empowering the community in specific areas of health. Be Brave’s mission is to educate the community about autoimmune diseases and provide support to biomedical research projects that will help identify trigger causes, innovative treatments, and possible cures for these chronic conditions.

To further its mission, Fundación Bechara and Be Brave partnered with Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) to support the Rheumatology Fund for Discovery and Innovation. So far, the foundation has donated $75,000 to BWH to advance medical discoveries in autoimmune diseases.

Biomedical research is critical as one in five Americans suffers from an autoimmune disease, and there are currently no cures. But thanks to partners like Fundación Bechara and the Be Brave initiative, BWH is working to uncover the next wave of discoveries, innovations, and breakthroughs in the field of autoimmune disease.