In 2015, Selena Gomez revealed that she is battling lupus. Since then, she's brought much-needed attention to the disease, especially when she took time off in 2016 after facing anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, which are all side effects of lupus. Today, People reports that Gomez took a huge step towards finding new treatments for the disease by donating to the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. The money will be the start of the Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research, which will focus on research that will look into complications and side effects that come from lupus.
"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," Gomez said in a statement. "I am hopeful for the millions of us around the world that may benefit from this."
Gomez's fund will support a program headed by Janos Peti-Peterdi, MD, PhD, professor of physiology and biophysics at USC. According to People, Gomez hopes that the research will lay the groundwork for "targeted therapeutic treatment breakthroughs."
"We are extremely pleased to partner with Selena in her efforts to promote awareness and medical research toward a much-needed cure for lupus," Dr. Peti-Peterdi said in a statement. "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."
By bringing attention to lupus and actually working with researchers and doctors to find new treatments and therapies, Gomez is adding the autoimmune disease to everyday discussions about health and wellness. Whereas lupus was once a little-known disease, celebrities like Gomez and Nick Cannon, who spent two weeks in the hospital due to complications from lupus, are helping those dealing with it feel less alone and stigmatized.