NEW YORK, April 17, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Last Tuesday evening at The Plaza Hotel, American Skin Association (ASA) presented awards to four remarkable honorees and celebrated another successful year of funding research and educating youth on skin health.
For thirty-one years, ASA and its affiliates have funded over $50 million in grants to support the work of more than 300 promising young scientists. Recipients have gone on to become top researchers in their fields, working on breakthrough efforts to prevent, detect and treat skin cancer and other skin diseases. More than 100 million Americans––a third of the nation's population––are afflicted with skin disorders. The critical research ASA facilitates not only addresses the causes and treatments of melanoma, vitiligo, psoriasis and other skin diseases, but also promises remarkable breakthroughs in the search for long sought-after cures.
In the area of public education, ASA's mission is no less crucial. Through ASA Education Council, the organization has developed "The Seven Principles for a Lifetime of Healthy Skin," a valuable tool for people of all ages to learn about protecting their health and quality of life, now and in the future. ASA's contributions are part of a growing worldwide understanding of the importance of skin, beginning with the inclusion of skin health in the World Health Organization's groundbreaking new Health and Aging Strategy.
This year's recipients:
George D. Yancopoulos, MD, PhD received the 2018 Corporate Leadership Award from ASA on behalf of Regeneron, the biotechnology company he co-founded thirty years ago. Regeneron now has more than 6,300 employees and facilities in the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom. With a robust research and development engine and an unwavering commitment to its science-driven approach, Dr. Yancopoulos and his team at Regeneron have discovered important new medicines for patients with serious diseases including cancer, vision-threatening eye diseases and rheumatoid arthritis. Together with key members of his team, he is a principal inventor and developer of Regeneron's six FDA-approved drugs. Dr. Yancopoulos and his team developed Regeneron's foundational technologies for target discovery and drug development. These technologies have produced Regeneron's marketed therapies and robust pipeline of investigational treatments.
Neil Box, PhD, recipient of ASA's Daneen & Charles Stiefel Investigative Scientist Award, is an Associate Professor within the Departments of Dermatology and Epidemiology at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Dr. Box is an emerging leader in the study of melanoma risk and to date he has published 46 articles in high impact journals. He has made important contributions to the understanding of melanoma risk mediated via genetic factors and environmental exposures. Dr. Box is dedicated to educating a new generation of melanoma investigators.
Deborah Lang, PhD, received ASA's Daneen & Charles Stiefel Investigative Scientist Award. She is an Associate Professor of Dermatology at Boston University, where she is committed to educating the next generation of melanoma researchers. There she also leads a lab focused on the molecular biology of melanoma. Dr. Lang has made impactful findings in melanocyte stem cells and cancer research. Her discoveries into the molecular mechanisms of melanoma have revealed potential "Achille's heel" factors that, if targeted and inhibited therapeutically, will lead to catastrophic consequences to the cancer cells and may provide next generation treatment options for cancer patients.
Roger Lo, MD PhD, received ASA's Milstein Innovation Award (MIA). Dr. Lo is a Professor, Associate Chief of Dermatology, Director of the Dermatology STAR Residency Program and the Melanoma Clinic at Geffen School of Medicine. His lab has focused on how BRAF-mutant melanomas acquire late resistance to inhibitors, including how cell signaling, epigenetic reprogramming, melanoma cell dormancy and melanoma phenotypic plasticity may regulate resistance. He has published his findings in top-tier journals such as Cell, Nature and Science, among others. Support of Dr. Lo's research is expected to push forward the development of novel therapeutic approaches to melanoma.
ASA is committed to providing support for research discovery in both basic and clinical or translational research that will ultimately bring new treatments to patients with skin disease, with a special emphasis on curing melanoma.
Historically, ASA grant awards have successfully supported young investigators needing bridge funds to support their research until they can be funded by traditional NIH funding mechanisms. This year, ASA is initiating an important new funding mechanism, the Daneen & Charles Stiefel Investigative Scientist Award, which will provide funding to successful mid-career investigators performing cutting edge research focused on melanoma. The first two Stiefel Award winners, Drs. Deborah Lang and Neil Box, will use this funding to energize their successful research programs.
ASA is also announcing another recipient of the MIA, a highly successful program providing significant funding to established world class melanoma researchers at the peak of their careers. The intention of the award is to support investigators most likely to make fundamental scientific discoveries in melanoma and to spearhead the application of new treatment for melanoma.
This year ASA awards the Milstein Innovation Award to Roger Lo, MD PhD, Professor of Dermatology at UCLA School of Medicine. Dr. Lo has emerged as a world-leader in defining the molecular mechanisms through which melanoma avoids the effect of game-changing targeted therapies and checkpoint inhibitors that have revolutionized melanoma treatment. His work paves the way for new therapies from which melanoma cannot escape. Dr. Lo will receive $250,000 per year for three years. This $750,000 investment by Mr. and Mrs. Milstein through ASA will fund exciting new research programs in Dr. Lo's lab that will provide better treatment for patients suffering from melanoma, and which will then be eligible for further funding from sources such as the NCI.
Howard P. Milstein, Chairman of ASA, said: "We were very proud to honor Dr. Neil Box, Dr. Deborah Lang, Dr. Roger Lo and Dr. George Yancopoulos for their ongoing dedication to the field of dermatology, and their remarkable commitment to medical advancement. Whether through education, research or innovation, their important contributions help further ASA's mission of defeating melanoma, skin cancer and other skin diseases."
President of ASA, Dr. David Norris, also offered his congratulations: "This was truly a wonderful night for ASA. I am immensely proud of our work and once again congratulate our much-deserving honorees, Dr. Box, Dr. Lang, Dr. Lo, and Dr. Yancopoulos on their awards."
The event's Master of Ceremonies was Emmy award-winner Dave Price, weather anchor for NBC 4 New York. Prior to joining WNBC, Price co-anchored Good Day New York at WNYW FOX5, and was the weather anchor for CBS's The Early Show for eight years, while covering major weather events for the CBS Evening News.
ABOUT AMERICAN SKIN ASSOCIATION
A unique collaboration of patients, families, advocates, physicians and scientists, ASA has evolved over thirty-one years as a leading force in efforts to defeat melanoma, skin cancer, and other skin diseases. Established to serve the now more than 100 million Americans – one third of the U.S. population – afflicted with skin disorders, the organization's mission remains to: advance research, champion skin health, particularly among children, and drive public awareness about skin disease. For more information, visit americanskin.org.
SOURCE American Skin Association