National Psoriasis Foundation awards six research grants worth $450,000 to scientists studying psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis

PORTLAND, Ore. (June 4, 2013)—Six of the top scientists studying psoriasis—the most common autoimmune disease in the country, affecting 7.5 million Americans—and psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory joint and tendon disease affecting up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis, received National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) research grants totaling $450,000 for projects that aim to discover new treatments and a cure for these chronic diseases.

National Psoriasis Foundation is dedicated to increasing the number of scientists, dollars and projects dedicated to psoriatic diseases," said Randy Beranek, National Psoriasis Foundation president and CEO. "We are the only organization funding these types of promising research projects, each of which will move us faster toward finding a cure, which is our highest priority."

Learn about the NPF research grant program »

Theoharis Theoharides, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pharmacology at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, received a two-year, $200,000 Translational Research Grant to take laboratory findings and translate them into real-world applications to manage health. Dr. Theoharides will explore how stress contributes to psoriasis and how molecules derived from chamomile might interrupt this psoriasis-stress connection.

Additionally, five researchers each received a one-year, $50,000 Discovery Grant for early-stage research to advance basic understanding of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

  • Onur Boyman, M.D., of the University of Zurich in Switzerland, will explore the role of cytokines, molecules involved in inflammation, and a subset of immune cells known as T-cells for their roles in the development of psoriasis. By identifying the extent to which different molecules and immune cells contribute to psoriasis, Boyman hopes to identify promising targets for potential new psoriasis therapies.
  • Cong-Qiu Chu, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor at Oregon Health & Science University and the Portland VA Medical Center, received The A. Marilyn Sime Discovery Grant to examine a new class of therapeutic agents known as small interfering RNA, which specifically target a key cell in psoriasis lesions and can be applied topically. Chu hopes to identify potential new topical treatments for mild to moderate psoriasis.
  • Dafna Gladman, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, received The Laub Family Discovery Grant to identify if psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis is passed to offspring more frequently by fathers than mothers. Specifically, Gladman will test the hypothesis that DNA in psoriatic disease patients' sperm carries markers that predispose their children to psoriatic diseases. Her study could transform our understanding of the genetic link to psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and provide tools to help clinicians diagnose and manage these diseases earlier.
  • Matthew Hayden, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of dermatology and microbiology and immunology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, was awarded The Ostrow Graff Family Discovery Grant to investigate how the tumor necrosis factor-alpha and Interleukin 17 molecules, which are key to the development of inflammation, work together to promote psoriasis. Hayden hopes to identify new ways to treat or prevent psoriasis.
  • Nicole Ward, Ph.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and recipient of The Lozick Discovery Grant, aims to build on her earlier work revealing a possible link to an enzyme called Kallikrein 6 in early stages of psoriasis. She'll test the hypothesis that this enzyme is a key player in the development of the disease, in hopes of identifying a new target for psoriasis treatment.

The National Psoriasis Foundation is the world's largest charitable funder of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis research worldwide. Learn more about the Foundation research priorities ».

About the National Psoriasis Foundation

Serving its community through more than 50 years of patient support, advocacy, research, education, and funding, the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) is the world’s leading nonprofit fighting for individuals with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. The NPF mission is to drive efforts to cure psoriatic disease and dramatically improve the lives of more than 8 million individuals in the United States affected by this chronic immune-mediated disease. As part of that effort, NPF created its Patient Navigation Center to offer personalized assistance to everyone with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. To date, NPF has funded more than $21 million in research grants and fellowships that help drive discoveries that may lead to more and better treatments and ultimately a cure. Learn more at