Dr. Jennifer Schoch Wins NEA/PeDRA 2021 Childhood Eczema Challenge Grant

August 3, 2021

The grant will fund investigation into neonatal cutaneous microbiome predictors of infantile eczema

The National Eczema Association (NEA) and the Pediatric Dermatology Research Alliance (PeDRA) awarded their second annual Childhood Eczema Challenge Grant to Jennifer Schoch, MD of the University of Florida for her grant proposal titled "Neonatal Cutaneous Microbiome Predictors of Infantile Eczema."

 The grant of $50,000 commenced August 1, 2021.

In 2020, NEA and PeDRA together created the Childhood Eczema Challenge Grant to accelerate research that improves the health and quality of life of pediatric eczema patients and their families.

Dr. Schoch's investigation builds on animal models that suggest that immune tolerance to cutaneous microbes is acquired early in life and can prevent inflammation upon later re-exposure. Dr. Schoch and her team hypothesize that a parallel exists in humans, specifically that exposure to microbes such as Staphylococcus species early in life confers tolerance and reduces inflammation upon re-exposure. And because Staphylococcus aureus has been implicated in the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis/eczema, this early tolerance could be critical in prevention of eczema. In preliminary data from a pilot study, the team found a decrease in microbial diversity in week 2 of life. 

For this grant, Dr. Schoch and her team will correlate differences in the neonatal skin microbiome with the subsequent development of infantile eczema by age one. Specifically, they will compare relative abundance of Staphylococcus aureus from the neonatal period in infants who developed eczema by one year of life, compared to infants who do not develop eczema by one year, toward the goal of understanding how the early establishment of the skin microbiome contributes to healthy and disease states.

"Looking at the first two years of the Childhood Eczema Challenge Grant, I am thrilled to see one project aimed at addressing disparities and another at understanding the earliest triggers of eczema," says Michael Siegel, PhD, executive director of PeDRA, in a news release. "We are so excited to see the momentum build with our partnership with NEA around research questions that matter to patients and their families."

"Dr. Schoch's work with the microbiome has important implications for our youngest eczema patients, with the potential to lead to preventative approaches that can avert a lifetime with eczema," adds Julie Block, president and CEO of NEA. "This is exactly why we joined with PeDRA to create a grant specifically supporting childhood eczema research."

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