Singer and actress Selena Gomez made a donation to the Keck School of Medicine of USC to support lupus research. While the singer has been a longtime advocate for health programs and research, this is her first donation for efforts in relation to lupus research at USC.

She created the fund, called the “Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research,” that will initially support a pilot research program focused on treating complications of lupus, led by Janos Peti-Peterdi, MD, PhD, professor of physiology and biophysics at the Keck School.

“I continue to be optimistic about the progress being made in lupus research and am proud to support the promising work at Keck School of Medicine. I am hopeful for the millions of us around the world that may benefit from this,” Gomez said.

In 2015, Gomez revealed she was diagnosed with lupus. In August, she told People magazine, “As many of you know, around a year ago I revealed that I have lupus, an illness that can affect people in different ways. I’ve discovered that anxiety, panic attacks and depression can be side effects of lupus, which can present their own challenges.”

The research program potentially lays the foundation for targeted therapeutic treatment breakthroughs. This is a collaborative effort between Peti-Peterdi and Chaim Jacob, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at the Keck School, who specializes in lupus research.

“We are extremely pleased to partner with Selena in her efforts to promote awareness and medical research toward a much-needed cure for lupus,” Peti-Peterdi said. “Complications from systemic lupus cause serious damage, and we are hopeful that our research, with Selena’s support, will help those affected by this disease lead full, healthy lives.”

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that triggers inflammation in different tissues of the body. Autoimmune diseases happen when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. The most common type of lupus is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which affects different parts of the body including internal organs.

It affects more than 1.5 million Americans and more than 5 million people worldwide. Currently there is no cure for lupus.