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Scleroderma Foundation Holds Gateway to Hope 2009 National Patient Education Conference in St. Louis, Mo.

DANVERS, Mass., July 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The Scleroderma Foundation, the nation's leading non-profit supporter of scleroderma research, is holding the Gateway to Hope 2009 National Patient Education Conference July 17-19, 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri. Scleroderma, an autoimmune disease without a known cure, affects an estimated 300,000 people in the U.S., making it as common as multiple sclerosis. Scleroderma causes collagen to build up in the tissues of the skin and in internal organs, hardening them and leading to potentially fatal consequences.

The Gateway to Hope Conference helps patients and their families from all over the U.S. learn how to better cope with the physical and emotional challenges of living with scleroderma from the nation's foremost experts on the disease. This year's Conference will have a greater focus on juvenile scleroderma than in the past, incorporating more workshops aimed at helping younger patients deal with the disease. The Conference will also feature workshops on the latest treatments, like stem cell transplantation therapy, and provide scleroderma patients with a chance to build a supportive network of other patients from across the country.

"Every year I look forward to the National Conference as a chance to learn about the latest treatments and to come together with other patients," said Mary Blades, President of the Foundation's Missouri Chapter. "This year I am excited to be able to welcome scleroderma patients from across the country to my own community."

Two prominent scleroderma clinician researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Richard Brasington, M.D. and Murali Chakinala, M.D., will be presenting at the Conference. Dr. Brasington, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology will participate in the "Stem Cell Transplantation Panel" and lead a workshop on clinical trials, helping patients understand the clinical trial process and whether it is right for them. Dr. Chakinala, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine will be presenting a grand lecture on pulmonary arterial hypertension as well as a workshop on lung transplantation.

Heather Hawk, a national health and fitness correspondent for television and radio and host of the Charter Network's "Smart Living" television program, will present a workshop on juvenile fitness for young scleroderma patients and their families.

About the Gateway to Hope National Patient Education Conference

The Scleroderma Foundation's 2009 National Patient Education Conference is made possible in part by unrestricted educational grants from Actelion Pharmaceuticals US, Inc. (2009 National Silver Sponsor), Pfizer, Inc. (Silver Conference Sponsor), and Gilead Sciences, Inc.(Bronze Conference Sponsor). Scholarships to attend the Conference for scleroderma patients with a demonstrated financial need were provided in part by MediQuest Therapeutics, Inc.

The Conference is presented each year by the Scleroderma Foundation in different major cities across the U.S., and is the largest patient-oriented conference in the world dedicated to scleroderma and related diseases. It attracts scleroderma patients and their families from across the country as well as from Canada, Mexico, and several European nations.

To learn more about the Conference please go to

About the Scleroderma Foundation

Headquartered in Danvers, Mass., the Scleroderma Foundation is the nation's largest patient organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for patients with scleroderma. The Foundation's 22 chapters and over 170 support groups nationwide carry out its threefold mission of support, education and research.

To learn more about the Foundation and see patient and physician interviews click here.

SOURCE Scleroderma Foundation
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