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Unique partnership leads to life-changing treatment


Fifty years is considered the golden anniversary, often marked by celebrations and acclaim. This year, the IU School of Medicine is celebrating 50 years of a remarkable relationship between the School and the Scottish Rite Foundation of Indianapolis, one that has led to a life changing treatment for patients.

The relationship began in 1968, when physicians from the IU School of Medicine were seeking volunteers to participate in bone density studies. About one hour south of campus, they found willing participants at the Indiana Masonic Home in Franklin, Indiana, with Masons participating in the studies themselves. That early involvement inspired what would become a fifty-year relationship between the Scottish Rite (is a Masonic organization) and the IU School of Medicine.

Decade after decade, the Scottish Rite has remained committed, always with the ultimate goal of helping to reduce people’s suffering. Over the years, research progress continued and many important bone discoveries took place. The financial support from the Scottish Rite funded critical equipment, supplies, and research activities. Most importantly, their support provided certainty. When grants were delayed, or there was a new idea but no funding available, support from the Scottish Rite allowed IU School of Medicine bone research to move forward. Every single year.

Rodney Mann, the executive director of the Scottish Rite Foundation of Indianapolis guides his board on philanthropic decisions. “We’ve always believed in the bone research happening at IU and we’ve never wavered,” said Mann.  “We trust the researchers and the team. We know they are doing all they can to help people.”

Earlier this month, during their annual campus visit, the Scottish Rite Foundation Board of Directors learned their support helped bone research come full circle, from laboratory research to a new treatment for patients. This new treatment, Burosumab, was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration to treat people suffering from a rare type of bone disease, XHL, which causes a genetic form of rickets. Rickets is a condition that results in weak bones, often in children. Symptoms include bowed legs, stunted growth, bone pain.

“When this all started fifty years ago, I doubt early Scottish Rite members could contemplate the longevity or the impact this partnership would have. We couldn’t be any happier to see this outcome, a new drug that will directly help people,” said Mann.

Burosumab has been approved by both the FDA and the European Medicines Agency for use in children and adolescents with XHL. Research that began in a lab in Indiana will now make a truly global impact, and none of it would have been possible without donors like the Scottish Rite Foundation, which for fifty years has proven their weight in gold.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

IU School of Medicine

With more than 60 academic departments and specialty divisions across nine campuses and strong clinical partnerships with Indiana’s most advanced hospitals and physician networks, Indiana University School of Medicine is continuously advancing its mission to prepare healers and transform health in Indiana and throughout the world.