NPF-funded researcher receives $1.8 million National Institutes of Health grant to investigate psoriasis and cardiovascular disease connection

For the second time in 2012, a psoriasis researcher supported by a National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) grant has received coveted funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—the primary federal agency responsible for biomedical and health-related research—to continue her work.

Earlier this year, Nicole Ward, Ph.D., assistant professor of dermatology and neurosciences at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and scientist with the Murdough Family Center for Psoriasis at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, used mouse models to discover exactly how psoriasis and cardiovascular disease are connected and also found that treating psoriasis reduced heart disease and heart attack risk. This research is the first study to show exactly how psoriasis and heart disease are connected and could change the way psoriasis is treated by dermatologists.

Ward began this landmark project with two $50,000 National Psoriasis Foundation Discovery Grants—one in 2009 and a second in 2010—that enabled her to gather enough data to apply for and receive a five-year, $1.8 million NIH grant to expand her research.

Using the NIH funding, Ward and her team will continue to focus on demonstrating definitively that skin inflammation in the form of psoriasis causes hardening of the arteries, inflamed blood vessels and risk of blood clotting. They also will use genetically engineered mice to examine whether biologic drugs that treat psoriasis in humans will prevent heart disease.

Ward joins fellow NPF Discovery Grant recipient Dr. Nehal Mehta as a recipient of NIH funding for psoriasis research. She and Mehta will collaborate on future studies linking psoriasis to cardiovascular diseases.

National Psoriasis Foundation Discovery Grants, awarded annually, are intended to lay the groundwork for additional long-term funding from the NIH and other funding agencies. Help the Foundation support additional research that will bring us closer toward a cure.

About the National Psoriasis Foundation

Serving its community through more than 50 years of patient support, advocacy, research funding, and education, 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 Americans 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