Grammy Award Winner Patti LaBelle Is Featured Entertainer at Lupus Foundation of America Awards Gala

Soledad O'Brien to be Master Of Ceremonies

Honorees Recognized for Bringing Attention and Resources to Lupus

Fifth Annual Awards Gala, May 7, 2008

WASHINGTON, May 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Grammy Award-winning artist Patti La Belle will be the featured entertainer when the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) honors U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, (D-Iowa), Sheila C. Johnson, CEO of Salamander Hospitality, LLC, and Elliott Sigal, M.D., Ph.D., President of Research and Development, Executive Vice President, and Chief Scientific Officer of Bristol-Myers Squibb for their efforts to bring national attention and resources to lupus, an autoimmune disease that affects 1.5 million Americans. The awards will be presented May 7 during the LFA's Fifth Annual Awards Gala at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Washington DC. CNN Anchor and Special Correspondent Soledad O'Brien will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

Presenting the awards will be U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, (R-Pa.); Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health; and Sally Susman, Senior Vice President & Chief Communications Officer, Pfizer Inc. Notable guests will include Angela Burt-Murray, Editor-in-Chief, Essence Magazine; Randall Winston, Executive Producer, "Scrubs," and a LFA Board Member, and Mercedes Yvette, 2004 Runner-up, America's Next Top Model.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Dr. Annette Shelby and Congressman John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Debbie Dingell are the 2008 Honorary Chairs of the gala, which this year has raised more than $1.4 million for lupus research and education programs. U.S. Senator Robert Bennett (R-Utah), Congressman Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) and Leslie Meek, Esq. are the Honorary Congressional Committee Chairs.

Other members of Congress and Congressional staff, national corporate leaders, federal officials, national women's and health organization representatives, research scientists, and individuals with lupus are among the expected 600 guests.

Richard H. Cooper of the Cooperfund, Inc., is serving as event chair for the 2008 gala, leading a gala committee of 50 individuals and corporate philanthropists to raise funds for LFA programs.

Lupus is a chronic disease in which the immune system attacks the body's own healthy tissue and organs, which can lead to debilitating pain, organ failure, and death. More than five million people worldwide have lupus. The disease strikes mostly young women in the prime of their lives, and disproportionately strikes young women of color, especially African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asians -- a health disparity that remains unexplained.

Despite the prevalence of lupus, there has not been a new treatment approved for the disease for more than four decades.

The Lupus Foundation of America is the nation's foremost national nonprofit voluntary health organization dedicated to finding the causes of and a cure for lupus, and providing support and services to all people affected by lupus. The LFA conducts programs of research, education advocacy.

SOURCE Lupus Foundation of America

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