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Press Release

December 8, 2008

Joyce Weidler, Managing Director
American Skin Association

American Skin Association Announces 2009 Research Scholar Awards; Research Seeks Treatment, Cures for Skin Disorders Affecting 100 Million Americans and Costing $37 Billion Annually

New York, December 8 - American Skin Association (ASA) announced today its 2009 Research Scholar Awards to four promising investigators conducting research in the causes, prevention, and treatment of skin diseases and cancers. The grants support new discoveries in basic and clinical sciences, which should advance the understanding and treatment of skin diseases. ASA is a volunteer-led organization that provides public support for research, education, prevention, and treatment of skin disorders and cancers.

"We are delighted to support these scientists as they continue important research that can make a positive difference in the lives of the 100 million Americans living with skin disorders," said George W. Hambrick, Jr., M.D., founder and president, American Skin Association. "Their work supports the mission of ASA to save lives and alleviate human suffering caused by the full spectrum of skin disorders."

More than one in three Americans suffer from skin disorders, which strike men and women of all ages, all races, and all economic levels. Many skin disorders, including severe burns and cancers, can be fatal. Skin cancer, which accounts for half of all new cancer diagnoses, is now the fastest-rising form of cancer. On an annual basis, skin disorders of all kinds cost the nation more than $37 billion in medical treatment and lost worker productivity.

"Rates of melanoma are on the rise and the disease is as deadly as it has ever been," commented Howard P. Milstein, chairman, American Skin Association. "The research supported by ASA can lead to a breakthrough treatments for melanoma and other serious disorders."

The $60,000 to $75,000 Research Scholar Awards were presented to the following investigators for work in their areas of interest:

  • Melanoma/Skin Cancer - Emily Bernstein, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Oncological Services and Dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Her focus is on the epigenetic regulation of gene expression in multiple biological pathways including cancer and stem cell biology, which includes mechanisms that alter the chromatin template, such as histone modifications, histone variants, and non-coding RNAs.
  • Psoriasis/Inflammatory Skin Disorders - Johann E. Gudjonsson, M.D., Ph.D., is Lecturer at University of Michigan's Department of Dermatology. His focus is basic immunological and genetic research on psoriasis, with projects directed at improving the diagnosis and treatment of psoriasis.
  • Melanoma/Skin Cancer - Yu-Ying He, Ph.D., is Instructor of Medicine at University of Chicago. Her interest is in the molecular mechanisms in skin carcinogenesis induced by environmental exposure and the development of chemopreventive and therapeutic strategies to reduce the skin cancer burden.
  • Acne - Jenny Kim, M.D., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles. Her interest is in translational medicine, bringing scientific results from the bench to the bedside. She is studying innate immunity in skin diseases in order to develop novel therapies.

Both general donations to ASA and restricted gifts from the Carson Family Charitable Trust and Abby S. and Howard P. Milstein support the awards. The winners were selected by ASA's Medical Advisory Committee, which includes leading researchers and clinicians in dermatology at research centers and major health care institutions throughout the U.S.

Through its national grants and awards program, ASA has distributed $6 million in awards, grants, laboratories, and professorships throughout the country. Past award winners have come from the fields of gene therapy for malignant melanoma, inflammation of the skin, skin cancer, childhood disease, and stem cell research, among other areas. ASA also helps raise awareness of the need for additional funding for skin disease research, which today remains among the National Institutes of Health's lowest funding priorities.


Founded by volunteers in 1987, American Skin Association (ASA) is dedicated to saving lives and alleviating human suffering caused by the full spectrum of skin disorders and cancer through research, education and prevention programs. ASA supports urgently needed research, expands public knowledge and understanding of skin's vital role in maintaining good health, and raises awareness about the often-devastating impact of skin conditions. ASA has sponsored the groundbreaking studies of 150 scientists, advancing research into the cause, diagnosis and treatment of skin disorders. ASA's award-winning skin health education program, The Wonders of Skin, has also provided vital lessons aimed at preventing skin disease and promoting early intervention to three million children in over 2,000 schools across the U.S.