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Press Release

January 26, 2017

Kathleen Reichert
American Skin Association

American Skin Association Announces 2017 Research Scholar Awards and Research Grants

January 26, 2017 - New York, New York – As American Skin Association (ASA) celebrates 30 years of promoting good skin health through research and education, they continue their long history of awarding significant grants by announcing the funding of 18 critical research grants for 2017. Funding has been awarded in a variety of concentrations, including melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancer, psoriasis and inflammatory diseases, vitiligo and pigment cell disorders, and childhood skin diseases. Although recipients have pursued investigations in a variety of disciplines, many have chosen to focus on melanoma – the most fatal of all skin diseases.

In 2017, the ASA Milstein Research Scholar Award for Melanoma/Non-melanoma Skin Cancer has been awarded to Dr. Willy Hugo from UCLA Dermatology/Medicine on "A Novel Combination of MAPK and Immune Checkpoint Inhibition for Melanoma." A list of all grants awarded can be found below.

"The doctors and medical students awarded these grants bring hope to the millions suffering from devastating skin cancers and diseases. ASA vows to continue our efforts so that our vital work can continue," said Howard P. Milstein, Chairman of ASA. "We are extremely excited for the potential ground-breaking innovations these scientists and their projects may bring."

ASA's Medical Advisory Committee (MAC), composed of leading physicians and scientists, oversees the annual grant review and award process. Under its aegis, the program has supported the work of more than 250 investigators, ranging from gifted young researchers in the earliest phases of their careers to acknowledged leaders in the field.

ASA provides highly significant special research awards to established investigators studying melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancer and skin diseases. ASA has promoted the early careers of many talented young investigators, and has had a profoundly positive impact on both dermatology research and clinical care of dermatologic disease. Research scholar awardees’ cutting edge work in areas such as antimicrobial peptide research, skin stem cell function, wound healing, and skin cancer has laid the groundwork for better treatments of infection, hair loss, and cancer. In particular, ASA-funded researchers have had a broad impact on melanoma research, improving our understanding of its diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. Through an exclusive focus on skin disease research, ASA has helped to open new frontiers in skin science, producing results that can change how we understand and treat skin disease.

Although one in three Americans suffers from skin disorders, the National Institutes of Health devotes less than 2% of its annual budget to discovering their causes or improving methods of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The skin is our largest and perhaps most vulnerable organ, yet dermatological research continues to be one of the most underfunded areas of medicine. ASA, through its annual awards and grants, works to help close that gap.

The following are the recipients of the 2017 American Skin Association Research Scholar Awards and Research Grants:

ASA Carson Research Scholar Award in Psoriasis

Cory L. Simpson, MD, PhD
University of Pennsylvania
Role of Autophagy in Psoriasis Pathogenesis

ASA Milstein Research Scholar Awards in Melanoma/Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

Willy Hugo, PhD
UCLA Dermatology/Medicine
A Novel Combination of MAPK and Immune Checkpoint Inhibition for Melanoma

ASA Calder Research Scholar Award in Vitiligo/Pigment Cell Disorders

Jillian M. Richmond, PhD
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Determining Mechanisms of Melanocyte Killing in Vitiligo

ASA Research Scholar Awards

Anjali Mishra, PhD
The Ohio State University
Targeting IL-15 Signaling Pathway in Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma

Kavita Sarin, MD, PhD
Stanford University
Repurposing Systemic Therapies to Improve Outcomes in Advanced Basal Cell Cancer

ASA Research Grant for Psoriasis/Inflammatory Skin Diseases

Eddy Wang, PhD
The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York
Reversal of Alopecia Areata via Topical Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors

ASA Research Grant for Childhood Skin Disease/Disfigurement

Joy Wan, MD
University of Pennsylvania
Investigation of Systemic Medications and Phototherapy for Pediatric Atopic Dermatitis

ASA Research Grant for Quality of Life/Health Services/Outcome Studies

Aaron M. Secrest, MD, PhD
University of Utah Dermatology
The Effect of Pain and Pruritus on Quality of Life in Patients with Autoimmune Bullous Disease

ASA Research Grant for Skin Cancer and Melanoma

Chiara Vardabasso, PhD
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Towards Selective Inhibition of BET Proteins in Melanoma

ASA Research Grant for Vitiligo and Pigment Cell Disorders

Victor Huang, MD
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Variation of Serum and Local Inflammatory Markers in Individuals with Autoimmune Depigmentation

ASA Hambrick Medical Student Grants Targeting Melanoma & Skin Cancer Research

Ms. Hyunje Grace Cho
Stanford School of Medicine
Clinical and Genetic Risk Factors in Individuals with High Frequency of Basal Cell Carcinomas

Mr. Anand Rajan
The Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles
Evaluating the Role of AIM2 in Melanoma

Ms. Sarah Ahmed
Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University
Genetic Engineering of Melanoma - Targeting T-cells in Tumor-Bearing Host

Ms. Amanda Truong
University of Utah School of Medicine
Investigating Enhanced Melanoma Invasion as an Emergent Property of Targeted Therapy Resistance

Mr. Michael F. Gowen
New York University School of Medicine
Impact of a Germline Variant on Response to Target Therapy in BRAF Wild-type Melanoma

Ms. Pooja Hitendra Rambhia
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Investigating the Functional Role of a Novel Germline XPC Mutation in a High Risk Melanoma Family

Ms. Andrea Schneider
Penn State University College of Medicine
IL-6 Drives the Expression of an EMT-like Phenotype in Squamous Cell Carcinomas

Mr. Edward Kim
Boston University School of Medicine
p300 Mediates Melanoma Cell Growth and Survival Through the Transcriptional Regulation of MITF


A unique collaboration of patients, families, advocates, physicians and scientists, ASA has evolved over thirty years as a leading force in efforts to defeat melanoma, skin cancer and other skin diseases. Established to serve the now more than 100 million Americans — one third of the U.S. population — afflicted with skin disorders, the organization’s mission remains to: advance research, champion skin health particularly among children, and drive public awareness about skin disease. For more information, visit