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Research Overview

Although the skin is our largest and perhaps most vulnerable organ, dermatological research remains one of the most underfunded areas of medicine. While one in three Americans suffers from skin disorders, the National Institutes of Health devotes less than 2% of its annual budget to discovering their cause and better methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Through its national program of grants and awards, American Skin Association has committed over $50 million to underwriting research by a new generation of scientists trained in dermatology and dedicated to overcoming the most serious forms of skin disease. Since the program's inception in 1996, funding has grown dramatically from $100,000 to over $1 million per year.

Composed of leading physicians and scientists, the organization's Medical Advisory Committee oversees grant making. Under its aegis, the program has supported the work of over 300 investigators, ranging from gifted young researchers in the earliest phases of their careers to acknowledged leaders in the field.

Grants are concentrated in five areas — melanoma, skin cancer, psoriasis & inflammatory diseases, vitiligo & pigment cell disorders, and atopic dermatitis. Although recipients have pursued investigations in subjects ranging from acne to stem cell replacement, many have chosen to focus on melanoma.

American Skin Association has long supported skin disease research and education. For over 16 years, its Research Scholars program has promoted the early careers of many talented young investigators and has had a profound positive impact on both dermatology research and clinical care of dermatologic disease. ASA awardees are still active in academics, working to build knowledge and teaching others to improve skin disease care.

Research Scholar awardees' cutting edge work in areas such as antimicrobial peptide research, skin stem cell function, wound healing, and skin cancer has laid groundwork for better treatments of infection, hair loss, and cancer. In particular, ASA supported 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.