The LEO Foundation Award 2024 – Region Americas

Grantee: Shruti Naik, Associate Professor, NYU Langone Health

Amount: USD 100,000

Grant category: LEO Foundation Awards

Year: 2024

Geography: USA

Dr. Shruti Naik is Associate Professor at the Ronald O Perelman Department of Dermatology, NYU Langone Health, in the US.

She receives the award in recognition of her exceptional scientific achievements, clear long-term career objectives, and innovative vision for skin research – which delves into the complex interactions between immune cells, surrounding skin cells, and skin-dwelling microbes to understand the origins and progression of skin diseases.

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ESDR Future Leaders Academy 2024

Grantee: European Society for Dermatological Research

Amount: EUR 25,000

Grant category: Research Networking

Year: 2024

Geography: Switzerland

The 2024 ESDR Academy for Future Leaders in Dermatology entitled “Translational innovation in dermatology” will be held 10-12 October 2024 in Uppsala, Sweden. The goal of this initiative is to foster excellence in academic dermatology and encourage gifted young dermatologists to further pursue their careers through guidance and mentoring. The program is primarily open to European residents currently engaged in skin-related research (MD, PhD, Post-Doc). The selected applicants will give oral presentation of their work and current research. The program will be completed by talks from selected senior scientists, from Future Leaders alumni serving as mentors and from guest speakers. Besides scientific sessions there is a strong emphasis on encouraging young people to network and to exchange ideas.

More information: https://esdrmeeting.org/

SID Future Leaders Retreat

Grantee: Society for Investigative Dermatology

Amount: EUR 25,000

Grant category: Research Networking

Year: 2024

Geography: USA

The Future Leaders Retreat (previously known as Resident and Post Doc Retreat) is a conference hosted by the Society for Investigative Dermatology (SID) each year since 2001. The program format provides a protected space in which residents can interact with senior faculty and established investigators for the purpose of fostering attendee’s interest in academic research careers. The program is a combination of formal lectures and presentation, informal discussions, brainstorming sessions and social activities. The Retreat is held at the time of the SID annual meeting, which allows attendees to establish connections with each other, and to other meeting attendees. These social networks foster collegiality, collaborations, an appreciation for the creative, multidisciplinary nature of science and other productive interactions. Sustained exposure to the entire spectrum of dermatologic research will influence the trainees as they make their career decision, as well as build their enthusiasm for this area of science.

More information: https://www.sidannualmeeting.org/

Digitalt univers til databearbejdning af citizen science-genererede forskningsdata i gymnasiet

Grantee: Marie Rathcke Lillemark, Statens Naturhistoriske Museum

Amount: DKK 1,811,250

Grant category: Education and Awareness Grants

Year: 2024

Geography: Denmark

The Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen will establish a free online platform for high schools to support the education of ‘data literate’ citizens with hands-on skills in answering interdisciplinary questions through scientific methodology. The platform will provide free access for Danish high schools to data obtained in the Next Generation Lab initiative, an ongoing citizen science initiative in which students analyze archaeological findings at the museum’s lab using scientific methods, thereby generating large amounts of raw research data. The portal will enable students from all over Denmark to work directly with this data, guided by new educational material that supports its relevance within or across topics such as biology, biotechnology, chemistry, history, Danish language and literature, physics, and social studies.

Visit the Natural History Museum of Denmark’s webpage

Astronomi og naturvidenskab i børnehøjde

Grantee: Mille Marta Andersen, Go Zebra

Amount: DKK 978,420

Grant category: Education and Awareness Grants

Year: 2024

Geography: Denmark

Go Zebra, a non-profit organization dedicated to stimulating children’s curiosity and bridging it to problem-solving and societal challenges through educational material with a special focus on engineering and innovation, joins forces with astrophysicist and science communicator Tina Ibsen in developing a free educational course on astronomy aimed for 4th-grade teachers and pupils. The developed material will become available for free on MeeBook (the learning platform most widely used by Danish schools), and classes participating in the project will have workshops facilitated by Go Zebra at their schools.

The overall ambition is to instill confidence in children that they can understand the world and have the capabilities to solve problems.

Visit Go Zebra’s webpage

Sustaining the Voice of Science: Increase the Impact of STEM Communication Activities at DTU Skylab

Grantee: Christian Daniel Koldbech, DTU Skylab

Amount: DKK 998,333

Grant category: Education and Awareness Grants

Year: 2024

Geography: Denmark

DTU Skylab will produce two video series, in total ten videos, to promote interest in STEM innovation and entrepreneurship. One of the series will consist of documentaries presenting the most significant innovations that have been realized within the DTU Skylab framework. The other series will consist of interviews with in-house experts and Skylab-based student entrepreneurs sharing their experiences and advice for students.

The videos will provide behind-the-scenes insights into the nature of scientific and technological innovation and entrepreneurship.

Visit DTU Skylab’s webpage

Hudlægens bord

Grantee: Vibeke Hjortlund, Videnskab.dk

Amount: DKK 1,262,415

Grant category: Education and Awareness Grants

Year: 2024

Geography: Denmark

Videnskab.dk will produce a podcast series of 12 episodes that disseminate science-based knowledge to the public, about skin health and skin/venereal diseases. The series will be hosted by an MD in dermatology and will address several topics selected by a medical panel to reflect frequently asked questions from patients. Each episode will introduce novel research within the field with potential for enabling new or improved treatment, facilitated by Danish researchers. The podcasts are supplemented with popular science articles and short videos.

Visit Videnskab.dk’s webpage

Enabling topical drug delivery of biologics across skin

Grantee: Niclas Roxhed, Associate Professor, KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Amount: DKK 4,031,088

Grant category: Research Grants in open competition

Year: 2024

Geography: Sweden

Niclas Roxhed’s technology-focused project aims to investigate the potential of spiked microspheres as vehicles for large-molecular drug delivery into skin to treat diseases.

Modern biologic drugs have transformed the way we treat many diseases. However, these drug molecules are too large to pass biologic barriers and therefore need to be injected. For skin diseases, the outermost skin layer effectively prevents larger molecules from entering the skin.

To address this problem, Niclas Roxhed and his team have tailor-made ultra-sharp spiked microspheres that painlessly penetrate only the outermost skin layer and allow delivery of large molecules into skin. In this project, they will use these spiked microspheres in an atopic dermatitis model to topically deliver large-molecular nucleic acids and nanocarriers to inhibit inflammatory reactions. To verify effective delivery, Niclas Roxhed and his team will quantify inflammatory markers in skin using micro-sampling and proteomics profiling.

The results could form the basis for highly effective delivery of biopharmaceuticals as topical creams and potentially revolutionize treatment strategies in skin disease.

Structural dissection and dynamic insights into the molecular switch of mast cells and basophils: a blueprint for novel urticaria therapies

Grantee: Rosaria Gandini, Assistant Professor, Aarhus University

Amount: DKK 3,462,144

Grant category: Research Grants in open competition

Year: 2024

Geography: Denmark

Rosaria Gandini’s project investigates the molecular details of the IgE-FceRI complex and its functioning on mast cells and basophils in order to improve treatment opportunities for urticaria.

Urticaria, a common inflammatory skin disorder characterized by itchy wheals, angioedema, or both, manifests in acute (AU) and chronic (CU) forms. It significantly impairs patients’ quality of life, causing sleep disturbances due to pruritus, fatigue, and anxiety. The symptoms arise from the activation of skin mast cells and basophils, leading to the release of histamine and other inflammatory mediators. This activation is initiated by cross-linking and clustering of the complexes between immunoglobulin E (IgE) and its high-affinity receptor, FceRI, which is expressed on the surface of these cells.

The FceRI-IgE complex hence acts as a powerful molecular switch, which initiates the inflammatory cascade and thus provides an attractive target for drug intervention. The structural basis of this activity, however, remains open.

Rosaria Gandini’s project aims to determine the structure of the FceRI-IgE membrane complex using state of the art Cryo Electron Microscopy (cryo-EM).

Successful elucidation of the molecular details of the entire complex and its conformations will allow identification of specific regions on FceRI for targeted intervention. This knowledge will deepen the understanding of the interaction of antibodies with Fc receptors in general and may pave the way for the development of specific and effective treatment of urticaria and related disorders.

Deciphering the cellular and molecular role of mitophagy in wound healing

Grantee: Jakob Wikstrom, Associate Professor, Karolinska Institutet

Amount: DKK 4,302,900

Grant category: Research Grants in open competition

Year: 2024

Geography: Sweden

Jakob Wikstrom’s project aims to improve the understanding of mitophagy, a process where damaged and aged mitochondria are removed and recycled intracellularly, in relation to wound healing.

In the event of abnormal wound healing, chronic wounds may form and thereby place a large burden on healthcare systems. Importantly, treatment options remain limited owing to the complex nature of chronic wound pathogenesis, meaning alternative avenues need to be explored in the quest to develop novel therapies.

One avenue that Jakob Wikstrom and his team aim to pursue is that of targeting mitochondria and in particular, the quality-control process of mitophagy. Mitochondria play vital roles required for efficient wound healing, most notably in regulating metabolism. However, the role of mitophagy in wound healing is poorly understood, and only a few studies have studied it in human tissue.

Interestingly, preliminary data from human tissue and primary human cell culture for this project shows that mitophagy plays an important role in the early- and mid-wound healing stages, and that mitophagy induction aids in fibroblast and keratinocyte migration. However, the precise mechanisms of how mitophagy is required in these cell types during wound healing is yet to be elucidated.

Jakob Wikstrom and his team aim to evaluate the mechanistic role of mitophagy in wound healing through a variety of experiments on relevant human cell types, investigating metabolism, chronic inflammation, and gene expression, as well as comprehensively disseminating the impact of mitophagy on wound healing in mouse models.

Successful implementation of this project could provide novel ideas for and facilitate the development of future mitochondria-targeted wound treatments.