Apply now for rosacea research grants

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By Mark Dahl, MD

The National Rosacea Society (NRS) recently awarded funding for two new studies, in addition to continuing support for five ongoing studies, as part of its research grant program to increase knowledge and understanding of rosacea.

Each year, the NRS awards grants of $10,000 to $25,000 for research on rosacea. In terms of medical research, these may seem like relatively small grants. However, since the grants were first awarded in 2000, NRS grant recipients have often leveraged these small investments to make big advances, particularly with respect to pathogenesis.

In 2013, grants were awarded to: 

  • Anna Di Nardo, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego, to study whether mast cell products might help elicit inflammation and whether blocking the activity of mast cells in individuals with rosacea might alleviate inflammation; 
  • Yoshikazu Uchida, MD, research dermatologist, and Peter Elias, MD, professor of dermatology at the University of California-San Francisco, for further study of a biochemical pathway in the outer dead layer “barrier” of the skin that may lead to inflammation in the skin under it.

The NRS is also continuing to fund ongoing studies by: 

  • Meg Gerstenblith, MD, and Daniel Popkin, MD, at Case Western Reserve University about the incidence and severity of rosacea and its subsets in fraternal and identical twins to help better understand the role of heredity; 
  • Ulf Meyer-Hoffert, MD, and Thomas Schwartz, MD, at the University Clinic Schleswig-Holstein on inhibitors of proteolytic enzymes in skin that might contribute to the disease process; 
  • Barbara Summerer, MD, at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine on identifying new  specific microbes and biofilms in rosacea patients.

The deadline for submitting proposals is May 7, 2014. 

Grants for 56 studies have been awarded to date in such promising areas as the potential effects of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), innate antimicrobial peptides, neurogenic inflammation, Demodex mites, the immune system and other inflammatory pathways, as well as a potential diagnostic test for ocular rosacea. 

The grant program is supported by donations from individuals, and funds are available to researchers worldwide. As studies funded by the National Rosacea Society are completed, reports on results are published on its website at www.rosacea.org and in Rosacea Review, as well as in widely read, peer-reviewed journals.

As chairman of the NRS Medical Advisory Board, I review grant applications along with senior leaders in basic and clinical research. We tend to fund novel ideas from innovative people who have the skills and support necessary to meet their research objectives. 

Because the etiology of rosacea is unknown, high priority is given to research in such areas as the pathogenesis, progression, mechanism of action, cell biology, and potential genetic factors of this conspicuous and often life-disruptive condition. 

Studies may also be funded in such areas as epidemiology, predisposition, quality of life, and associations with environmental and lifestyle factors. Product development studies (e.g., drug or device testing) are more appropriately funded by commercial sources.

The NRS is now accepting applications for 2014. Researchers interested in applying for grants may obtain forms and instructions through the research grants section of the NRS website or by contacting the National Rosacea Society by phone at (888) 662-5874 or by email at info@rosacea.com. The deadline for submitting proposals in 2014 is May 7, 2014.

It’s amazing that we know so little about this  disorder. Rosacea affects more than 15 million Americans, and this research will drive advancements leading to better treatments and happier lives for affected patients.

Dr. Dahl is a past president of the American Academy of Dermatology and professor of dermatology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine at Mayo Clinic Arizona. He is a part of the AAD’s Patient Advocacy Task Force, is a physician representative in the Coalition for Skin Diseases, and is on the medical boards of both the National Rosacea Society and the National Eczema Association.

Email the Member to Member editor at members@aad.org.

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