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Star-Studded Cool Comedy - Hot Cuisine Event Raises Over $1 Million For Scleroderma Research

NEW YORK, Dec. 17, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- At the annual Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine New York gala, comedians, celebrities and supporters raised over $1 million for scleroderma research, a complex autoimmune disease that disproportionately affects women, usually striking in the prime of their lives. Bob Saget, an SRF board member who lost his sister to scleroderma, hosted the New York comedy gala on Dec. 11th to benefit the Scleroderma Research Foundation (SRF).

Saget was joined in the fundraising effort by comedians Michael Che, Andy Cohen, John Oliver, Jeff Ross, and special musical guest, Jackson Browne.

SRF is America's first and leading nonprofit investor in medical research to find improved therapies and a cure for people living with scleroderma. Since its founding in 1987 by patient and fierce advocate, the late Sharon Monsky, the foundation has raised over $49 million to fund critical research. As put best by Monsky: "I could organize a support group to help people in my community living with scleroderma or I could establish an organization that would bring the best of science and technology together in an effort to discover better treatments and a cure for people everywhere living with scleroderma. It wasn't easy, but I chose the latter."

Since its founding, the SRF has taken a collaborative approach, bringing together some of the brightest minds in science to unravel the mystery of this complex autoimmune disease. The word scleroderma literally means "hard skin," but the disease is much more, often affecting the internal organs with lethal consequences. In some cases, the joints and muscles are affected, resulting in severe pain and limited mobility. Vascular damage due to scleroderma can result in loss of fingers, toes and entire limbs—but the most serious complications involve the lungs and kidneys. Now, the SRF donates approximately 84% of its annual revenue to funding the most promising scleroderma research initiatives.

The success of Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine events held in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco has raised considerable awareness for scleroderma and enabled the SRF to fund innovative research bringing hope and helping to improve the quality of life for patients living with this debilitating disease. Last week's gala marked 31 years of Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine events, with Robin Williams being one of the first comedians to perform in 1987, and subsequently returning to perform seven times throughout his life.

The Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine event featured performances by some of the biggest names in comedy. Celebrity chefs/restaurateurs Susan Feniger (also an SRF Board Member) and Mary Sue Milliken, Food Network's Too Hot Tamales and both Bravo Top Chef Masters, prepared the multi-course "Hot Cuisine." There was a live auction featuring unique packages such as a weekend VIP trip to the 2019 Montreal Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, and a unique, in-home dinner prepared by Celebrity Chefs Elizabeth Falkner, Amanda Cohen, and Anita Lo. The auction raised over $160,000 for the SRF and the scleroderma research it supports.

More about Scleroderma and the Scleroderma Research Foundation:

The symptoms and severity of scleroderma vary from one person to another and the course of the disease is often unpredictable. Women are disproportionately affected with scleroderma (representing four out of five patients), usually striking in the prime of their lives, between the ages of 20 and 50; however, children and men of all ages and across all ethnic boundaries can also be affected.

Today, there is no way to prevent scleroderma and there is no cure. Treatments are available for some but not all of the most dangerous complications. The continued success of the Scleroderma Research Foundation is entirely dependent upon charitable gifts from individuals and corporations.

Dr. Fredrick Wigley, Director of the Johns Hopkins Scleroderma Center, which was launched with SRF funding and continues to grow with Foundation support, states in the volunteer-produced Project Scleroderma documentary: "The SRF has made an incredible difference, and I am absolutely convinced that, with the right support, there is nothing that can't be done."

The SRF was established in San Francisco in 1987 by scleroderma patient, the late Sharon Monsky, with a passionate commitment that lives on today: to use the power of collaborative medical research to advance a cure for scleroderma. Now chaired by Luke Evnin, Ph.D., managing partner of MPM Capital, a dedicated investor in life sciences, the Foundation is enabling scientists from leading institutions across the nation and around the world to work together and develop an understanding of how the disease begins, how it progresses and what can be done to slow, halt or reverse the disease process. In addition to Bob Saget and Susan Feniger, the board of directors includes Sharon Dobie, Eric Kau, David Knoller, Violetta Merin, Deann Wright, and Caryn Zucker.

For 30 years, through the generosity of its donors and support from events likes Cool Comedy - Hot Cuisine, the Scleroderma Research Foundation has raised more than $48 million dollars to fund ground-breaking research taking place at top universities such as Johns Hopkins, Stanford and UCSF. 

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Last Updated: 17-Dec-2018