ARRA Invests in Psoriasis Treatment Network

Thanks to funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), grantees of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) should soon be able to better understand how well therapies work for psoriasis, a chronic skin disease of scaling and inflammation. The disorder affects greater than 3 percent of the U.S. population, or more than 5 million adults. In addition to the serious impact psoriasis has on quality of life, more severe presentations of psoriasis are associated with an increased risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disorders and mortality.

Photo of Joel M. Gelfand, M.D., M.S.C.E.

Joel M. Gelfand, M.D., M.S.C.E.

Joel M. Gelfand, M.D., M.S.C.E., of the University of Pennsylvania and his colleagues at several other institutions have used ARRA resources to establish the first U.S.-based network to conduct studies on treatments for moderate-to-severe psoriasis in clinical practice. The Dermatology Clinical Effectiveness Research Network (DCERN) plans to collect data on more than 1,000 people with psoriasis in Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Salt Lake City. DCERN's results should help guide treatment decisions and improve patient outcomes.

In recent years there has been a revolution in understanding psoriasis. Scientists now know more about the genetic and immune system components that influence the disease. And significantly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved five new biologic response modifiers (drugs made from proteins produced by living cells) in the last seven years to treat the disorder. DCERN offers a much-needed opportunity to conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research on these treatments. In addition, the DCERN infrastructure will provide a platform for future studies of psoriasis and other skin diseases.

The network also will create three new biomedical research positions, and employ the skills and talents of more than 10 clinical and basic scientists and numerous pre- and postdoctoral medical trainees. Besides the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Utah, the National Psoriasis Foundation, and a large community dermatology practice in St. Louis all plan to participate.

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The activity above is being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). More information about the National Institutes of Health's ARRA grant funding opportunities can be found at To track the progress of HHS activities funded through the ARRA, visit To track all federal funds provided through the ARRA, visit

For more information about psoriasis, call the NIAMS information clearinghouse at 301-495-4484 or 877-22-NIAMS (free call) or visit the NIAMS Web site at

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