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"Speaking of Vitiligo..."

Put YOUR name and picture in our vitiligo lab - thank you to our supporters!

Friday, June 11, 2021

Readers of this blog and followers of our work may or may not know that research is REALLY EXPENSIVE. This is because we’re using new, cutting-edge tools to investigate vitiligo in order to find new treatments, and ultimately seeking to find the cure for the disease. As I’ve told some of my patients that I’ve seen in clinic when asking if they would be willing to contribute to our research by letting us sample their skin, we can spend thousands of dollars to analyze just one patient’s skin samples using some of these tools. But it’s SO WORTH IT. The data we are generating now are revealing insight into vitiligo like never before, and we now think it will be possible to develop a cure, not just treatments.

While we are making great progress, we also have had to get creative to find sources of funding to keep moving at this level and at this speed. Some of our funding comes from the NIH (which is funded by your taxes) but obtaining grants from the NIH is REALLY HARD, not only for me but all of my friends who do research. I think it’s actually harder for me, because it can be really challenging to convince reviewers of our grants that vitiligo is important – many of them don’t think it’s a big deal and the funding should go to other diseases instead. In fact, in the past 6 months I have failed to obtain 5 grants that I submitted to the NIH and other agencies.

These grants take months to write, can be over a hundred pages or even hundreds of pages long, and the average success rate is about 10%, so we spend a LOT of time and best-case scenario, 90% of the time don't get the funding. This takes a lot of our time that would be better spent thinking about new ways to treat vitiligo or analyzing data we already have in order to find the cure. In fact, I estimate that I spent 400-500 hours of time writing these grants over the past 6 months, and in the end have no funding to show for it. Most of the comments back from these failed applications state that we’ve done really impressive work, but they’re not quite sure that vitiligo research will help as many people as other types of research.

However, another source of funding that we have found is from our supporters – people like you who want a cure for vitiligo and think that our team has a great opportunity to make this a reality. Because of this, I want to sincerely thank everyone who has visited our lab, called us, or clicked the DONATE link to send us financial support at all levels. This has really made a difference in our work, and you should take credit for our newest discoveries as well!

As a THANK YOU to all who have supported us over the past few years, we decided to name some of the equipment that we recently purchased using your donations after the donors who sent us some, actually any, amount of funding. We needed this equipment because our older stuff was either broken, or otherwise slowing us down. So, if you sent us ANYTHING, from $1 to much, much more, we put your name in a virtual hat and randomly selected names (and sometimes pictures, depending on the wishes of the donor) to put on 4 pieces of large equipment that we recently purchased for our lab. That way we’ll be reminded of those who have supported us, and those for whom we do this challenging work. We will announce the winners periodically as we receive the equipment, post the donor names, and start using it!

And if you want to make a transformational difference for us through a large donation, we would be happy to talk to you about how this will be used to discover the cure for vitiligo. We would be happy to discuss naming opportunities beyond those described above at a larger scale for those who have an interest in this.

Below: Special thanks to John Yoder for his contribution! Our new "Baby Yoda" Hood is named after him.