Investing in Alopecia Research

Following the exciting appointment of Alopecia UK’s first ever Research Manager, Carolyn Johnson, we asked her to provide a round-up of the charity’s efforts in Research in the past couple of years. Over to Carolyn...

In July 2018, Alopecia UK held its first competitive grant round with an aim to directly invest in research projects focussed on Alopecia.  We plan to open our next call for research grants in January 2020.

Funding new research

Our first research grant call last year funded two new research grants totalling almost £20,000. This first grant round prioritised research projects that addressed issues that arose from the James Lind Priority Setting Partnership.

A project was recommended to our Board of Trustees following our robust peer review process by our, then newly formed, Research Committee involving clinicians, researchers and people affected by Alopecia.  A further two projects were selected and put forward for the patient’s choice vote. This ensures we are funding high quality research that is also relevant and potentially beneficial for people affected by Alopecia. Find out more about the process here.

The two new research projects funded by Alopecia UK are a study based at St John’s Institute of Dermatology in London, searching for a link between coeliac disease and Alopecia Areata, and a study based at the Centre for Skin Sciences at the University of Bradford exploring if antigen presenting cells (APCs) play a significant role in the development of Alopecia Areata.   

Further research projects funded by Alopecia UK:

Recently completed Projects:

The mindfulness project based at the University of Sheffield finished in September. The group is currently writing up their findings.  Additional to this project, the group have also recently published an open access paper studying the effects of online peer support (available here).

Dr Kehinde Ross, who studies small RNA molecules in skin disorders, has just finished his study of micro RNAs in scarring alopecias and will be publishing the data soon.

Ongoing projects:

Kym Bain and Simon Milling are working on samples from the Alopecia Biobank, in Glasgow, studying alterations in the immune response in people with alopecia areata.  

Teontor Simakou is working on the development of skin and immune cells, using vibration to stimulate the cells in order to fix the cellular immune response.

You can read more about each of the projects that Alopecia UK has funded on our current research projects page.

Involving patients and public

We have received a huge number of applications to join our lay research panel, so thank you. The idea behind this was to ensure that all the research that we are involved with is relevant to people affected by alopecia.

Some of the roles of the panel will be to:

  • Assess grant applications from a lay perspective
  • Help researchers to design study protocols and plan projects
  • Help researchers to create plain English summaries for publications and grant applications

Research Strategy and Memberships

We have recently welcomed a new member to our Research Committee: Professor Nigel Hunt. You can read more about him (and the rest of the committee) here.

We have developed a two-year strategy for funding and facilitating research, which we needed in order to be able to join the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC). We have also become a non-commercial partner of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and joined the Charities Research Involvement Group (CRIG) to support the development of our Lay Research Panel.

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