The Sontag Foundation

Sontag Foundation supports the search for a cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis


She once swam competitively, but no longer could. She had difficulty doing the shopping for her family. Everyday pleasures were dulled by pain. The simplest movements required tremendous effort and concentration.


Joyce Sontag was a victim of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a debilitating, progressive autoimmune disease. She was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 35 and lived 37 long years fighting the disease’s progress in her body and in her life. Sadly, her family watched this decline without being given much hope for relief or remission, other than the treatment of symptoms.


Mrs. Sontag was hospitalized at the Long Beach Memorial Medical Center when she died from complications of rheumatoid arthritis in 1993. The treatments she received for RA from the late 1950s to the 1990s often had more negative side effects than positive effects for pain relief. The disease spread beyond the joints to other organs. Gradually, Mrs. Sontag became more and more debilitated, suffering acute weight loss and spinal column degeneration.




Watching Mrs. Sontag’s decline took its toll on her family, too. As a result, her son, Rick Sontag, his wife, Susan Thomas Sontag, and their children decided to establish the Sontag Foundation to support arthritis research.


thesontagsHaving no scientific expertise, the family began to search for a way to support RA research. While searching the Internet for organizations supporting rheumatoid arthritis research, daughter Cindy Sontag found the Long Beach-based Arthritis National Research Foundation.ANRF has a Scientific Advisory Board comprised of world-renowned scientists, including three past presidents of the American College of Rheumatology. Each year, the Scientific Advisory Board reviews each grant proposal and provides a priority ranking list to advise the ANRF Board of Directors in making its decisions.


The Sontag family was impressed with the prestige of the Scientific Board and the commitment of the ANRF Board of Directors to funding this critical research.


They completed extensive research of the ANRF’s activities and mission, then reviewed the actual grants recommended for funding to match their particular interest in rheumatoid arthritis research.


Initially, the family chose to fund a special fellowship awarded to Mireille Delhase, Ph.D. of the University of California, San Diego. As the recipient of the Sontag Foundation Fellowship of the ANRF, Dr. Delhase not only received a generous grant, but also the honor of knowing that the Sontag family has taken a personal interest in her work and career.


Every year since 2001, this generous foundation has partnered with the ANRF to sponsor “The Sontag Foundation Fellow.”



Arthritis National Research Foundation
Sontag Foundation Fellows

Name (year of award) Institution City/State
Shahla Abdollahi-Roodaz, PhD (2015-16) New York University School of Medicine New York, NY
Susan Carpenter, PhD (2014-15) University of California Santa Cruz, CA
George Kalliolias (2013-14) Hospital for Special Surgery New York, NY
Lisa Peterson, PhD (2012-13) National Jewish Health Denver, CO
Iannis Adamopoulos, DPhil (2011-12) University of California, Davis Davis, CA
Joyce Wu, PhD (2010-11) Harvard Medical School Boston, MA
Richard Di Paolo, PhD (2009-10) Saint Louis University St. Louis, MO
Shiva Shahrara, PhD (2008-09) Northwestern University Chicago, IL
Sougata Karmakar, PhD (2007-08) University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester, MA
Nicole Walsh, PhD (2006-07) University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester, MA
Xueding Wang, PhD (2005-06) University of Michigan School of Medicine Ann Arbor, MI
Jon Giles, MD (2004-05) Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
Vyacheslav Adarichev, PhD (2003-04) Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center Chicago, IL
Monica Schaller, PhD (2002-03) The Scripps Research Institute La Jolla, CA
Mireille Delhase, PhD (2001-02) University of California, San Diego La Jolla, CA

Each year, ANRF receives a new record number of grant applications.

The Sontag Foundation continues to review each year’s top grant recipients to provide their support of RA research again.


Having the opportunity to help science progress toward a cure is a personal gift.

Each new discovery by one of the scientists supported by ANRF brings us one step closer to making these diseases a thing of the past. The generosity and commitment of individuals, such as the Sontag family, allows this life-changing research to continue.


(Article reprinted in part from the Long Beach Press-Telegram, 4-18-2002)