Research

Australian Scleroderma Interest Group

The Australian Scleroderma Interest Group (ASIG) is a collaboration of rheumatologists who operate multidisciplinary scleroderma centres around Australia. They aim to improve the outcomes of people with scleroderma through a screening program for the heart and lung complications of scleroderma. They undertake a comprehensive research program for aspects of the diseases, based on the Australian Scleroderma Cohort Study.

the number 6000

Scleroderma affects 6,000 Australians.

drawing of hand, lung and heart

Scleroderma causes hardening of skin and failure of internal organs.

drawing of 8 people

Women are 7 times more likely to develop scleroderma than men, but the condition can be even more severe in men.

Drawing of sunflower with petals coming off

Scleroderma shortens life expectancy, with 23 years of life lost in women and 26 years of life lost in men.

Drawing of heart and lungs

Heart-lung involvement is the major cause of premature death in scleroderma.

Sad and happy on a scale

Scleroderma reduces quality of life and ability to work. Individuals with scleroderma on average retire 15 years before their healthy population peers.

Graph with lung involvement

Individuals with scleroderma who are screened for heart-lung complications at specialised clinics are treated earlier and have better outcomes.

$64 million

Scleroderma is a costly condition, with hospitalisations, emergency presentations, medical and allied health consultations costing around AUD $64 million per year.

$44 million

An additional cost of around AUD $44 million per year results from loss of income due to reduced work capacity.

Orange map of Australia

Australia is at the forefront of international research in scleroderma – studies by the Australian Scleroderma Interest Group (ASIG) have led to better care and outcomes for people living with scleroderma.

expert team

Structure of ASIG

Associate Professor Susanna Proudman chairs the Executive Committee. It is under the auspices of the Australian Rheumatology Association (ARA).

Dr Mandy Nikpour
A/Prof Mandana Nikpour

(Rheumatology Vic)

Dr Wendy Stevens
Dr Wendy Stevens

(Rheumatology Vic)

Dr Joanne Sahhar
Dr Joanne Sahhar

(Rheumatology Vic)

Prof Susanna Proudman
Prof Susanna Proudman

(Rheumatology SA)

Membership of the ASIG Executive Committee is open to one physician from each screening centre. Additional members with special skills are co-opted on the Executive Committee as needed.

For more information, or to contact ASIG or email:  asig.project@svhm.org.au

Scleroderma Research

The cause or causes of scleroderma are unknown. Scientists and medical investigators work to understand the condition. We support a coordinated approach to research for the cause and treatment of scleroderma. We do this through our research program funded by member states, corporate and individual sponsors.

  • 1. Implementation and feasibility testing of the new Australian Scleroderma Interest Group algorithm for pulmonary arterial hypertension screening. ASIG has published a new screening algorithm for PAH

  • 1. Prospective validation of the ASIG PAH screening algorithm One of ASIG’s key activities is the Australian Scleroderma Screening Program for early identification of heart and lung complications, suc

  • Assoc. Prof  Peter Yousef  – Department of Rheumatology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital  Subject: The utility of biomarkers of interstitial lung disease in systemic sclerosis Continuation of ASIG