Ushering in the Next Generation of Researchers

The Research Trainee Symposium brings together the sharpest minds in psoriatic disease research.

This past October, some of the brightest young minds in psoriatic disease research met with leading experts in the field in Portland, Oregon, at the second annual National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) Research Trainee Symposium.

psoriasis conference


The Symposium began last year as a way to jump-start the careers of the next generation of clinicians and scientists pursuing psoriatic disease research. Over the 2-day event, recent graduates had an opportunity to share their work, network with peers, and get indispensable guidance from leading researchers. Established researchers, including a representative from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, served as guest faculty for the Symposium. Most of the “trainees” at the event received an Early Career Research Grant or Fellowship, while others came from labs working on NPF-funded projects.

NPF awarded our first Early Career Research Grants in 2016 to support graduate students and postdoctoral researchers training to independently conduct psoriatic disease research. The goal is to prepare recipients to compete for larger grants in the future, and to position themselves for successful long-term careers.

Cory Simpson, MD, PhD, from the University of Pennsylvania, knows firsthand that starting a long and productive research career can be tough. “Support from NPF makes a huge difference at this formative stage in my career. If an early-stage investigator fails to get his or her own funding, that can quickly derail an academic research career, which relies heavily on outside support from agencies like NPF,” said Dr Simpson. He was 1 of 6 who received an Early Career Research Grant this year, totaling nearly $300,000.

NPF awarded $2.49 million in research grants and fellowships this year, bringing the total investment to more than $17 million since 1987. Some of this year’s NPF-funded projects include:

• Profiling of molecules in guttate psoriasis and new psoriatic flares

• Studying the poorly understood genetic mechanism of an effective form of coal tar treatment

• Investigating comorbidities (concurrent chronic diseases) of the eye

• Determining the risk of hospitalization for pneumonia in psoriasis patients

In the area of basic science, or research aimed at understanding fundamental problems underlying disease, Dr Simpson is getting at the root of some big challenges. He explained that many psoriasis treatments carry unwanted risks, such as immune system suppression, or create a burden for patients, such as light therapy that calls for 3 sessions a week.

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