Scientist Tom McCormick, assistant professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, believes that connecting patient experience with research findings is vital in understanding the impact that psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis have on public health, including factors such as quality of life and work productivity.
"Making that bridge is critical," McCormick said. It drives his dedication to ensure that Congress continues supporting collection of data on psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
He spoke with lawmakers in early March as part of a group of scientists and volunteer leaders who traveled to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., as well as to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) in Bethesda, Md., to advocate for federal support of psoriasis research.
The goal is to stay in front of lawmakers who last year provided $1.5 million to fund the first stage of psoriasis data collection at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. By keeping the need for psoriasis research in front of Congress, the hope is that funding will continue and the CDC can advance from the initial phase to the actual data collection.
Also participating in the fly-in were Terri Theisen, representing the National Psoriasis Foundation Board of Trustees, who told Congress about the Foundation's investment in and commitment to research for a cure, and Lauren Oickle, who is pursuing a career in science in part because of her experience living with psoriatic disease.
Psoriasis researchers joining McCormick included:
- Anne Bowcock, Ph.D, professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis;
- Nehal Mehta, M.D., M.S., preventive cardiology, director of inflammatory risk, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia;
- Abrar Qureshi, M.D., assistant professor, Harvard Medical School in Boston.
These scientists study the genetics of psoriasis, the immunology of the disease and some of the associated health risks, such as heart disease. The group felt that the opportunity to share its knowledge of the science of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, combined with the patient perspective, was critical.
Spending time at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the federal agency that supports psoriasis research, was also beneficial.
Among the highlights, there was a preventative cardiologist, Dr. Mehta, joining the group for the first time. He shared with NIAMS his efforts to study the link between inflammation of the heart and psoriasis, and the group also discussed the Foundation's doubling of efforts in research investment.
"We were able to develop support and enthusiasm for our efforts with influential people who can help make things happen for advancing federal psoriasis research," said Sheila Rittenberg, Foundation senior director of advocacy, who helped lead the fly-in.
Learn more about how you can help Congress continue support for psoriasis data collection by joining the Psoriasis Action Network »