National Rosacea Society Awards Grants to Study Common but Little-Known Disorder

BARRINGTON, Illinois (December 12, 2001) -- The National Rosacea Society announced that four new studies of rosacea have been selected for funding as part of its research grants program to support the advancement of scientific knowledge of this poorly understood and often life-disruptive facial disorder that affects an estimated 14 million Americans.

"Now in its third year, the grants program has been gathering momentum in encouraging greater research on the potential causes and other key aspects of this widespread condition," said Dr. Jonathan Wilkin, chairman of the Society's medical advisory board, which reviews and selects the grant applications for funding. "We hope the growing results from expanded research will form a basis for significant improvements in the management of rosacea, and may open the way for its potential prevention or cure."

Dr. Richard Gallo, associate professor of medicine/dermatology and pediatrics, University of California, San Diego, and Dr. Takaaki Otake, postdoctoral fellow, Dermatology Research, Veterans Administration Medical Center of San Diego, were awarded $25,000 to study whether a type of protein called a cathelicidin may play a role in rosacea.

Cathelicidins are made by the skin in response to injury or infection, the researchers noted. While these proteins have been found to act as natural antibiotics, they may also cause inflammation and an increase in the growth of blood vessels -- hallmarks of rosacea. Drs. Gallo and Otake will study how cathelicidins are produced and act in rosacea patients, and whether they might also protect against rosacea-associated bacteria.

Dr. Diane Thiboutot, associate professor of medicine, and Hilma Benjamin and Dr. Klaus Helm, Division of Dermatology, Penn State University College of Medicine, were awarded $22,430 to investigate whether the physical characteristics of skin in rosacea patients differ from those of both normal subjects and those with other active inflammatory skin disease in terms of sun damage, skin sensitivity, oiliness, and expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which promotes telangiectasia formation.

They will test skin from approximately 65 subjects, measuring such parameters as skin elasticity and thickness, transepidermal water loss and skin hydration, and facial oil production to determine differences in cutaneous barrier function between the groups.

Dr. Sandra Jones-Wu, assistant professor, Division of Dermatology; Dr. Nicholas Flavahan, professor of medicine; and Dr. Niconor Moldovan, assistant professor of medicine, The Ohio State University, were selected to receive a $25,000 grant to study whether structural or functional abnormalities in blood vessels result in the redness, swelling, flushing and inflammation of rosacea.

One object of study is whether blood vessels of rosacea patients are more reactive to environmental influences such as sun, heat or cold exposure than vessels from normal skin. Another topic of investigation is whether capillary enlargement in rosacea patients is due to the fusion of several existing capillaries rather than the formation of new ones.

The Society also awarded $2,200 to Karol Lindow, MSN, RN, C, CNS, associate professor of nursing, and Deb Shelestak, MSN, RN and Mary Dalpiaz, MSN, RN, CNS, assistant professors of nursing, Kent State University, for their study titled "Perceptions of self in persons with rosacea." They will administer a questionnaire that assesses self-concept and role performance to rosacea patients and to a control group without rosacea, and re-administer the test to the rosacea patients after they are treated to determine whether and how the disorder affects their self-perceptions in various situations and roles.

In addition, further research may be funded in the coming months on the role of VEGF in rosacea, pending the completion of an ongoing study funded by the National Rosacea Society at Boston University. The Society began issuing research grants in late 1999, and 11 studies have been funded to date.

Researchers interested in applying for grants can obtain forms and instructions by contacting the National Rosacea Society, 800 South Northwest Highway, Suite 200, Barrington, Illinois 60010, telephone 1-888-662-5874, e-mail The deadline for submitting proposals for research grants in 2002 is July 15, 2002.

Because the etiology of rosacea is unknown, a high priority in awarding grants is given to studies relating to its pathogenesis, progression, mechanism of action, cell biology and potential genetic factors. Proposals relating to epidemiology, predisposition, quality of life and relationships with environmental and lifestyle factors may also be considered.

Rosacea is a chronic and relapsing disorder of the facial skin that typically develops after age 30. It usually first appears as a transient erythema on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead that becomes increasingly more severe and persistent. Small telangiectasia may develop, and papules and pustules frequently appear.

In advanced cases, rhinophyma may cause the nose to become red and swollen from hyperplasia. Rosacea may also affect the eyes, resulting in blepharitis, conjunctival injection, tearing and burning, recurrent chalazion and other ocular conditions.

The National Rosacea Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those who suffer from rosacea by raising awareness of this widespread but little-known condition, and by providing public health information and supporting research on the disorder.

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Publication Date: 
Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Press contacts:
Mary Erhard, Emma Terhaar

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The National Rosacea Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of people with rosacea by raising awareness, providing public health information and supporting medical research on this widespread but little-known disorder. The information the Society provides should not be considered medical advice, nor is it intended to replace

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