Dr. Shi Wins $20,000 Dermatology Foundation Grant to Study Causes of Eczema

Eczema on the hand and inside of elbow - Wikimedia CommonsVivian Y. Shi, MD, an assistant professor in the University of Arizona Division of Dermatology, has won the 2017 Dermatology Foundation Patient Directed Investigation Grant for $20,000 to study mechanisms involved in regulating anti-oxidative enzymes, skin barrier proteins and inflammatory molecules in patients with atopic dermatitis—or eczema.

The topic of her research project is “Linking Epidermal Barrier Function with Anti-Oxidant Defense Mechanisms in Atopic Dermatitis.” The grant is for a period of one year.

Vivian Y. Shi, MDDr. Shi is looking to enroll up to 40 patients—with and without eczema—for the study, which she notes is observational. Some will come from her clinics at Banner – University Medical Center facilities. Others can sign up at https://clinicaltrials.gov after July 1. For additional information, please contact Melisa Van Skiver at uadermatologyresearch@gmail.com

“We will take skin biopsy samples, draw blood and measure skin function in real time (as well as take pictures of skin conditions),” she said. “It’s a pilot study, and what we learn from the data we collect can be used for future directions on research about eczema, its causes and treatment.”

Atopic dermatitis, also known as atopic eczema, is a non-infectious chronic skin disease of unknown origin that usually starts in early infancy. It involves dry, itchy skin and rashes on the face, inside of the elbows, behind the knees and on the hands and feet. Criteria for diagnosis include appearance of the rash in patients with a personal or family history of asthma and/or hay fever. Corticosteroid creams and ointments are typically prescribed for treatment, and certain antihistamines can relieve itching to allow more restful sleep, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a unit of the National Institutes of Health.

To learn more about this disease, you can also visit the American Academy of Dermatology website.

Dr. Shi, who joined the UA faculty in 2016, is also director of the Eczema and Skin Barrier Specialty Clinic and Follicular Disorder Specialty Clinic at the Banner – University Medicine Dermatology Clinic, 7005 N. Oracle Road, in Tucson’s Casas Adobes Plaza shopping center (at Ina and Oracle Roads). She also sees patients at the UA Cancer Center’s Peter and Paula Fasseas Cancer Clinic at 3838 N. Campbell Ave. She is the principal investigator in a number of active clinical research studies related to atopic dermatitis (eczema), skin barrier function and hidradenitis suppurativa—skin lesions that develop as a result of inflammation and infection of sweat glands.

Previously, she was chief resident and a resident in the Dermatology Residency Program at the University of California – Davis and the UC Davis Medical Center. Before that, she completed an internship in internal medicine at University of Illinois at Chicago/NorthShore University Health Systems. She earned her medical degree from the University of Chicago, where she also completed a Medical Student Research Fellowship with the American Dermatological Association under Lawrence S. Chan, MD, the university’s head of dermatology. Her undergraduate degree in physiological sciences is from UCLA. She has served as the investigator on multiple clinical studies.

Dr. Shi was among 52 recipients of research awards from the Dermatology Foundation in 2017. A total of $2.6 million in funding was bestowed in 13 award categories serving all areas of the specialty. To learn about other research award recipients and their projects, click here.

The Dermatology Foundation was established in 1964 and is the leading private funding source for skin disease research. It provides funding that helps develop and retain tomorrow’s teachers and researchers in dermatology, and enable advancements in patient care. For more information, see dermatologyfoundation.org.

The University of Arizona Division of Dermatology is part of the UA Department of Medicine, the largest department at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson. It is affiliated with the UA Skin Cancer Institute and the UA Cancer Center as well as the Southern Arizona VA Health Care Center and its flagship Tucson VA Medical Center. Like the department, college and other UA Health Sciences colleges, the division’s primary clinical partner is Banner – University Medicine, the academic division of Banner Health.

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Release Date: 
05/31/2017 - 8:30am