Alopecia areata is a disease characterized by hair loss that affects 6.5 million Americans of all ages, races and ethnicities. It occurs more frequently in people who have affected family members, suggesting heredity and genetics are a factor in disease occurrence. The profound effects of the disease are physical, social and psychological. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF) is a nonprofit organization that supports research to find a cure or acceptable treatment for alopecia areata, supports those with the disease, and educates the public about alopecia areata. This summit is central to the research mission of the Foundation: bringing together investigators from relevant specialties around the world to distill learning from previous research advances and determine future priorities. NAAF uses these priorities to evaluate research proposals and make grant funding decisions. The long-term objective is a safe, effective, affordable treatment or a cure for alopecia areata. This research summit is planned for December 4-5, 2014 in Bethesda, MD. The summit will bring together esteemed researchers representing genetics, immunology, related autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, dermatology and other fields including phototherapy. Summit objectives are to: 1) review new knowledge;2) identify and prioritize promising new needed research;3) develop plans and facilitate partnerships;and 4) publish meeting results to share findings. Inclusion of women, minorities, and people with disabilities is a priority so we draw on a broad and balanced field of knowledge. We encourage early-career investigators to join us and bring fresh ideas and new talent. Attendees with alopecia areata will ensure that the patient perspective is heard and considered in the prioritization process. The design of this research summit is two days combining a series of short presentations with expansive discussion facilitated by each participant having a microphone. Key findings are periodically summarized by senior researchers and co-chairs will lead presenters and participants to collectively analyze findings and recommend new research priorities and partnerships. Our method of enabling researchers to hear findings across multiple disciplines and engage in substantive Q&A and discussion fosters innovation and collaboration.
If this research summit achieves the long-term goal of leading to a safe, affordable treatment or cure for alopecia areata, the public health burden for the 6.5 Million Americans living with this disease will be reduced or eliminated.