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Every year at ACR Convergence, the Sjögren’s Foundation recognizes top investigators for their exceptional research in Sjögren’s with the Foundation’s Outstanding Abstract Award. We were impressed by the number and quality of Sjögren’s-related research abstracts presented at ACR Convergence this year and would like to congratulate all abstract authors who had their remarkable work accepted.

The Outstanding Abstract Award is chosen by a panel of distinguished professionals, and we would like to thank them for reviewing and providing feedback on the abstracts. With more than 60 Sjögren’s- related abstracts this year, it was difficult to determine a single winner,- so the Foundation and Committee decided to award not only the Outstanding Abstract Award but two honorable mention awards as well.

Outstanding Abstract Award Winner- Maxwell Parker

This year’s winner of the Outstanding Abstract Award went to Maxwell Parker, an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health working in the lab of Sara McCoy, MD, PhD. His winning abstract was titled, Novel Autoantibodies Might Circumvent the Need for Labial Biopsy in a Subset of Seronegative Sjögren’s Disease Patients.

The purpose of this work was to identify novel autoantibodies to non-invasively diagnose anti-SSA negative Sjögren’s patients (SSA- SjD). They used a high density whole human peptide array to quantify IgG binding to peptides in the sera from SSA- SjD patients. They selected 15 of the highest bound peptides to validate using an independent cohort of age-, sex-, and race- matched subjects that included  SSA- SjD patients (n=76), sicca controls (n=41), and autoimmune controls (n=75). They found two peptides, D-aminoacyl-tRNA deacylase 2 (DTD2) and retroelement silencing factor 1 (RESF1), were bound to IgG more than in SSA- SjD than in both sicca and autoimmune controls. They used prediction models to determine if they could predict focal score (FS) based on peptide signature. Their regression model with clinical variables showed good discrimination between FS positive and FS negative patients when using DTD2 and RESF1. Overall, they discovered the novel autoantibodies, DTD2 and RESF1, in SSA- SjD patients and their value in predicting abnormal FS score on a labial salivary gland biopsy.

Though Maxwell was unable to attend the luncheon in person, Dr. McCoy accepted the award on his behalf. This work has also been published in open-source.

Dr. Sara McCoy accepting the Foundation's Outstanding Abstract Award on behalf of Maxwell Parker

Above: Dr. Sara McCoy accepting the Outstanding Abstract Award for her undergraduate student, Maxwell Parker.

Honorable Mention Abstract Award Winner- José Miguel Sequí-Sabater, MD, MSc

Dr. Sequí-Sabater is a doctoral candidate at the University of Córdoba and a rheumatology medical resident at Hospital Universitari de la Ribera. His winning abstract was titled, The Inflammatory Proteome in Sjögren’s Identifies New Biomarkers and Relevant Clinical Subgroups.

The purpose of his work is to characterize the circulating inflammatory profile of Sjögren’s patients to identify new biomarkers and distinctive clinical subgroups. They analyzed 92 inflammation-related serum proteins from a multicenter cohort of Sjögren’s patients (n=89) using innovative Proximity Extension Assay technology in parallel with obtaining a comprehensive clinical profile. Three subgroups of patients were identified based on their inflammatory proteome profile using unsupervised clustering analysis and these subgroups mirrored their clinical characteristics. Cluster 1 had the most inflammatory profile, which corresponded to a higher prevalence of interstitial lung disease, arthritis, and had a higher ESSDAI activity index, whereas Cluster 3 had the lowest prevalence of symptoms. The clusters also had 43 differentially expressed proteins that correlated with clinical findings scored within ESSDAI and highlighted their potential use as biomarkers of disease activity.

Dr. José Miguel Sequí-Sabater, the Sjögren's Foundation's honorable mention winner for ACR Convergence 2023, presenting his work

Above: Dr. José Miguel Sequí-Sabater presenting his work that was awarded honorable mention for the Foundation's Outstanding Abstract Award.

Honorable Mention Abstract Award Winner- Andreas Goules, MD

     Dr. Andreas Goules is an assistant professor at the University of Athens School of Medicine in the Department of Pathophysiology. His winning abstract was titled, Evolution of Lymphoma Predictors in Primary Sjögren’s  by Data Driven Analysis in Harmonized Patients.

     His work aimed to study the evolution of lymphoma predictors towards lymphoproliferation by employing data drive analysis on Sjögren’s patients. Harmonized datasets from a multicenter cohort of Sjögren’s patients were analyzed for lymphoma predictors at two timepoints before a lymphoma diagnosis. The datasets contained 30 clinical features of disease that were determined at Sjögren’s diagnosis and then 3-4 years prior to lymphoma diagnosis. They performed fast correlation-based factor (FCBF) multivariate logistic regression analysis and found five prominent features that were identified as potential lymphoma predictors at the time of Sjögren’s diagnosis, including rheumatoid factor (RF), cryoglobulinemia, ACA pattern, ESSDAI score ≥5, and lacrimal gland enlargement. RF was the only independent lymphoma predictor determined. Further analysis showed that the second timepoint of 3-4 years prior to lymphoma diagnosis had three prominent features- RF, ESSDAI score ≥5, and ACA pattern. RF and ESSDAI score ≥5 were independent lymphoma risk factors in Sjögren’s patients. Overall, RF is the earliest and more persistent lymphoma predictor associated with Sjögren’s while in combination with ESSDAI score ≥5 can predict occurrence of lymphoma 3-4 years prior to lymphoma diagnosis.

Andreas Goules accepts honorable mention for the Sjögren's Foundations' Outstanding Abstract Award

Above: Dr. Andreas Goules accepting his honorable mention for the Foundation's Outstanding Abstract Award.

Congratulations again to our Outstanding Abstract Award winners! To view the winning abstracts, please visit: