Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University
Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Department of Dermatology & Cutaneous Biology

Joan & Joel Rosenbloom Research Center for Fibrotic Diseases

The Joan & Joel Rosenbloom Center for Fibrotic Diseases is an interdepartmental research center focusing on diagnosis, pathomechanisms, prevention and treatment of fibrotic diseases. The Center acts as a bridge to translate basic findings into clinical utility particularly with respect to novel drug therapies. The Center also acts as a bridge between departments, both basic and clinical, to bring together studies on fibrosis.

It is estimated that as much as 40% of the mortality in Western developed countries, including the U.S., is due to a group of conditions known as fibrotic diseases. Collectively, these fibrotic diseases are more frequent than cancer or vascular disease. They consist of systemic diseases such as Systemic Sclerosis or Scleroderma in which multiple organs are affected, or those instances in which an individual organ is affected, such as the lung, liver, kidneys or heart. Collectively, given the wide variety of affected organs, the chronic nature of the fibrotic processes and the large number of individuals suffering their devastating effect, these diseases pose one of the most serious health threats in current medicine and serious economic burden to society. Despite these considerations there is currently no accepted effective treatment.

The Center was established in 2013 to meet this need. The present challenges facing fibrotic disease in terms of therapy bear some similarities to those in cancer treatment. The treating physicians are confronted with complex pathogenic processes which although similar in their final outcome, are quite diverse in specific molecular mechanisms. Thus, identifying critical targets and appropriate effective therapies is extremely difficult. Owing to the diversity of the fibrotic diseases, novel screening approaches are required to characterize and identify particular pathways in individual cases. Creating useful screening assays is an important goal of the Center. A second major difficulty is the lack of suitable surrogate parameters capable of measuring the effectiveness of novel therapeutic agents. Identifying such biomarkers is also an important goal of the Center. Presently, there are numerous drugs which are attractive therapeutic candidates based largely on in vitro evidence from laboratory studies and supportive animal experimental findings, although they have not been appropriately tested in controlled clinical studies.